In a Nutshell
At Marx U, you don't pick your class—your class picks you.
Meet Karl, venerable founder of Marx U. He's a big, bearded, 19th-century bourgeois, and he spent much of his adulthood in the British Library. Imagine his portrait on the wall: he's not smiling.
Okay, he may not seem like the likeliest founder of the world's most radical intellectual and political movement, but beneath that grandfatherly exterior lurks a wickedly subversive mind.
For Karl, it's all about the power struggle: rich versus poor, owners versus workers, cats versus dogs. And when we say it's all about the power struggle for this dude, we mean it's all about the power struggle. We're looking at you, literature. That's right: for Marx, the power struggle plays out in every novel, poem, movie, song, whatever.
That means, according to Marxists, that anytime you write, you're advancing your cause. Don't know what your cause is? Marxists sure do.
According to Marxists, every story tells us something about the world—and about which side the author is on. The goal of the Marxist critic is to figure out what that is. And thanks to Marx, we can make some pretty good guesses before we even open the book.
Say what? Well, Marxists think they have the answer to pretty much any question you might have. They even think they can predict the future. So what's this all about? Is it mind reading? Sorcery? Mumbo-jumbo? Well, according to Marxists, what they have to offer is a total theory of history and society. We're talking a total theory of everything.
So pick up your hammers and sickles, comrades, because it's time for Communist Literature 101.
Why Should I Care?
Why Should Readers Care?
Ever wondered why the heck it matters that the rhyme scheme is ABBA ABBA? That the image of a rose appears three times? That the hero gets rich, or the heroine gets married? Haven't you got more important stuff to worry about?
Well, Marx says that literature is directly connected to real life, and he says he can prove it. Maybe more than any other literary theory, Marxism tries to explain exactly what that book has to do with the real world.
Marxism takes the text out of a vacuum. If New Criticism is all about the text and nothing but the text, Marxism is all about the context. Swedish rhyme schemes, imaginary roses, and rich couples? Yeah,...