What are the most relevant aspects of the way Marxism has  to literary theory?What are the most relevant aspects of the way Marxism has  to literary theory?

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

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Marxist thought has profoundly impacted literary theory.  In reading works of literature in a Marxist manner, one gains a greater understanding of the relationship that characters hold towards other people and their social setting in the work in question.  At the same time, Marxist literary criticism allows a more thorough understanding of how characters understand themselves.  Reading works with a Marxist frame of reference allows the reader to fully gain a deeper understanding of how the relationship of power is constructed in the work and how those who own the means of production or "on the inside" attempt those who are on the outside.  From the most fundamental of viewpoints, understanding the struggle between those who have power and those who do not from a Marxist point of view enhances understanding of a work because it adds another layer of conflict to what is happening in the text.  In seeking to create political dimensions to literary works, one develops a more profound understanding of both literature and social criticism.