Monday, September 8, 2014

Melodrama in Communist Manifesto

It is quite evident that Marx in Communist Manifesto uses many of the melodramatic techniques that Singer talks about in his article Melodrama and the Consequences of Capitalism. Three of the most obvious techniques of melodrama that jumped out to me as a reader was the idea of good vs., evil, a constant sense of anxiety created through though the use of rhetorical speech, and a sense of relatability when it came to the proletariat reader.
“Melodrama, in short, was as the center a culture war, one that essentially was also a class conflict” (Singer, 12). Just as Singer wisely points out, Marx too makes a distinction between classes, claiming that the “modern bourgeois society that has sprouted from the ruins of feudal society has not done away with class antagonisms” (15). In Singer’s text on melodrama he emphasizes the importance of categorizations of villainy and victimhood, claiming that this idea gave hope to those that were virtuous. In Communist Manifesto, Marx victimizes the proletariat, calling them, “a class of laborers who live only so long as they find work,” while turning the bourgeois class into the so called bad guys, or evil ones (18).
In addition to his use of good vs. evil, Marx also implies a constant sense of anxiety within his reader. As Brooks, mentioned in Singers text, says, “melodrama starts from and expresses the anxiety brought by a frightening new world.” Marx mentions how the, “bourgeois developed, increased its capital and pushed into the background every class handed down from the Middle Ages” (17). Throughout Communist Manifesto Marx mentions how the rise of this new class is a threat to all, and how the modern bourgeois society, “is like a sorcerer who is no longer able to control the powers of the nether world….” (Marx, 17). Marx instills a fear in his reader that if this new threat is not controlled, then the proletariat will remain the, “slaves of the bourgeois class” (19).

Lastly, Marx does a great job of making his text relatable to his reader. As Walkowitz mentions in Singer’s text, Melodrama should be an, “appropriate genre for working class audiences, evoking the instability and vulnerability of their life” (4). While I think that this concept is definitely similar to the sense of anxiety that Marx instills, it still doesn’t go unnoticed that this text is truly made to appeal to the proletariat. As Singer says, melodrama is supposed to give people, “the will to believe,” and while Marx sometimes does make it seem as though the proletariat is, for a lack of a better word, kind of screwed, he also does give them hope that good will eventually triumph (5).

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