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Political Literary Criticism

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Teaching Resources

on 12 December 2013

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Transcript of Political Literary Criticism

Political Literary Criticism
Politics Shape our Worldview

-Political readings of literature focus on social aspects of a text, as opposed to personal or individual factors.

-Political critics encourage readers to forget about aesthetics and personal responses, and think about the texts political roots.
Power Struggles
-Scholar Rex Gibson explains that "Political perspectives assert that every aspect of human life is rooted in politics and power" (Gibson).

-As a result, Political literary criticism focuses on the treatment of power and its distribution within a story.

-Literary critics look for what can be learned from the politics in a story through what it reveals about the society it explores.

Marxist Beliefs (in a nutshell)
All decisions and historical events are made with economic power and a longing for superiority in mind.
For this reason, society will always have an upper class (bourgeoisie), that exploits the lower class (proletariat).
He theorized that the proletariat would eventually grow frustrated enough to overthrow the bourgeoisie to create an equal society.
In Hamlet Consider:
-What can we learn from the shift in politics? What shift occurs?

-What political system is in play? Who is in power? How did they get there?

-What consequences occur because of this system?

-What does the story tell us about the effectiveness of the political system?

-What issues are the people in power most concerned with? What is the result of this concern?

-What strategies do the people in power use to garner and maintain their power?

-How do the political structures mimic historic and current political situations?

-What role does religion play in the organization of the society in the text?

-How are characters treated within this system?

-Is there a character or class that is oppressing a lower class?

-Is there a character or class that is being ignored or taken advantage of?

Note: The formatting of these sources is NOT MLA style due to restrictions with this presentation software. Do not use this as an exemplar!
Gibson, Rex. Teaching Shakespeare. Cambridge. 1998.
-Looks at the economic, social and religious aspects of a text.

- Believes that literature is created to highlight class tensions and political ideologies of any given time.

-Economic factors dictate the form and content of social institutions such as law, religion, government, education,religion, literature and drama (Gibson).

Marxist Theory and Literature
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