Write a critical note on the essentials of Marxist literary theory or Freudian psychoanalysis.

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mstultz72 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In Marxist theory, the 4 essentials are:

  • Economic power (society is shaped by its forces of production).  There are two main classes: the bourgeoisie (those who control the means of production) and the proletariat (those who operate the means of production).  Capitalism is flawed.
  • Materialism versus Spirituality: society is not based on spiritual forces (ideas, abstractions), but things (materialism); any notion otherwise is denial.
  • Class Conflict: in a capitalistic society there is a division of labor between the rich and the poor, the bosses and the labor: the former exploits the latter; the latter resents the former
  • Art, Literature, and Ideologies: art and literature are vehicles for the bourgeoisie (the makers of art) to instill its values on the proles (the consumers).

For Freudian criticism:

  • There is an Oedipal / Elektra Complex: connotations of passive-aggression, repression, and guilt toward parents:
  1. the son’s desire for his mother
  2. the father’s envy of the son and rivalry for the mother’s attention
  3. the daughter’s desire for her father
  4. the mother’s envy of the daughter and rivalry for the father’s attention.
  • There is an emphasis on the meaning of private dreams as they oppose public and social values.
  • There is a correlation of the Id, Ego, and Superego to a trio of characters or all within the same character.
kc4u | Student

This is just by way of addition---

Marxist Theory---

1. Literature or art as a part of the superstructure, interpellatively determined by the economic base. Literature is thus a site of ideology c.f. terry Eagleton.Marxism and the influence on literary form.c.f. Fredric Jameson.

2. Literature and the alienation from realism--Bertolt Brecht's epic theatre going against theatrical illusionism. Alienation-effect as a way of de-familiarization.

3. Literature as a commodity--the stress on publishing

4. Raymond Williams and the anti-Bourgeois figurations of art.


1. Literature and its unconscious origin--automatic writing, Surrealism, Dadaism...

2. Literature and desire in language c.f. the works of Kristeva.

3. Literature as symptom c.f. Slavoj Zizek.

4. Literature and schizophrenia in all its capitalist contours c.f. Deleuze and Guattari.

5. Literature and lack as a textual and epistemic gap--how language creates holes in knowledge as it writes c.f. Jacques Lacan.