Marxist Criticism

Along with psychoanalytical, feminist, and cultural criticism, Marxist literary criticism exemplifies what the French philosopher Paul Ricouer terms a "hermeneutics of suspicion." These are approaches that concern themselves not with what the text says but what it hides. As Terry Eagleton, a leading Marxist critic, writes, the task of Marxist literary criticism "is to show the text as it cannot know itself, to manifest those conditions of its making (inscribed in its very letter) about which it is necessarily silent." By its very nature, ideology is silent. Like the water in the aquarium breathed by the fish, ideology is virtually invisible but essential. In culture, ideology's invisibility gives it greater power. Ideology - defined in general as the shared beliefs and values held in an unquestioning manner by a culture - exerts a powerful influence upon a culture. Those who are marginalized in the culture are most aware of the ways in which an ideology supports the dominant class in the society. Those who enjoy the fruits of belonging to a dominant group of the society barely generally are filled with what Marx called "false consciousness." Since it is not in their interest to notice the ways in which an economic structure marginalizes others, they tend to buy into an ideology that supports that structure.

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