Social Class Lens

Reading poetry through Social Class Lens
How are these two different groups of people
represented in the text?
Who has the power?
What clues from the text support that position?
What does this suggest about society?
Analyze the social effect of the literary work. How
would a member of the upper-class see this
cartoon? Middle class? Lower class?
“Canada is a classless society.” Do you agree
or disagree?
Based on economic and cultural theory of Karl Marx and
Friedrich Engles, especially on the following claims:
o the way people think and behave in society is determined by basic
economic factors
o Those groups of people who owned and controlled major industries
could exploit the rest of the population, through conditions of
employment and by forcing their own ideologies onto other social
Marxist criticism applies these arguments to the study of
literary theories
Loosely based on Karl Marx’s standpoint on social class
Argue that economic power and social class membership
influence our perception of society
The class we belong determines our ECONOMIC, POLITICAL,
and SOCIAL advantage
o Often in conflict with each other
Our social class impacts our beliefs, values, perceptions,
and ways of thinking and feeling
Helps us understand that people from different social
classes understand the same circumstances in different
Examines power and advantage in literary texts
Who has the power/ money? Who does not? What happens as a
Explain the literature by revealing economic, class, and ideological
determinants of the way the author writes– “educated” versus
“uneducated” language.
Explore the way different groups of people are represented in the
What does this say about society in this era? Relate it to Canadian
society today.
How does the text itself reproduce certain social beliefs and
Analyze the social effect of the literary work.
Examining portrayal of characters, female and male, upper
and lower class
Language of text– educated versus uneducated language?
Attitude of the author
Relationship between characters
Comments the author seems to be making about society as
a whole
As a class, we will apply Social Class lens to the following
o “Richard Cory” by Edward Arlington Robinson
o “To a Poor Old Woman” by William Carlos Williams
o “My Last Duchess” by Robert Browning (group work)
Due tomorrow:
“Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening”- Robert Browning