Marxism Handout - eng4usummerschool

By: Ashley
Karl Heinrich Marx
(May 5 1818 – March 14 1883)
German philosopher, sociologist
and socialist who invented the
Marxist Theory
Marxist theory
Marxism: the political and
economic theories of Karl
Marx and Friedrich Engels,
later developed by t heir
followers to form the basis for
the theory and practice of
Marxist Criticism revolves
around Marxism and the idea
of class struggle. Karl Marx
identifies two major classes in
society: the bourgeoisie, who
own industry and means of
production, and the
proletariat, the working class.
Class struggle is the tension
Karl Marx
Ka r l M a r x wa s a
Ger man philosopher,
sociologist and socialist who
came up with the Marxist
philosophy and beliefs. He
was born in Trier, Germany
t hat ar r ises between t he
proletariat, and the exploitive
bourgeoisie who harness the
hard labour of the working
class for their own profit, just
because they privately own
the means for production.
This capitalist
system was seen as unjust by
Marx, who believes that this
tension will build up to a
climatic point, where the
working class will be fed up
with their oppression by the
bourgeoisie and revolt to
bring equality to the people.
The ultimate goal of this
revolution, according to Marx,
is to ac hieve a classless
socialist or communist system
t hat eq uall y benef its all
people, in which decisions are
made by the people, for the
on May 5, 1818, and died on
March 14, 1883.
His ideas arose from
hearing of the struggle of the
German working class, and
believed that only socialism
and equality in society could
bring the cheap labour of the
work force to an end. His
ideas have gained ground all
over the world, but often
being censored.
"Let the ruling classes
tremble at a communist
revolution. The proletarians
have nothing to lose but their
chains. They have a world to
w i n . Wo r k i n g m e n o f a l l
countries, unite!"
- Karl Marx
Friedrich Engels
Friedrich Engels was
a lesser known man than
Karl Marx. They worked
together on the publication
called the Communist
Manifesto which outlines
the the ideas of Marxism,
and blames all previous
societal conflicts on the
inequality of the classes and
the misery of the exploited
The Communist
Manifesto identifies 3 major
historic phases of humanity.
Slaver y, Feudalism and
Capitalism. Slavery was
obviously unjust, and
revolution occurred to move
onto Feudalism. Although
more fair, Feudalism was
still causing an unequal
treatment between the poor
and the working class.
Capitalism was the final
Marxist Literary Criticism:
Analysing the Social Equality of the Classes
Things to consider when analysing literature from a Marxist "lens," these are some
things to consider:
•Are characters equitably portrayed?
•What classes are the characters in?
•Whom does their work benefit?
•Are the characters in conflict of opposing classes?
•Are the proletariat portrayed as inferior?
•Are they shown as uneducated, unhygienic or oppressed?
•Are the bourgeoisie portrayed as superior?
•Are they shown as intelligent, classy, oppressive, manipulative or corrupt?
•What values does the text reinforce?
•What values does the text subvert?
•What causes the conflict between the classes?