What are the similarities and differences between Marxist theory and psychoanalytic theory in literature?
Both Marxist theory and psychoanalytic theory emphasize the examination and critique of underlying structures and their manifestations. With Marxist theory, one is analyzing the social structures which maintain and reproduce (material) culture. In particular, we look at class organization, ideology, and distribution of wealth. An example of a Marxist analysis of literature might be to consider European texts from 18th and 17th century. Around this time, many revolutions occurred. These revolutions challenged the "God-given" societal structure which justified the oppression of great numbers of people, keeping material wealth in the hands of very few. Literature from pre-revolutionary contexts may offer insight into how people thought about the world and its organization.
Psychoanalysis, on the other hand, focuses on the examination of thoughts, feelings, and behaviors as well as the underlying structures and functions which cause them. Psychoanalytic examination of literature draws from Sigmund Freud's theories of psychoanalysis and holds that texts can be read as manifestations of underlying mental processes. For example, consider Shakespeare's relationship with depression (or "melancholy") as evidenced by the characters he wrote.