What questions can I ask myself about this story (or any story) that might help me find the perspective of  feminist, Marxist, and Freudian critics?

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linda-allen eNotes educator| Certified Educator

A feminist interpretation of a story will look for the way women are treated in the story. Are women equal to men or are they just stereotypes or even ignored? Are women's issues (equal rights, reproductive rights, etc.) treated fairly or even at all? A feminist interpretation of "Cinderella" might focus on Cinderella's pulling herself up out of the ashes instead of dreaming for a prince charming to rescue her.

For Marxism, "the unequal distribution of wealth in capitalist societies leads to a struggle between different social classes." Is there inequity or injustice between the groups in the story? Does one side oppress another? An interpretation of The Grapes of Wrath might conclude that it wasn't the drought that caused the Okies to lose their farms but the fact that they were from a lower socioeconomic class in the first place.

Freudian interpretation looks for the hidden meaning of words and actions, how one's psyche is revealed. Does a character's childhood cause him to do the things he does? The eNotes biography of Freud states that he "used the term 'Oedipus complex' for the 'nuclear complex' of all neuroses....The Oedipus complex, which Freud believed all humans experienced, consisted of deep love for one parent and a feeling of hatred for the other." The obvious text to interpret from a Freudian point of view is Oedipus Rex.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

By the same token, Marxist works will focus on relationships of the people, the consciousness of the people, and a particular focus on the working conditions and lives of the working masses. Anything in literature which focuses on the working class or the underprivileged peoples and their struggle for survival could have strong Marxist connections. I have attached a link for a better understanding of Marxism which you can then apply to literature.

Freudian perspectives are based on the theories of Sigmund Freud who developed such theories as studies in the unconcious mind, the Oedipus Complex, and dream analysis.  One of his big things was pyschoanalysis where repressed desires and needs could be manifested in the form of dreams or body language.  This can be present in literature through competition of sons and husbands for the mother/wife's attentions, through split personalities, through dream analysis or vivid dreams of a character which symbolize something in the story, or even depressed females.  Any attention to the treatment of repressed thoughts, feelings, and desires in a work could be given a Freudian twist.

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Big Black Good Man

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