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Essay: The Marxist Lens

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  • Subject area(s): Literature essays
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  • Published: September 17, 2021*
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Thesis: In the novel Candide, Voltaire uses the struggles of the protagonist, Candide, to demonstrate the effects of the rigid class structure during this era, while also showing the consequences these strict standards can cause.

Annotated Bibliography

Berg-Pan, R. World Literature Today, vol. 51, no. 1, 1977, pp. 170–170. JSTOR,
www.jstor.org/stable/40090698

The theory of Marxism, and more specifically the effectiveness of Marxist literary criticism, can be easily diminished when not supported with credible sources and research. Throughout the review of Marxism and Literary Criticism, R. Berg-Pan discusses how the author Terry Eagleton provides his readers with reliable information and a simplified introduction to the Marxist theory. Unlike other Marxist literary criticism authors, Eagleton is able to give a deep insight into the theory itself in a short eighty-eight-page novel, due to his commitment to his beliefs. Since Eagleton studied the theory of Marxism beginning in the 1970s, ran a seminar on Marxist literary theory in the 1980s, and published several books on the traditions of Marxism, he serves as an extremely dependable source. Voltaire’s novel Candide, the main character Candide serves as an ideal exemplification of Karl Marx’s theory of Marxism. This review of Eagleton’s novel has provided me a vast amount of convenient information on the theory of Marxism and the benefits of Marxist literary criticism.

Colodny, Robert G. “The Problem of the Ruling Class in Marxist Theory: A Comment.” Science
& Society, vol. 51, no. 1, 1987, pp. 93–96. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40402764

The Marxist theory, also known as Marxist philosophy is commonly defined as literary works in philosophy that are actively guided the theory of Marxism created by Karl Marx. The essential features of Marxism in philosophy are not only viewing material possessions as more important than spiritual values, as well as being committed to setting administrative political duties as the overall desired result of everything. The comment article, written by Robert G. Colodny, discusses the complications that can be caused in the upper class when considering Karl Marx’s theory. Colodny analyzes John Hoffman’s essay on The Problem of the Ruling Class in Marxist Theory: Some Conceptual Preliminaries, and states how Hoffman’s work serves as an extremely valuable source for historians studying Marxism due to its comprehensibility and credibility. John Hoffman is a Professor of Political Theory at the University of Leicester and has written a plethora of novels on political science, gender, and sovereignty, as well as social science. The accomplishments this author has achieved throughout his life proves him to be a highly reliable source. This comment article connects to the review R. Berg-Pan because they both discuss the effects of Marxism and Marxist literary criticism, as well as how various Marxist authors define and introduce Karl Marx’s theory.

Hoffman, Philip T. The Journal of Interdisciplinary History, vol. 22, no. 1, 1991, pp. 105–107.
JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/204571

In many novels during the 17th and 18th centuries, the main focus mirrored the ideas of The Enlightenment movement. In this review of sociologist Robert Wuthnow’s novel, author Philip Hoffman discusses the importance of literary standards during the Enlightenment. In the review, Hook analyzes how some uncommon works can come off as too discordant and irregular to procure positive feedback, while some other works can seem too practical and realistic and therefore won’t receive any praise and won’t attain any noteworthiness. Since Robert Wuthnow is the Professor of Sociology at Princeton University he serves as an extremely dependable source for my topic because of his education in the sociology field and being a highly distinguished author. Similar to how Hook analyzes the effect of unorthodox literary works, Voltaire strays away from the accepted standards of the time and explains the harsh realities of a rigid class structure during the Enlightenment in his novel. This review of Robert Wuthnow’s novel has provided me an immense amount of useful information on the cultural changes in society during this time period, as well as the effects these developmental shifts have on the social structure.

Hook, Sidney. “The Enlightenment and Marxism.” Journal of the History of Ideas, vol. 29, no.
1, 1968, pp. 93–108. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2708467

During The Enlightenment, there was a rigid class structure, dividing each person into one of the three classes: Upper Class, Middle Class, and the Working Class. Throughout this journal article, author Sidney Hook discusses the complex and unkempt relationship between Marxism and The The Enlightenment. In the article Hook analyzes the beliefs associated with The Enlightenment, faith in reason or science and the belief in the natural rights of man, and the reasoning behind the Marxist movements during that century, to regard socialism as a means of furthering democracy and to regard democracy simply as a means of furthering socialism. Unlike various other writers who boasted about their immense understanding of the theory of Marxism, Sidney Hook was the only experienced philosopher who was educated on the subject and was able to bring a detailed comprehension of Marx’s theory. This allowed him to provide readers with genuine sources in order to solve disputes and claims that became so visible during his life. By having the information given in this journal I will be able to distinguish the similarities between Marxist and Enlightenment thinkers and will have greater insights as to how the theory of Marxism affected the strict class structure during this time period.

Katz, Elihu, et al. “Status Mobility and Reactions to Deviance and Subsequent Conformity.”
Sociometry, vol. 27, no. 3, 1964, pp. 245–260. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/2785617

During The Enlightenment, social mobility was questioned due to the newfound concept of reason in society. Throughout this journal article, authors Elihu Katz, William L. Libby, Jr. and Fred L. Strodtbeck conduct multiple experiments to further discuss the effects conformity has on status mobility. In their summary and discussion, the authors concluded that an increase in conformity most commonly results in an improved status and mobility. Elihu Katz is American and Israeli sociologist who graduated from Columbia University where he worked alongside his mentor to write a book, now commonly referred to as an important aspect in the two-step flow model of communication. Due to his many qualifications, Katz acts as an exceptionally reliable source for my topic. This article connects to The Enlightenment and Marxism journal by Sidney Hook, because they both discuss the complexity of class structure and social mobility. Throughout the novel of Candide, the views of social mobility are shown through the various changes of fortune throughout all of the main characters. Although each main character began high up in the social hierarchy at the beginning of the story, the social status of the characters shifts dramatically as the story progresses. Through these events, it is revealed that the social mobility of this time was extremely malleable and did not revolve around the wealth or status of a person.

Patel, Amrish, and Edward Cartwright. “Naïve Beliefs and the Multiplicity of Social Norms.”
Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics (JITE) / Zeitschrift Für Die Gesamte
Staatswissenschaft, vol. 168, no. 2, 2012, pp. 280–289., www.jstor.org/stable/41653659

Naïvety is best defined by a person with an extreme lack of judgment or experience in everyday situations. Throughout this journal, authors Amrish Patel and Edward Cartwright discuss how the beliefs of naïve and rational people affect not only their decisions and actions they chose but how they evolve as a person. Patel and Cartwright analyze how naïve viewers chose to believe in anything they are told without inquiring whether or not the statement was credible, and decide to view things only at their superficial appearance. Rational viewers, on the other hand, choose to view situations with a more realistic approach and make decisions based on reason rather than letting their emotions overcome them. Amrish Patel works in the Department of Economics at the University of Gothenburg working in both the behavioral economics and game theory fields, while Edward Cartwright works as Professor of Economics at De Montfort University. As a result of these various achievements and qualifications, these authors are very credible for this topic. The protagonist, Candide, is an extremely naïve character who is exceedingly vulnerable to the domination of the other strong-minded characters. Similar to Patel and Cartwright’s statements, naïve people allow others to influence their decisions due to their disregard for reliable sources.

Van Leeuwen, Marco H.D., and Ineke Maas. “Historical Studies of Social Mobility and
Stratification.” Annual Review of Sociology, vol. 36, 2010, pp. 429–451. JSTOR,
www.jstor.org/stable/25735086

Throughout the many eras such as the Byzantine, the Elizabethan, the Romantic, and many more, the ideas of a social hierarchy system have remained the same. However, the mobility between classes has dramatically changed through various time periods. Throughout this journal, authors Marco H.D. van Leeuwen and Ineke Maas discuss their historical research on social mobility and structure, as well as the shifts in the social imbalance in earlier years and what factors caused these outcomes. Marco H.D. van Leeuwen is an honorary research associate at the International Institute of Social History as well as a Professor of Historical Sociology in Utrecht. Ineke Maas is a Professor at the Department of Sociology at the Universiteit Amsterdam and studies trends in mobility throughout generations, in careers, as well as in marital situations. Due to their many qualifications, Leeuwen and Maas act as an exceptionally reliable source for my topic. This article connects to the Status Mobility and Reactions to Deviance and Subsequent Conformity journal by Elihu Katz, William L. Libby Jr., and Fred L. Strodtbeck because they both discuss the differences of social mobility throughout various eras.

Zollman, Kevin James Spears. “Social Structure and the Effects of Conformity.” Synthese, vol.
172, no. 3, 2010, pp. 317–340. JSTOR, www.jstor.org/stable/40496044

Conforming to the rules and standards of one’s society can cause harmful or beneficial effects on a person, depending on the severity of the situation. Throughout this journal article, author Kevin James Spears Zollman discusses the overall effects conformity has on a person, and more specifically what effects conformity has on different obdurate social networks and their structure. By analyzing a mathematical model of the conformist behavior, Zollman was able to distinguish the positive effects conformist behavior has on individual reliability and the negative effects it has on a group’s reliability. Due to Zollman’s familiarity and research focus on game theory — the study of mathematical models of calculated reactions between reasonable decision makers — and his profession as an associate professor in the Department of Philosophy at Carnegie Mellon University, he serves as an extremely credible source on this topic. In Voltaire’s Candide, Candide is influenced by his wealth and confidence about what lies ahead. It isn’t until Candide is throw out of his home that he realizes the hardships other people encounter and that he was wrong to be optimistic. This journal article written by Kevin James Spears Zollman has provided me an extensive amount of effective information on the positive and negative effects conformity has on a person or group, as well as how these effects are reflected in social structures.

22.2.2019

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