For Tuesday, November 15th

Posted in prompts at 3:45 pm by Dominique

Hi all,

AnnMarie Mark and Emina Basic are our main bloggers for this coming week. By Monday at midnight, after reading chapter 8 on Marxist criticism in the Bressler book, they should respond to the following prompt in a two-paragraph post of 500-550 words:

In one paragraph, isolate certain aspects of Marxist criticism that seem similar to other critical lenses we have discussed this semester. Please discuss those similarities. (You may want to use the packet with questions from each critical lens I distributed on Thursday to help you see connections between multiple approaches. Read through all the categories of questions together and leave yourself time to reflect on the assumptions and focus of each type of criticism.)

In a second paragraph, please write a Marxist critique of the passage in The Turn of the Screw that hints at Peter Quint and Miss Jessel’s relationship, beginning at the top of page 58 and going through the end of section 7 (page 59); you may want to re-read sections before and after this as well for additional context.

Commentators should build upon either of the two paragraphs that AnnMarie and Emina have written, adding in their own thoughts about crossover with other lenses or Marxist ways of reading the particular scene in James’s novella, in posts of 150-200 words.

You also have a 2-3 page summary of your cultural artifact due before class this Tuesday; please be sure it is posted in the appropriate Dropbox folder before our Tuesday session. This summary should give both a detailed sense of the plot and main characters in your “text,” assuming that your reader knows little to nothing about it; it should also indicate and describe scenes that seem absolutely essential to understanding this text.  This is NOT an analysis; you are not being asked to apply any one (or more) of the lenses at this point. We’ll discuss your summaries in class on Tuesday, in addition to discussing the quizzes from last week, and covering a basic introduction to Marxist criticism.

Good luck and enjoy the rest of the weekend!




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  1.    emina said,

    November 13, 2011 at 11:04 pm

    Marxist criticism comes from the concepts developed by Karl Marx, being first developed as a set of theories that were used politically and economically but then developed into a way to critique literature. Marxist criticism has many similarities with other literary critiques that we looked at throughout this semester. Two similarities that Bressler brings up in chapter 8 are Psychoanalytic and Feminist. He says that they are similar by both of them being concerned with what a text says, but also what it does not say (Bressler 180). They feel that when something is missing from the text that it is done on purpose. While I was reading I also found other similarities that were related to New historicism. Both New historicism and Marxism deal with major political, social and economic ideas. Both believe that the time frame a text was written in has an impact in the context of the story as well as the author and readers. During this time period, the economic state of that place has a big impact in the way the characters and text moves along. Marxists believe that the text is showing the authors way of life at a certain time. Many of the other critiques that we studied would disagree because they believe that everything we need is in the text its self and we should not mix our own personal views with the text. Marxism is mainly focused on race, class, culture and society (James 360). This is why its such a great example to use for “The Turn of The Screw”. Class is used throughout the whole text to show examples of superiority, especially when it comes to the women of the text. There is a hierarchal system in place, and with the children the Governess would be on top because of her ability to handle the children.
    On pages 58-59 in “The Turn of The Screw” the passage talks about the relationship between Peter Quint and Miss.Jessel. There is a conversation that is going on and from a Marxist point of view, one would pay close attention to the characters representing the different social classes. Peter Quint was a valet and was low on the social class structure, while Miss Jessel was doing the job that the Governess does now. “ Oh of their rank, their condition…she was a lady…And he so dreadfully bellow ” (James 58). Mrs.Grose says this referring to Quint, that Miss. Jessel was above him in the social ladder, and that is why their relationship was considered to be inappropriate, and the reason that is assumed for her leaving. Marxists believe that there is a division between “the have-nots and haves” (Bressler 180) and that there is always a “ power struggle”. In this text there is a division between the different social classes, and this relationship is kept quiet and not told directly to the readers on purpose to make a point. This is one of the main theories based on Marxist criticism. In this passage most of the things that are being discussed about Mr.Quint are all bad qualities, “I’ve never seen one like him. He did what he wished” “With her” “With them all”. Leaving out any good qualities about Quint, on purpose to make Miss.Jessel seem better because she was higher in the hierarchy system then he was.

  2.    amark916 said,

    November 14, 2011 at 12:31 am

    AnnMarie Mark

    As I read the chapter on Marxism, I quickly noticed the similarities between the Feminism, New Historicism, and Post Colonialism lenses in comparison with the Marxist lens. All of these lenses in their on rite focus on historical, social, economic, psychological, and political factors. Each lens suggests change in some way, whether it is focusing on changing the way females are viewed from a feminist perspective, or focusing on the time the text was composed and the issues going on during that time from a new historicist perspective, or focusing on the oppression of those who were ruled under colonization from a post colonist perspective. These lenses have all borrowed from the Marxism lens whether it is social or political. Marxism is known today as the traditional historical approach, this methodology declares that critics should lace a work in its historical setting, paying attention to the author’s life, the time period in which the work was written, and the cultural milieu (setting) of both the text and the author- all of these concerns being related to sociological issues (169). Marx believed that there is a direct link between literature and society and believes that literary texts can reveal truths about our social interactions (170). The main goal of the Marxist methodology is to expose the wrongs in society in an effort to bring forth social change.
    As I read page 58 in The Turn Of The Screw I immediately noticed how class plays a large role on these particular pages and the Marxist Lens definitely comes into play here. As with the Feminist Lens, the Marxist Lens focuses on social status. There is a passage where the governess is asking Mrs. Grose about Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. The governess is curious about the death of Miss Jessel and she asks Mrs. Grose if there was something between Peter Quint and Miss Jessel. Mrs. Grose responds:
    “There was everything.”
    “In spite of the difference—–?”
    “Oh of their rank, their condition”
    “She was a lady.”
    “And he so dreadfully below,” said Mrs. Grose (58).
    In this passage a Marxist would readily identify the division of social classes and identify how society from this particular era influenced the text as James wrote it. Miss Jessel was a governess and Quint did not match up to her on any social scale. Mrs. Grose views Quint as a hound (sexually indiscriminate man) and she mentions that Quint is beneath Miss Jessel. During the time James wrote this book, the mixing of the two social classes would have caused a stir in Bly. Also James hints that she may have been pregnant for Quint as well. A Marxist would readily identify the class conflict and reveal the dominant class and its accompanying ideology being imposed either consciously or unconsciously on the working class (178). A Marxist would also readily identify the way the governess speaks to Mrs. Grose at times because she is a servant. It is also apparent that she thinks Mrs. Grose is beneath her as well.

  3.    victoriane said,

    November 15, 2011 at 11:06 pm

    I agree with Emina and AnneMarie, Marxism may easily be crossed over with the new historicism lens. In both lenses social class is important, and from reading The Turn of the Screw we know social class made up an important part of the story. The social classes between the governess and Mrs. Grose had a strain in their relationship in regards to whom was able to more than the other. Another important part in both lenses is the economic context. The economic contexts in this story is with (as mentioned today in class) the governess took the job because she was running away from something and this position gave her stability she probably did not have. Lastly, as Emina mentions the time frame when the text was written is important because it impacts the story and its audience. In The Turn of the Screw during the time period it was written we learned people believed in photographing ghost, this could have been the idea in James story.

  4.    awilliams108 said,

    November 16, 2011 at 10:36 am

    Reading the two bloggs and comments i would also agree with everything that is said about Marxism in reference to Turn of the Screw. In victorian times governess was the entire subject of sexual misconduct where the first Marxist Criticism occurred where the goveness witness seeing a ghosts. She is consiously or not consciously in love with her master being a member of a higher soical class. The governess psychoanalysis behaviour forces her to impress the maters showing she can do the job as best as she can.
    She then pictures herself as an hero thinking that she can also protect Miles and Flora, and so to specking her fantasy invents the ghosts. From an economical stands the governess beliefs that once she help the kids and show that she a respected leader then she would be able to get back royalty, love and power (needs and wants) or (exchanges of goods and service).

  5.    khaff88 said,

    November 16, 2011 at 11:44 am

    After reading chapter 8 in Bressler I was starting to see a comparison between Marxism and Post Colonialism, like AnnMarie. In Marxism, the main questions we need to focus on are about class and what differs characters economically. What type of job they have and how much they make can portray the character. There is a sense of hierarchy and a level of authority based upon an income or how much labor a character does. In Post Colonialism we focus race, ethnicity and background of a character and how that differs them from the other characters. Both lenses identify characters by some kind of social standard, whether it by race or occupation and there is some sort of standard that divides the characters.

  6.    brianfinnerty91 said,

    November 16, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    Response to Anne Marie: I agree with Anne Marie’s post on how Marxism can easily be related to other such lenses like Post Colonialism and New Historicism. In Bressler’s chapter we learn that to be a Marxist one thinks that reality itself can be defined and understood. I liked how Anne Marie came to the conclusion that in all such lenses there main focus is on historical, political, social, physiological, and economic factors. So far in all the lenses that we have addressed the common theme is change and what is going on during the time that lenses was created. Marxism declares that it offers a comprehensive, positive view of human life and history that demonstrates how humanity can save itself from a life of despair. I also liked how Anne Marie compared Marxism to “The Turn of the Screw”. In the short story class and order is easily shown when it came to the main characters. Many characters such as Quint and Miss Jessel did not fit in with the class system. In Bressler’s chapter we learn about class and society and how as a Marxist we are supposed to expose the wrongs of society.
    -Brian Finnerty

  7.    GordonWTam said,

    November 16, 2011 at 2:59 pm

    A Marxist critical approach is largely idealized in roles and social class. AnnMarie went ahead and noted similarities in lenses we have studied before. I think it is interesting that one of the principles of Marxist thought is very similar to the psychoanalytical id, ego and superego. Marxism states that social and economical conditions both shape our consciousness and what we know and value. In response to the passage chosen, I think it was an well chosen dialogue. Roles in society are highlighted in it, and one interesting little tidbit. Even though Miss Jessel has fallen from grace from having an affair with this odious man named Peter Quint, in Mrs. Grose’s eyes she is still above him. Her social standing was so high that even Peter Quint, a male, was below her even after her supposed suicide.

  8.    beezy said,

    November 16, 2011 at 4:20 pm

    Societal roles are of vast importance in the Turn of the Screw. Marxism puts a heavy emphasis on social and economic status, and how that shapes our consciousness as well as our self of self-worth. Around the time this story takes place, status was everything. The governess was in love with the master, although she knew she should not be having those types of thoughts because she is of lower rank. At the same time, she is in a higher position than Mrs. Grose, and it is made clear that she is more knowledgeable and in command than Mrs. Grose. The notion of social status and power in the Turn of the Screw was quite powerful indeed. Miss Jessel had been having an affair with the “odious” Peter Quint, who was below her in rank and status. This led to her untimely demise due to the personal shame she could not wash away..

    -Enes Mrkulic

  9.    jruiz104 said,

    November 16, 2011 at 10:45 pm

    Jose Ruiz
    English 170W
    Marxist Criticism sees society economic structures as a foundation on which society thinks. In the book Turn of the Screw Mrs. Grove looks up to the governess because she had a higher social rank. According to both Emina and Anne Marie I agree that Marxist Criticism has many similarities with the other critical lens we learned throughout the semester. They both point out the Miss Jessel was in a higher hierarchy than Peter Quint. Thus, the governess was ashamed that she fell below her status and need to find a way to repair it. The governess tries to take care of the children’s to impress the headmaster. But we don’t know if the governess repair social status and it is for the reader to decide if she did or didn’t. In class we discussed about the risk if the governess fail. In my opinion I think she didn’t but in the governess unconscious state she thinks that she fixes her status because she was protecting the children from evil.

  10.    acervinaro90 said,

    November 16, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    After reading the two blogs I agree with both Emina and AnnMarie. I agreed with Emina when she wrote that Marxism and New Historicism deal with believing that the time period a text was written in makes an impact on the readers as well as the authors. They also believe that the text itself can be used to showing an authors way of life or the way of life at that point in time. Some critics may disagree with them because some critics believe that the text is all we need. As both Emina and AnnMarie mentioned Marxism is about race, class, economic status and throughout the whole story of “Turn of the Screw” we see that struggle with Mrs.Grose and the Governess. Even though the Governess respects Mrs.Grose at one point she threatens her because she knows she has power over her. One the Governess is educated and two she is also in a high position. We also see it between Mrs.Jessel and Peter Quint when we read that their relationship was considered inappropriate because of their different class standing. Class and economic status play a great role in this story.

    Alessandra Cervinaro

  11.    seng101 said,

    November 16, 2011 at 11:11 pm

    After reading through the Marxist chapter in Bressler we can apply what AnnMarie said about how the Marxism and other lens like Feminism are in some respects related to each other or at least have the same goals of analyzing a text. Both lenses look at text as though some sort of society is governing how the text is interpreted. Feminism sees society as being a male dominated, but Marxism looks at society as fallible and should be corrected. In The Turn of the Screw we see Peter Quinn and Miss Jessel to be an example of how class levels in society at that time were accepted. For the scene in which Mrs. Grose and the governess try to understand the relationship between Peter Quinn and Miss Jessel they come accept that they did not have any relationship at all. At that time period women were thought of as ladies only by where they stood in society. They would not associate themselves with anyone less than their social standards. Marxism might say that that was wrong and that if class was put aside that maybe Miss Jessel and Peter Quinn had something to do with each other.

  12.    marissae17 said,

    November 16, 2011 at 11:40 pm

    I agree with what both Emina and AnnMarie had to say about Marxism focusing on social status building a foundation for a society. I especially liked the point the AnnMarie touched on about each of the lenses bringing up change. There is definitely a social status struggle between Mrs. Grose and the governess. The governess feels that she should be of a high power because she is the children’s primary caretaker but Mrs. Grose feels that because she is of a high social standing and of an older age, that she should be the one who is respected in this situation. Also there is not only a power struggle between the governess and Miles, but also a gender issue. Although a direct reaction is to feel that the governess has power over Miles, but in some interactions that they have with each other, there is sort of a give and take feel where the governess is fighting for her hierarchy.

  13.    nadiab said,

    November 16, 2011 at 11:48 pm

    Both bloggers identified the role of social class and status in “The Turn of the Screw” in relation to Marxism. The dialogue between Mrs. Grose and the governess indicated the status of both Peter Quint and Miss. Jessel at Bly. Mrs. Grose’s view on Peter Quint was that he was much below than Miss Jessel. Mrs. Grose’s view on Peter Quint may have indicated that she viewed herself in a better social standing than him. The governess, who viewed herself as a higher role in the mansion, wanted to exceed Mrs. Grose’s view on Miss Jessel. By inquiring about her predecessor Miss Jessel, the governess would be able to improve her role so that she can be of a higher status in the mansion. Though the governess and Miss Jessel were of the same occupation, the governess felt that her status in the house was greater than what Miss Jessel’s was. While the governess is trying to protect the children she is also establishing her position in the home. She wanted to exceed what’s expected of her role as a governess. This would guarantee more power and control at Bly for her. Since the governess has this need to go beyond her role, she is also placing herself in a greater position in society.

  14.    kocampo100 said,

    November 17, 2011 at 12:11 am

    While reading the blogs it is clear that both Emina and Annmarie have valid points and opinions. I agree with them when marxism was compared to the psychonanalytic, feminist and new historicism lens. Since marxists critique with political, economic and cultural understanding these are very comparable to the feminist lens in terms of how women are viewed and portrayed in works as well as the new historicism lens because of how the time period of which the work was written plays a huge role to the critic. It is also important to note that since marxists believe that the social and economic aspects shape our conscious mind and our beliefs, it is easy to find similiarities for marxism and psychoanalysis because of it.
    During the victorian era, there was a strong sense of social standing, a marxist critic would probably have a problem with Miss Jessel and Quint had they been serious. He was beneath her socially. Since social and economic status were everything, their relationship would have been looked down upon. The governess being in love with the master also stirs up problems here, she knows that he only sees her as a mere servant and lower class and so she works harder for the family in order for hiim to look at her differently. Marxism and psychonanalysis can be used for this example due the understanding of economic and social class but also her id taking over, having her irrational wants interefere with actually doing her job for the right reasons.

  15.    emendoza said,

    November 17, 2011 at 12:29 am


    Marxism’s main focus is the structures of social class as well as economic stand. With respect to Bressler’s comment of Marxist criticism about not only what a text says, but what the text also does NOT say, it’s clear that plot of Turn of the Screw is a fine example of this. Marxism shares similarities with New Historicism, the lens which supports delving into the life and times of the author circa the publication of the Text. To understand Turn of the Screw, through a Marxist lens, one would have to understand the societal norms and economical status of James’ life and environment.
    None of our interpretations or viewpoints discussed in class are ever directly laid out so blatantly in the open, whether it be from the narration or from the interactions between the characters. Considering the passage between 57-59, we see this interaction between Mrs Grose and the Governess, in which there seems to be a sort of tension between social classes between the characters. THe Governess curiously questions Mrs. Grose about the implied relationship between Miss Jessel, the former Governess and Peter Quint, the valet. it becomes apparent that Mrs. Grose thought lesser of Peter Quint, and even more so that she believed Quint was “so dreadfully below” (the social status of) the Governess, Miss jessel.

  16.    Terry said,

    November 17, 2011 at 12:44 am

    I agree when Emina points out how the Marxist, Feminist and Psychoanalytic criticisms all look through a passage as opposed to looking at it. These criticisms apply the reading within a context, be it psychology or sociology. The way I see the Marxist approach is sort of like a New Historian with a particular focus on economic factors and social class. Both of these criticism heavily take into account the historical context in which the text was written. However, it appears the Marxist criticism deviates from this norm by viewing literary pieces as a reaction to the society of the time. This can be viewed as a rebellion to the current views and values the society holds, ultimately making the piece progressive and forward-looking. The quote Emina included in her post, ‘Oh of their rank, their condition…she was a lady…And he so dreadfully bellow ” (James 58), really illustrates how social class holds a high importance in much of literature, even if it is not blatantly mentioned.

  17.    cass88163 said,

    November 17, 2011 at 3:16 am

    Marxism as well as New Historicism highlights on aspects of the text that is not directly stated, but help determine a text’s analysis. Marxism primarily focus on social and economic class, where New Historicism gives a accurate picture of the text history. Both of these approach shape the social and cultural foundation behind the text meaning during that time frame. As Emina brought up, many other critical approaches are precise with the analysis coming from with in the text itself, however, with Marxism and New Historicism, allows the reader to dismantle the text by exploring beyond the text. Often factors such as social and economic class are not stated pretense, which are significant components in understanding the meaning of certain text.

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