MARXIST CRITICISM Marxist criticism was developed by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels in the late 1840s, they did not come up with this as a means of literary interpretation but they just came up with communist manifesto, an idealized idea of society and what it should be like and what it should not be and then people have applied that to literary theory. Basics are very concrete, they’re very scientific and very logical. They focus on the material and do not believe in spiritual so they don’t believe that we as humans or spiritual beings, they believe that everything is material. When they investigate something it’s always explainable, it’s always logical, it’s always concrete.
It’s something you can see or feel or touch. They also knew history not just as a series of events but as a very long struggle of class and if you look back you can see it’s logic. It’s not just isolated events that happened, for various reasons they see that there’s a great struggle between the upper classes and the lower classes.
Conflict has created the history that we now study. The social class of the author directly effects the text he wrotes. Marxists really dislike capitalism(obviously), because they view capitalism as a hierarchy where very small number of people have the power and we know that is true. They exert that power over the lower classes and we can see that in our very own culture, we can also see that in other cultures in the world where very few powerful people make the decisions for everybody.
Even though we call the system we are ruled by with the name of ”Democracy”, you can still see that happening. People who are really interested in politics and how things work together and create social classes are interested in Marxist theory. The idea of commodification, you have to investigate where value lies. For example, think about human beings.Humans are not viewed as humans and are simply viewed as commodity, something to be sold or traded or taking advantage of, that is commodification. It works with the arts as well. Do you view a piece of art as simply something to exchange, to gain something from or do you view piece of art as something that has pure value in itself and not to be traded or gain something from. Simply because it exists.
Commodification is a very big part of the Marxist criticism and either people or objects being used as a commodity as opposed to finding value in them in and of itself. Another basic of Marxist criticism is finding revolutionary moments within a text either to see how revolution is working within the text or to see if the text itself can spark a revolution in society so that really puts a lot of power and emphasis on literature and power it can have to change. The value is truly placed on the text and the power can have within a culture or society.
The general characteristics of Marxist criticism can be explained with the focus on the analysis of money, power, and social institutions such as government, families and religion, both inside and outside of the text.WE CAN REMEMBER IT FOR YOU WHOLESALE Douglas Quail is a simple clerk who wants to go on holiday but he can’t afford to go on holidays because he is a simple clerk. At the start of the story, we see ordinary, dutiful capitalist lifestyle that pushed us, the lifestyle that criticized by Karl Marx.
Just like %90 percent of the world, Ouail has a dream that he knows is impossible. We can relate that also to our lives. We all have a dream but inside we all know that it will probably not happen. Quail is a ”miserable little salaried employee” that crushed by the system and the rulers, the saddest part of it is that he is aware of it. His wife, Kirsten (it can sound funny) acts like she is collaborating with the rulers. She’s trying to ”wake” his husband up from his dream, she tries to make him not believe in his dream. Believing that everything is illusion, he goes to his appointment with Rekal inc. Quail is always lost in his dreams.
And he will make his dreams come true, in a sense. Rekal inc. will put false memories in his head, send him photos and souvenirs from Mars and make him believe that he actually went there.
At this point, we see a bitter moment. In his letter, Quail says that he has no slight chance to go Mars. This is why he goes to Rekall inc. McClane, to Quail, says that ”our fee is reasonable, no extra charges”. This is important because we can relate it to world, the system we all live in. We all buy things we don’t need but when we buy it we feel regretful.
This small talk about reasonable fee and no extra charges made to feel us not regretful. Throughout the story, we learn that Quail is actually an Interplan agent that went to Mars once. That is why he has that desire about Mars. In the rest of the story we see his story with his wife, Interplan agents, Interplan itself and McClane. His wife abandons him, he fights and runs away from the agents, he deals with Interplan and at the final moments, we learn that he actually stopped the alien invasion and the only way of stopping aliens from coming to world is keeping Quail alive. When we look in to the short story throughout Marxist perspective, we can see that material things rule the world. Cabs are driven by robots.
People still suffering from class distinction(Quail). Even though they work hard they can’t afford to make their dreams come true. Capitalism still, and will always rule.
Shops, markets and companies like Rekal inc. will do anything, basicly anything to make us feel not regretful about the things we buy simply because they want us to keep coming, keep buying. And again, if we going to look at this story from Marxist perspective, we are going to need an revolutionary moment. And I think this happened when Quail learned he is actually the man he sees in his dreams. Government tries to kill Quail. His family abandons him, but just like any other science fiction story, we see our protagonist reach his dreams, even though it seems absurd, unrealistic.
”REPENT, HARLEQUIN!” SAID THE TICKTOCKMAN ”Repent, Harlequin!” said the ticktockman is a short story written by Harlan Ellison in 1965. At the storys society, time is supreme, punctuality is seemed as religion. If you arrive late to work or basicly anywhere, if you waste your time, you are basicly wasting productivity so that time is taken off of your life. There are numerous ideas in story that we can relate with the ideas of Marxism. Everyone seems same. A certain amount of work is expected for a similar reward. You must conform if you want to earn your place or even avoid losing it. Harlequin defies these notions.
He represent the idealized individual, the capitalist one who refuses to conform. The person that Karl Marx seems to hate, not only does to Harlequin directly to fight time and cross the ticktockman, the enforcer of regulation in the society of our story, takes joy in doing so. Harlequin spends an unreasonable amount of money in jellybeans. This purchase of jellybeans is flagrant contradiction to the conservative ‘waste-not’ principles of Marxism.
Additionally, the idea of jellybeans being used as holy water is strengthened by the depiction of Harlequin as a christ-like figure, especially by the society’s lower class. Not only is religion not encouraged in Marxist philosophy, Karl Marx once referred to it as a drug of the oppressed people(at the ”A Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Right”). Harlequin flies above the rest defying societal expectations and ticktockmans regime. In a barefaced display of individuality, a heart of capitalism. In contrast to the Harlequin, his girlfriend pretty Alice is the embodiment of communist philosophy. She believes in order and Alice is routinely annoyed at the Harlequins behaviour and disregard for time. He stands out, she does not want him to. Pretty Alice also represents the secondary role of woman in communist philosophy, because the masculinity and physical strength are viewed to directly influence productivity.
Men are the breadwinners, they take care. As a result, there are different interpretations that exist in ”Repent, Harlequin!”. Author is trying to promote a communist or capitalist agenda, Harlequin was eventually defeated by the ticktockman. He’s consumed by time and eventually becomes just another monotonous individual conform member of the society. The memory of his individuality fades away.
In my personal opinion, Harlequins mark is not lost on the ticktockman as his humanity and perhaps the crumbling of a communist regime is revealed at the end of the story.THE SECRET LIFE OF WALTER MITTYThe Secret Life of Walter Mitty is a short story, it was written in 1941 by James Thurber.The World War Two had been going on for two years now, and even though United States of America did not get fully involved until December of 1941, Americans as individual human beings were already started to getting involved. American society at this time was starting to gear up for war. America had heroes that had fought in World War One and heroes leaving for the second world war.
Society is looking for the young, strong, and courageous, and here is where the character Walter Mitty sits. Mitty (in real life) is described as “not a young man any longer” (229) by his wife. His wife is constantly nagging him; everything he does is not good enough for her. He never can seem to do anything right.
On the first page Mitty’s wife is telling him he is driving too fast, after he drops his wife off a police officer tells him to drive faster, then when he gets to the garage the parking lot attendant yells at him for almost hitting another car and being a bad driver. In this story it is clear that Walter Mitty is not the strong, able, young man that society is looking for and honoring. This is the part where it gets interesting, because Walter Mitty is unable to be all these things society is striving for; he recreates himself in his head. Mitty day dreams about being strong, courageous, and needed.
Within this five page story he has five separate imaginings. The first he is a commander of a ship, he is fearless and all of his men respect him following his every command. The second he is a surgeon and apparently the only one who can save a millionaire banker who is good friends with President Roosevelt. The third he is a murderer who is knowledgeable about guns and a crack shot. In this dream there is also a “lovely dark-haired girl” (230) who jumps on his lap in the end. The fourth he is an air captain in the military and is flying alone because his copilot is sick, not only is he heroic by flying alone to do this ammunition drop off, but it is also mentioned that he can hold his liquor. Then in the fifth dream he is bravely standing in front of a firing squad ready to die without a blindfold. All of these dreams encompass the strength and masculinity that society holds important, and that Mitty longs for, but cannot grasp.
Walter Mitty cannot ever be happy because he can never be what society, at this time, has prescribed as good, and admirable. The story ends with Mitty waiting for his wife in front of the drugstore, which soon turns to Mitty in front of the firing squad awaiting his death. Mitty will never be the hero he dreams himself to be. Therefore it is easier for Mitty to live in a world that does not exist than in the real world with a society that does not except him.