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Marxism In The Scarlet Letter

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Chritopher and Ryan Lacey

on 27 October 2014

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Transcript of Marxism In The Scarlet Letter

What is Marxism?
Marxism Theory is a theory about class and economic relations within a society and how they effect the society as a whole. The theory was developed by Karl Marx (also known as the Father of Communism).
Major Points of Marxist Theory
People act and think based on economic factors in their society.
People that control industries take advantage of those below them.
This happens through conditions of employment and by forcing their values and belief systems on others.
How Critics Apply this Theory
Marxist theory is usually applied by examining the text as a commodity that reinforces certain social beliefs. It is also applied by analyzing the effects of power from economic or social class.
Marxism and The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter is very much based off social class. The Minister who also committed adultery was afraid to tell the townspeople that he was also involved because he didn't want to be ostracized or lose his ranking. It also shows how people of higher class tend by be able to rule over those of a lower class. This is shown when Dimmesdale has enough power over Hester to keep her from telling the secret of who the father was.
Who is Karl Marx?
Karl Heinrich Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, historian, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. He was the writer of The Communist Manifesto. According to Marx, states were run on behalf of the ruling class and in their interest while representing it as the common interest of all.Marx is typically cited, with Émile Durkheim and Max Weber, as one of the three principal architects of modern social science
Marxism In The Scarlet Letter
Individual and Community in the Scarlet Letter
A critical analysis of the Scarlet Letter looking at Marxist theory written by R.V. Young.
R. V. Young was a professor of Renaissance Literature and Literary Criticism in the English Department of North Carolina State University.
He is know for many articles looking at many different theories in book of the 1600's-1800's
First main idea from the article
Second Main Idea From the Article
Third Main Idea From the Article
The first main idea is that the puritans used their individualism to separate form the English church and that it is shown through the characters of Hester, Rodger, and Arthur. They embody the tensions that arise in a community based on individual assertion. Showing that there are many complications that come from living in society where there is no sense of community.
Hester herself embodies an individual breaking from the normal of her community. Her community demands of its members a high level of conformity to the practices and principles of life among individuals. So as an adulteress who bears an illegitimate child, Hester is by that fact alone a threat to social cohesion and subject to the full weight of the public's punishment.
Second Main Idea From the Article, Continued
The actions of Hester and Dimmesdale are determined by their social status. Hester is brought down in her status and seeks ways to rebuild it. But ultimately realizes that without total revolution it is next to impossible for women to improve their social status. Dimmesdale is highly valued in the community and he refuses to tell the truth through most of the story to remain there. But finally realizes that the only way for him to get salvation is to admit his sins and accept his punishment.

The final idea iterated in the article is that tension between the individual and the community can never be resolved, nor should it be. This is because the tension between the individual and community isn't what destroys a community, its what allows it to grow. Young even states "For it is the friction between strong, imaginative individuals and the necessary limits of social order that generates the vigor and vitality of a community, just as resistance in the filament is necessary for an electric light bulb to glow incandescent." Saying that without something or someone challenging a community, that community becomes stagnant and will eventually die.
Final Idea
R. V. Young strongly believe that the individual and community are vital to each other and that without one the other wouldn't only struggle, but most likely cease to survive. This strongly relates to Marxist theory in that according to Marxist theory there is a constant struggle between the workers and the bosses creating the best situation for them all.
A Marxist Analysis of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter

An analysis of the Scarlet Letter looking at Marxist theory.
Written by "Lord Mandos"
He lives in The Peoples Republic of China so is most likely a communist.
It is interesting to get an analysis from someone who believes in Marx's theory of communism.
Main Idea 1
The first main idea is that in the story there are two main classes, the Bourgeoisie and Proletariat. These are represented by the Church and its officials and the common people, respectively. In this society the churches have all the power while the common people suffer. The Churches also use their power to widen the gap between high and low class giving them even more power resulting in a endless cycle.
Main Idea 1 Continued
This idea is communicated mainly through Hester. Since the church at this time has absolute power, and adultery was considered a terrible crime, Hester is forced into a unfair and harsh punishment. Hester then realizes that she is trapped in this position and the only way to try and stop the oppression is to rise up and bend the rules.
Main Idea 2
According to Marx religion was created by the proletariat as a vent for anger at injustice. But then later taken by the upper class to create more power and further suppress the proletariat. Religion is repeatedly used by the Church as a tool to take down Hester. Hester is imprisoned, shamed, and forced to wear the scarlet letter. This works causing the church to gain power and Hester becomes an out cast in her own community.
Final Idea
This final idea expressed by the author is admittedly a bit of a stretch. The author states that as Hester realizes the need for a revolution she decides to try and start it herself. She decides to do this by committing adultery with Dimesdale. Thinking this will draw attention to the hypocritical and oppressive nature of the bourgeois-controlled church as well as undermine its credibility.
Final Idea Continued
This plan however, fails to succeed. According to the author her plan relies on Dimesdale getting caught and that is the reason it fails. The only way Dimesdale would get caught would be if either he admitted it or if Hester accused him of it. And both of these would never happen, admittance because Dimesdale doesn't want to give up the life he has and accusation because Hester is so far down in terms of class no one would listen.
The concept of Marxist theory is that there is a constant struggle between classes and without revolution the upper class will continue to suppress the lower class.
This is shown in the Scarlet Letter by the setting, indivual characters, and the community in general.
Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Scarlet Letter. Pleasantville, NY: Reader's Digest Association, 1984. Print.
"Individual and Community in The Scarlet Letter- TIC." The Imaginative Conservative. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2014.
"Thread: A Marxist Analysis of The Scarlet Letter." TribalWars Forum RSS. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2014.
Works Cited
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