Marxist Theory and Oedipus the King

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Marxist Theory and Oedipus the King "The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles" (Marx and Engels 2). This excerpt, taken from Karl Marx's and Friedrich Engels' The Communist Manifesto, explains the two primary classes found throughout most of Europe during the era of the Industrial Revolution. These classes were the bourgeoisie and the proletariat. The former were known as the "exploiters" and the latter as the "exploited". The wealth, power, and prestige of the bourgeoisie, acquired mostly from their control of institutions, industries, and means of production, enabled them to force upon the proletariat their economic, political, and religious ideologies. These are the same ideologies "used to maintain certain social relations" (Eagleton 466). These very ideologies are what "make the masses loyal to the very institutions that are the source of their exploitation" (Tischler 16). Once the proletariat ceases to believe in or abide by those ideologies, revolt is inevitable, and the moment it occurs, so does the destruction or alteration of a single controlling and tyrannical power altogether. Thus, it can be said that "the bourgeoisie reign is doomed when economic conditions are ripe and when a working class united by solidarity, aware of its common interests and energized by an appropriate system of ideas, confronts its disunited antagonists" (Rideneir). If the text of the play Oedipus the King by Sophocles is analyzed using this historical form of Marxist criticism, which is context-oriented, the perpetual class struggles within this society at Thebes is revealed. Upon reading the play, there is an apparent class structure found throughout. In Oedipus Tyrannus, two mai... ... middle of paper ... ...s own fate. Among class struggles, the lower class will in some way, rise to defeat their rulers. It is inevitable. Sources Cited Fish, Thomas E. Critical Summary of "Literature and History." Marxism and Literary Criticism. U of California P, 1976. 1-19. Rpt. in Contexts for Criticism. Ed. Donald Keesey. 3rd ed. 25 Oct. 2000 http://www.cumber.edu/litcritweb/theory/eagleton.htm. Marx, Karl, and Friedrich Engels. The Communist Manifesto. Trans. Paul M. Sweeny. New York: Monthly Review Press, 1998. Rideneir. "The Sociology of Knowledge." Marxist Theory of Class Struggles.1 Nov. 2000 http://raven.jmu.edu/~rideneir/dss/index.html. Sophocles. Oedipus Tyrannus. Norton Critical ed. Trans. Luci Berkowitz and Theodore F. Brunner. New York: Norton, 1970. Tischler, Henry L. Introduction to Sociology. 6th ed. Orlando, Florida: Harcourt, 1999.
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