Marxist Literary Theory, or Criticism, is based upon the ideologies and theories of Karl Marx. This theory examines a text based upon its who it benefits (in regard to class, society, and social concerns). According to Marxist theorists, the one question needing attention (when applying Marxist Criticism) is as follows: Whom does the text benefit? If a text illustrates the oppression of the lower class structures, the text benefits the upper class. Contrastingly, if a text benefits the rise of the lower class, the text benefits the lower class.
Marxist texts illustrate the change which is necessary to bring about a new order, giving power to the oppressed (whomever the text defines the oppressed to be). In some cases, the social background of the author becomes relevant based upon the way he or she illustrates or ignores oppressive actions or behaviors.
Questions which Marxist Literary Theory ask are as follows:
- Is the text representative of the class it states it illustrates?
- Are the class structures of the text realistic?
- Does the text illustrate a new class which falls back into the cycle of the old class?