I. Marxists' theory of ideology account for literature.
A. "Marxists explanations of literature's relationship
with ideology are highly 'reductive.'"
B. For Louis Althusser, "literature gives us a sense of what
it is like to exist within a particular ideology, and
produces thus sense of 'lived' ideology because literary form
is capable of showing us the nature of ideology
with a sort of aesthetic detachment."
C. Literary forms are themselves expressions of class ideologies
D. Pierre Macherey suggests that literature can "show the incoherence
II. Defoe's Moll Flanders is considered as the expression
of bourgeois ideology.
from Raman Seldon. Practicing Theory
and Reading Literature. "Section22, Text: Deniel Defoel, Moll Flanders."
Kentucky: 1989: pp152 - 57.
A. "Weber thesis" about the connections between capitalism
and the "Protestant ethic" suggests that "Calvin's
'inward' ethical attitude, which saw the individual life as a
'labour' for a deferred end, also resembled capitalist
B. Defoe's identity as both an entrepreneur and a religious dissenter
affects the Puritan/capitalist ideological
"melange" (Moll's double perspective in her narration: her indulgence
and lament of her "wicked" life.) of his
C. "The incoherence and contradictions are suppressed in ideology's
D. Moll Flanders suggests that the new and ruthless capitalists
of the times resemble in their values the
criminal underworld of the day.
E. The paradoxical and contradictory nature is a direct effect
of the ideology Defoe produces in his text.
F. The use of retrospective narration works upon the ideological
material of Puritan and entrepreneurial discourse (157).
III. Marxist reading of King Lear: An overt polemic
play in favor of the ruling aristocratic group and a
denunciation of the new groups.
from "Alan Sinfield: Marcbeth: History,
Ideology and Intellectuals." Theory Into Practice: A Reader in Modern
Literary Criticism. K. M. Newton. London: Macmillan P, 1992.
A. History backgrounds
1. King Lear is situated at the juncture between the
old feudal form and the emerging capitalist form of society."
B. King Lear is a tragedy of a transitional economy.
2. The "inflation of honors" and the rising of a new group of
landless noble created a new class who believed in dissent whereas the
old in obedience (55).
1. "The first scene of the play can be read as evoking
a world of feudal forms and customs"(56).
C. "The ideological work of the play consists of evoking disaster
and then healing it".
2. "Cordelia's rebellion represents an attempt to reassert the
appropriately aristocratic ideal of fealty. It should
be a matter of recognized custom, not market exchange."
3. Cordelia's marriage suggests that in the new social system,
one's value came to depend on external valuation, or "price"(57).
4. Linked to Goneril and Regan by the word "prosper," the most
representative member of the new class is Edmund (58).
5. Edgar and Kent are embodiments of appropriate feudal attitudes:
trust and fealty.
6. "The tragedy is as much a crisis of aristocratic privilege
as it is the expression of a personal fault"(59).
1. "The first step in restoration is to reaccredit the
grounding of the aristocratic ideology in a cosmological or
natural scheme that lends it legitimacy"(60).
2. King Lear condemns Edmund and associates him with both the
new rationalism and the new prosperity
while also depicts a flawed feudal society.
3. Edgar's ascension in the end represents a reinstatement of
the feudal mechanism (61).
4. In "humanizing" the king, Shakespeare welds together the two
contending poles of monarchical authority and
individual subjectivity and expands the subjective self-reflection
IV. Macbeth --a play about evil "between the violence which
the state considers legitimate and that which it does not"(275).
Theory Into Practice. "Alan Sinfield:
Marcbeth: History, Ideology and Intellectuals." p 275-289.
A. History backgrounds
1. In sixteenth century Europe, the development was from
Feudalism to the Absolutism State.
B. Jamesian reading of Macbeth
2. The Absolutism ideology was said to be "natural" and ordained
by "God"; it was good and disruption of it
3. King James tried to protect the Absolutist State by asserting
an utter distinction between "a lawful good
King" and "an usurping Tyrant"(278).
4. In Buchanan's view sovereignty derives from and remains with
the people; the king who exercise power
against their will is a tyrant and should be deposed (281).
1. The split between legitimacy and actual power is a
potential malfunction in the developing Absolutist State.
C. Buchananian reading of the play
2. Macbeth's killing of Mcdonwald-"a rebel" (I. Ii. 10) can be
treat as "good" violence when it is in the service of
the prevailing disposition of power; however, when it disrupts
them it is evil (276).
3. Macbeth's contact with supernatural powers suggests that his
violence is wholly bad.
4. "Absolutist ideology declared that even tyrannical monarchs
must not be resisted, yet Macbeth could hardly allowed to be triumph
1. The final position of Macduff suggests that Macbeth
is a murderer and an oppressive ruler, but he is one
C. Macbeth allows two different interpretations.
version of the Absolutist ruler, not the polar opposite (283).
2. Macduff's killing of Macbeth suggests that the Absolutist
monarch is an ideological strategy.
3. The play insists on complete divine control of all human events.
4. There may be considerable overlap between the qualities of
the tyrant and the true king.
1. The Buchanan disturbance is in the play.
D. Macbeth can either be regarded as attempting to render coherent
and persuasive the ideology of the
2. Buchanan disturbance is a consequence of the writer's skepticism
about Jamesian ideological strategies
and his concern with current political issues.
3. We may assume that the Buchanan disturbance is part of the
response of some among the play's initial audiences.
Absolutist State and designed for the king (279), or to expose,
rather than promote, State ideologies (289).
1. In the criticism of Moll Flanders, is the historical
survey of the relationship between the author's and the text's
prevailing ideologies necessarily dialectical?
2. Marxist critics make a division between the "overt" (surface)
and "covert" (hidden) content of a text and then
relate them together. Should all the conflicts in King Lear be
considered as a tragedy of social confliction rather
than a personal one?
3. Macbeth can be interpreted in two oppositional ways. Both
ways to interpret the play seem to be the
subversion of the other. Which way do you think it more easily
to be revealed in the play?