Marxist Literary Theory - A Level English Literature Site

Interpreting literature focus on the
representation of class conflicts and depiction
of social classes.
Analyses the social and political meanings of
literature, sometimes reinforcing them.
Marxist critics will view the literature as a
reflection of the social institutions of that time.
Social change occurs from the struggle
between the different classes of society.
Often championing authors sympathetic to
the working classes, eg; ‘Tess’ of the
D’Urbervilles or (‘Nick’ in Gatsby?).
‘a work of literature is not a result of divine
inspiration or pure artistic endeavour, but
that it arises out of the economic and
ideological circumstance surrounding it’s
Marxist theory suggests that an author, such
as Hardy or Fitzgerald, is implying
something about the society in which they
live, through their novels; acceptance,
rejection, or another ideology.
Marxism in Tess of the D’Urbervilles
•Tess is represented as working class. A Marxist
critic would consider this to be the reason of
her downfall, rather than the incident with Alec
-she has no secure work/home-the horse
Prince, is the source of their livelihoods.
-Her power derives only from her sexuality
and her role as a agricultural labourer.
-She is deluded by the idea that she is of
higher status.
•There is also conflict in Tess and Angel’s
situation, as she is convinced she is not
worthy of him since he is of a higher
social class, although he insists he does
not believe in the class system of the era.
•However Hardy addresses the idea of
social mobility as Tess becomes wife to
Alec D’Urberville.
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