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Art Vs Trade Poem Analysis

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In “Art vs. Trade” by James Weldon Johnson, two entities in a society are examined. These two characters have a challenging relationship with each other due to their respective roles within society. However, they share similar behaviors and patterns. To understand what causes the interactions between these two entities and how each are affected by it, this poem must be analyzed with the Marxist Theory.
The second stanza of “Art vs. Trade” introduces the powerful people in the society of the text. In Marxist Theory, the powerful people, also known as the bourgeoisie, are the people who “own property [and] control the means of production” or base (Dobie 89). In “Art vs. Trade,” Trade is the powerful person or entity. Trade is described as living
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Trade” are not depicted in equal ways. In this piece, Trade is seen as a monstrous entity. Johnson first describes Trade as an Octopus that has “contaminated” the workers and prevents truthfulness (Lines 16-17). In the final stanza of the poem, Trade “stalks like a giant through the land” and upholds the wealthy while crushing those who are poor (Johnson Lines 29-32). In this poem, the bourgeoisie are not to be admired, but feared. They are depicted as being violent and deadly towards the members of the proletariat, while uplifting the wealthy class. On the other hand, the proletariat is the ones meant to have sympathy in this poem. Art has no source of protection form Trade, and is left dying in his grasp (Johnson Line 19). Art’s horrid treatment is meant to invoke sympathy for the proletariats and how they are treated in a capitalist…show more content…
In “Art vs. Trade” the bourgeoisie is consciously exploiting the working class. As mentioned earlier the entity of Trade believes that the world was created in order to fulfill his needs (Johnson Line 7). As a result he knowingly abuses Art and other people of the working class to get what he desires by overworking them. However, other members of the proletariat do not address their lack of power. The Marxist theory recognizes that due to the bourgeoisie’s hold over the superstructure, it has the ability to “entrap the proletariat into holding the sense of identity and worth” that the powerful class wants them to have (Dobie 93). In the poem the person responsible for addressing the maltreatment of the working class is the narrator. In the third stanza it is the narrator who ask, "is there no power to rescue her rescue her, protect, defend her" when Trade is strangling Art. Moreover it is the narrator who causes the audience to feel sympathy for the working class people by describing the abuse that they face. The narrator realizes the lack of power that the working class has and is the only one within the text to ask for a change to be
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