How can I apply the Marxist Criticism towards the poem "Snow White" by Andrea Hollander Budy?

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Ashley Kannan | Middle School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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One element of Marxist criticism that can be seen in the poem is the idea of a collision between worlds that are externally constructed.  The realm of power, those who own the means of production, is what Snow White inhabits, while the dwarfs are the workers, those who are marginalized.  The poem's opening of Snow White having been kissed by the dwarf, Bashful, is developed as truth that upsets this dynamic.  The class consciousness of those in the position of power insisted this not be the case, thus the "made up story of the Prince."  The Marxist critique would point to how those in the position of power sought to keep their control, consolidating it while keeping the proletariat, the worker, outside of the ownership of the means of production.  The idea that the dwarfs would be able to share in the power that Snow White represents is seen as impossible in the construction of those who hold control and those who do not: Otherwise,/wouldn't you be out there now/scavenging through wildflowers,/mistaking the footprints of your own/children for those little men?"  

The ending of the poem is reflective of the critical consciousness that is such a part of Marxist theory.  The demand to reexamine "the plainness" of being can be seen as a call to challenge the Status Quo that enhances material inequality.  In the poem, it is a reexamination of the relationship between Snow White and the dwarfs, reflective of the condition in which individuals who have wealth and power interact with those who lack it in a capitalist setting.

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