Hamlet Marxist Criticism Essay

1688 Words Apr 8th, 2013 7 Pages
AP Literature and Composition
3 April 2013
Socialism and Shakespeare Throughout the entirety of Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, if one looks carefully, one can see many aspects of Marxist thought prevalent in the story. To effectively analyze a story through a Marxist critical lens, the reader needs to pay close attention to how characters of different classes interact with one another, especially in respect to class oppression and social inequity, particularly if the actions or words of a character talk of rebellion against the upper classes. “To Marxist critics, a society's economic base determines the interests and styles of its literature; it is this relationship between determining base and determined superstructure that is the main
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This unique perspective allows them to illuminate certain aspects of Marxism that Shakespeare was critical of. Shakespeare uses them like ‘couch commentators’, speaking as outsiders looking upon the upper classes, and how influential their wealth is. They criticize how the social classes interact, questioning the right of Ophelia to essentially have paid her way to heaven. Shakespeare actually had much the same aspect on society. He may have been a famous playwright, but he was by no means wealthy or influential in the court. He lived only through selling his own labor. Shakespeare makes another important point in this scene when the gravedigger says, “There is no ancient gentlemen but gard’ners, ditchers, and grave-makers. They hold up Adam’s profession” (Shakespeare 5.1.27-8). Here, the gravedigger implies that the proletariat, being the more ancient and established class, should instead be the higher of the two classes. The working class has been around since the beginning, which gives them more right than the “great folk” to decide on how society should operate. The constant opression of the common class always leads to revolt by the proletariat. The ‘push-back’ of the common man is what creates the conflict with Laertes, leading the people to revolt. The gravediggers, following this philosophy, show Hamlet little respect when he asks who they are burying. Upon hearing the tongue-in-cheek response from the gravedigger, Hamlet is
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