The Theory Of Alienation In Charlie Chaplin's Film Modern Times

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The theory of alienation developed by Karl Marx depicts the estrangement of people due to living in a capitalist system of production. Through the manuscript “Estranged Labor” from his Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, Marx describes his theory of alienation and specifies on the four types of ways in which the worker is alienated. A vivid example of Marx’s theory of alienation can be seen through Charlie Chaplin’s comedy film Modern Times. In his film, the central idea of the theory of labor alienation and how the worker is affected by the alienation are depicted. The notion of alienation depicted in Marx’s “Estranged Labor” is also depicted in Chaplin’s Modern Times. In Marx’s Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts of 1844, he explains the process of how workers become alienated from living in a capitalist society through his “Estranged Labor” manuscript. Marx specifies on the four aspects in which the worker is estranged from his labor: product, labor, self, and man. Charlie Chaplin’s film Modern Times also shows a notion of alienation of the worker. The beginning of the film first shows the process in which every worker does his own job. Soon, it begins to show viewers the harsh and inhumane working conditions of the workers. Constantly having to do the same job over and over again, the first few minutes of the film span out how Chaplin slowly begins to lose his mind. These two different works can be connected through the notions of the alienation of labor.

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