Oedipus the King – Exploited or Exploiter?
Great thinkers throughout history have contrived intricate theories of social order. By applying these particular ideologies to literature, we as readers are able to see a great work through the eyes of one or many of history’s most celebrated philosophers. Sophocles’ Oedipus the King has been open to many interpretations. With its intricate plot, archetypical tragic character, and lofty social issues, Oedipus the King provides for virtually any and all interpretations. One such literary theory is Marxism.
Marxism, the sociological system of belief created and presented by Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, has had profound influence on western politics and world sociologic theory since its introduction in the mid 19th Century. During this time, the Age of Industrialization was in full swing, and many workers were exploited and forced to work unreasonable hours. Marx noticed that in this society the rich upper echelon took advantage of huge lower class.
In response to these observations, Marx developed a set of ideals in which one faction of people could not dominate another. The cornerstone of this sociological and economic theory is the strict belief that “an upper class arises to dominate a working class of unconscious individuals” (Cole 76). In order to counteract this negative trend, a society must rid itself of the caste-like class system that divides its peoples into different economic and social levels.
Marxists argue that in a democratic or monarchical society, two major classes come into being: the Bourgeoisie, or exploiters, and the Proletariat, or exploited. Marx and Engels believed that the upper class (Bourgeoisie) controlled the financial situation w…
…ial system. However, in recent history, this political theory has all but been totally refuted by modern idea and new edicts. In today’s society, classes still remain, but in virtually all industrialized countries the middle class overwhelmingly dominates all other factions. Much of this sociological triumph can be accredited to the insight of Karl Marx and his colleagues who presented the idea that the common man should be the ultimate focus of a society.
Works Cited and Consulted
Cole, G.D.H. The Meaning of Marxism. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 1964.
Frow, John. Marxism and Literary History. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard U P, 1986.
Kumar, Amitava. Class Issues, Pedagogy, Cultural Studies, and the Public Sphere. NewYork: New York U P, 1997.
Peck, John, and Martin Coyle. Literary Terms and Criticism. Hong Kong: Macmillan , 1984.