Monday, January 20, 2014

Melodrama in the Communist Manifesto

The Communist Manifesto is a political piece that uses melodramatic words and phrases throughout. Essentially, the manifesto thrives on the idea that the bourgeois and proletarians are opposites; they are pitted against each other from the first section. The bourgeois are labeled the villains, creating new class struggles and distancing themselves even further economically from the proletarians, portrayed as the worker-victims. The first section shows this clearly in the following passage:

      "The bourgeoisie, wherever it has got the upper hand, has put an end to all feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations. It has pitilessly torn asunder the motley feudal ties that bound man to his "natural superiors", and has left remaining no other nexus between man and man than naked self-interest than callous "cash payment." It has drowned the most heavenly ecstasies of religious fervour, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egotistical calculation. It has resolved personal worth into exchange value, and in place of the numberless indefeasible chartered freedoms, has set up that single, unconscionable freedom - Free Trade. In one word, for exploitation, veiled by religious and political illusions, it has substituted naked, shameless, direct, brutal exploitation.
      The bourgeoisie has stripped of its halo every occupation hitherto honoured and looked up to with reverent awe. It has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers.
     The bourgeoisie has torn away from the family its sentimental veil, and has reduced the family relation to a mere money relation."

This is clearly an extremely melodramatic passage. The bourgeois are shown as these hallow, devious, awful people. They are shown as the villains in that they take advantage whenever they have the "upper hand." They exploit the proletarians which makes them these poor victim heroes. The communist idea throughout of decreasing and ultimately eliminating the elite can be seen as somewhat of a melodramatic ideal. The Communist Manifesto holds melodramatic thought and rhetoric in all sections but this is one clear example. This part goes on for paragraphs and delineates the gap between the two which reminded me of our in class discussion of the dark villains and the victim heroes like in Harry Potter.

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