Monday, September 8, 2014

The Melodramatic Nature of the Communist Manifesto (revised)

While reading Singer's "Melodrama and the Consequences of Capitalism" and keeping in mind "Harry Potter...", I saw two important parallels that applied to Marx and Engel's Communist Manifesto.

For one, the working class is emphasized as somewhat of a victimized hero. Singer highlights "in classical melodrama, protagonists are unable to stop villainy through their own actions... By maintaining the protagonists' dramatic powerlessness, melodrama was able to function as a parable of modern anxiety" (137). Throughout the entirety of the Harry Potter series, Harry is constantly thrown into situations in which he can't control villainy on his own, and must use the help of others to destroy whatever evil is at his doorstep, most often in the form of Lord Voldemort. He also is constantly the victimized hero, the one who must overcome all obstacles to be who he has been predetermined to be. Marx and Engel's Communist Manifesto parallels this and highlights the misunderstood hero of the proletariat, or working class, that has suffered injustices and has not been given enough opportunities or liberties to survive in our capitalist culture. Marx and Engel dichotomize good and evil in the forms of the proletariat and the bourgeoisie (even though Marx does praise the bourgeoisie for overthrowing feudalism), which are clearly seen in other examples of melodrama. In brief words, one of the ways that the Communist Manifesto is melodramatic is that it highlights an underprivileged hero that is struggling for success to overcome its evil counterpart.

One other way in which the Communist Manifesto is melodramatic is in its rhetoric. "A spectre is haunting Europe - the spectre of communism. All the powers of old Europe have entered into a holy alliance to exorcise this spectre: Pope and Tsar, Metternich and Guizot, French Radicals and German police-spies" (Marx and Engels, preamble). This is the first statement of the Communist Manifesto, and its rhetoric is melodramatic to the extreme, describing communism as a "spectre" that "haunts" Europe. While Communism is not literally a "spectre" that "haunts", Marx and Engels use particular rhetoric that captures the reader and rallies them to join their cause by using melodramatic language. Especially since this is the first sentence in the manifesto, I know I was immediately captured by the strong, detail-rich rhetoric. Harry Potter is also melodramatic in its rhetoric, which can be seen in my last blog post. The moral dichotomy and spectacle that is seen in basic elements of melodrama (Singer, 131), is seen clearly in this first statement of the manifesto.

One final idea I would like to address is what Laura pointed out in her post about the idea of fate playing into the Manifesto. She discusses how Marx emphasized his desire for the proletariat to overthrow the social hierarchy that currently exists to build up their own struggling working class, while Singer argues that the individual hero will forever be struggling and at the hand of the villain. I think she's right. However, I also think it's interesting that Laura phrases the proletariat as "the little guys". Metaphorically speaking, the proletariat are the "little guys", but in fact, the working class is the biggest class in the social structure. However, they are considered the weakest in that the have the last amount of power... But definitely the most potential. This is also seen in Harry Potter, as Harry has considerably less power than Voldemort, but has the most potential to succeed due to the love that exists in his life. Both works emphasize overcoming tremendous barriers while being the "little guys"/underdogs that are able to use their own strength (as well as the strength of others) to band together, unite, and triumph.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments are restricted to course members only.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.