Dr. Kate Liu
21 March 2000
"Ideology and Literary Form: 3. Charles Dickens."
Terry Eagleton mentions the particular and ambivalent positions of petty bourgeoisie in the social formation between the aristocracy and the proletarian society. Eagleton also points out the contradictions of the bourgeois society presented in Dickens' fiction or novels; meanwhile, he takes George Eliot and her works as examples to discuss the relation of the ideology and Dickens' works.
1. What are the typical contradictions of bourgeois society?
2. What does the absent center mean in Dickens' novel? What is the absent center in the works of Dickens? What's the function of the absent center in Dickens' works?
3. What are status of realist text in the earlier and the later years of Dickens?
4. What's perspective of Terry Eagleton's reading in this discussion of "Charles Dickens"?
I. The petty bourgeoisie with ambiguous status in the social formation "encompasses the significant range of experience" and points out the typical contradictions of bourgeois society. (125).
A. The production of major fiction in Victorian Society proves the "conventional bourgeois experience in England" (125).
B. The writer's ambivalent class-relation to society could "be open to the contradictions" and generate the major art of the Victorian period (126).
A. The petty bourgeois ideology exists in the contradictory unity, which derives from "the ideological realms of both dominant and dominated classes in the social formation" (126).
A. Literary texts is "the peculiarly complex" containing the characters' mode of insertion into the hegemonic ideological forms, and is also "in part the product of literary realism" (126).
B. "The ideology of the realist text resides in the formal mutations and displacement signifying attempts to "subordinate other modes of discourse" (126).
II. "A central symbol of Dickens' Romantic humanism is childhood innocence" (128).
A. The child's passivity presents the situation of oppression and creates a "realm of untaintable goodness" far from the secular world (128).
B. "The child's very blankness" demonstrates the dominant social forces" (128).
III. Dickens ' fiction reveals a contradiction between the social reality and the transcendental moral value; meanwhile, it also "deploys literary devices to resolve ideological conflict" (128-30).
B. The effect of this contradiction is "a set of formal dissonance" in the Dickens' novels. (128).
C. Dickens' novels "offer their self-contradictory forms and internal inconsistencies as part of the historical meaning" (129).
D. The aesthetically unifying images of social institutions created in Dickens' novel are the target of his criticism (129).
E. Dickens' novels present and depict the historical development or change of the bourgeois society or capitalist society in the Victorian period.(130)
"Brecht and Rhetoric."
Terry Eagleton uses Brecht's main dramatic technique of "alienated effect" as the premise to discuss its relation with "alienated acting" and the space formed between the actor and his/ her roles. Eagleton also emphasizes the concept of Epic Theater: "to think crudely" in the relation between the theatre and the politics.
1. What does the " Rhetoric" mean in this essay? (469)
2. What are the function and meaning of the "void" alienated acting in Brechet theatre? (468).
3. What's the function of the theatre in terms of Eagleton's words? (469)
4. How does Eagleton see or read Brecht's works in this esssay?
I. The alienated acting is, in Brecht's concept, a sense of hollow or void which generates a space between actor and action and also take apart "the ideological self-identity of the routine social behavior"(468).
II. "Brecht's theater deconstructs social process into rhetoric or social practices" (469).
A. "Rhetoric means grasping language and action in the context of the politico-discursive conditions" (469).
B. "Rhetoric precedes logic: grasping propositions is only possible by participating in specific forms of social life"(469).
III. "The aim of Brecht's theory is to reverse the unhappy process of acting and regress us to a childlike condition, and make us all amateurs again" (270).
A. The process of child's mimesis begins with effect of spontaneous involvement with forms of life to the formation of "a logical or representational system" (270).
B. "The Marxist is confronted by ideological system and has to return their way to the practical conditions of suppressed rhetoric or mode of social performance" (270).
IV. The concept of theory derives from the childhood puzzlement.
A. "The theory is a "logical refuge" of those puzzled or naïve not to find simply rhetorical answers…" (270).
B. "The theoretical question is as much as a performative as the language it challenges" and a new way to view other languages (271).
"The ' Piccolo Teatro': Bretolazzi and Brecht. Notes on a Materialist Theatre."
Althusser pointed out the essential component of the materialist theatre-- the latent asymmetrical critical structure." With applications of Brecht and Bertolazzi's plays, he also discusses the "alienated effect" and the production of a new consciousness in the spectator.
1. What is the "latent asymmetrical critical structure" within Brecht's plays or the materialist theatre?
2. Is the asymmetrical decentered structure intrinsic to the materialist theatre? (369).
3. What's Marxist fundamental principle toward the dialectic of consciousness? (370)
4. Is there any contradictory existing within Althusser's understanding of Brecht or materialist theatre?
I. The dynamic of the latent structure within the materialist thestre is "the basic critique of the illusion of consciousness and false dialectic"(369).
A. The silent confrontation of a consciousness with an "undialectical" reality presents the true critique of the illusions of consciousness. (369).
B. "There is no dialectic of consciousness which could reach the reality itself by its own contradictions…but by the radical discovery of what is other than itself" (370).
IV. The dynamic of the play's latent structure exists on the dynamic relation between "consciousness of self and the real conditions of their existence" (371).
A. "The disappearance of hero, the object of identification, has been seen as the very precondition of the alienation -effect" (272).
B. "The distance between the spectator and the play should be produced with the play itself"(272)
V. The spectator's consciousness within the relation between the spectator and the performance: two classical model of the spectatorial consciousness. (373).
A. The first model is the spectator's consciousness of the self. (373).
B. The second model is the identification model, the psychoanalytic concept (373-4).
VI. In the theatrical world, the ideology is the essential place of a competition and a struggle where gather and echo humanity's political and social struggles.(374)
A "The self-recognition presupposes as its principle an essential identity which uniting the spectator
and actors assembled in the same place…"(374).
B. "The play is the spectator's consciousness …the development, the production of a new consciousness in the spectator." (375).
Althusser, Louis. "The ' Piccolo Teatro': Bretolazzi and
Brecht. Notes on a Materialist Theatre." A Practical
Reader in Contemporary Literary Theory. Ed. Peter
Brooks and Peter Widdowson. New York: Prentice
Hall, ? 369-75.
Eagleton, Terry. "Ideology and Literary Form: 3. Charles
Dickens." Criticism and Ideology: A Study in Marxist
Literary Theory. London: Verso, 1976. 44-63.
---. "Brecht and Rhetoric." Contemporary and Literary
Criticism Ed. Robert Con Davis and Ranald Schleifer.
New York: Longman, 1994. 468-71.