Tuesday, September 9, 2014

The Melodramatic Manifesto

There are many characteristics of melodrama that are evident in Marx and Engel's The Communist Manifesto. One of the more obvious ones, that many peers wrote about, was the idea of "good versus evil." I guess it has become extremely popular in melodramatic pieces, but in a way that is also very overplayed. Since so many of my peers have mentioned that, and everything that could be said has already been said, I will refrain from using that example. There are other characteristics of melodrama that are also very evident in The Communist Manifesto, such as contradiction and creating characters or scenarios that the readers can relate to.

Singer touched on contradiction in melodrama in his text, saying that “on the one hand, melodrama portrayed the individual’s powerlessness within the harsh and unpredictable material life of modern capitalism; on the other, it served a quasi religious ameliorative function in reassuring audiences that a high cosmic force still looked down on the world and governed it with an ultimately just hand” (pg. 5). From the reading of The Communist Manifesto, it first seems as though Marx and Engel are against the bourgeoisie, which, according to them, "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”." They also say that "it has converted the physician, the lawyer, the priest, the poet, the man of science, into its paid wage labourers." At first it may seem like they are slightly bitter towards the bourgeoisie, but the tone changes (it contradicts itself), and Marx and Engel start writing as though they admire what the bourgeoisie does, "constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society." Even though they work their laborers hard and do it for the money/wealth, they know how to "draw all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilisation." The bourgeoisie makes the proletarians feel powerless and exploit them, however, they are also governing them "with an ultimately just hand," meaning that, they are doing what they believe is best for everyone.

Marx and Engel also do a good job of writing so that readers can relate to what they are saying. I feel as though it is appealing towards the proletarian, but they aren't trying to put down the bourgeoisie. I feel as though they obviously understand the problems of the proletarian, having to work hard, being exploited, being basically the bottom of the social ladder, but they are trying to make them understand that they need the bourgeoisie for their society to progress and improve. To me, the message they were sending across was a lot like, "I know it hurts now, but it'll get better." And everyone can relate to that. Everyone has someone in a higher level position they don't always like or get along well with, but in the end, that person is only looking out for everyone. If the proletarians don't work hard or don't succeed, neither do the bourgeoisie nor the community as a whole. Someone has to do the dirty work, but Marx and Engel try to make the proletarians feel better about it by saying that the foundation of everything the bourgeoisie builds upon came from them.

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