The Marxist response to literature is complex and multifaceted, but it is fair to say that, in general, Marxist critics view literature as the product of ideology.
To be clear, let us define “ideology“ using Louis Althusser’s definition. His definition states that ideology is “a system (possessing its logic and proper rigor) of representations (images, myths, ideas, or concepts according to the case) endowed with an existence and a historical role at the heart of a given society.” For a Marxist critic, then, literature, both in its content and in its form (as poetry, novel, essay, and so on) are expressions of the ideology of the culture that produced it. The job of the Marxist reader is to reveal the ideological origins of work and, in doing so, more fully comprehend its meaning. The results of such analyses are, therefore, inherently political. An underlying principle of Althusser’s concept of ideology is that it exists in a kind of closed loop. As a “system“ of “representations,” ideology makes sense to those who exist within the loop, but the assumption is that there is a vantage point (the vantage point of the critic) from which we can see the system for what it is: self-limiting and self-justifying. In this sense, the purpose of literary criticism is to reveal the ideological basis for literature as a kind of critique of ideology itself.