Monday, September 8, 2014

The Melodramatic Villain (Revised)

The typical villain of melodrama ruthlessly chases and abuses the virtuous protagonist. The villains of melodrama are rather imposing, since they must have a sphere of influence and power strong enough to allow them the resources they need to discourage the protagonist accordingly. In Singer's piece, he uses The Woman in Gray to demonstrate this. The two villains in that particular plot line are Gordon, who has enough money to hire a henchman to go after Ruth, and Hunter, who has the abilities and intelligence to track Ruth down via her boyfriend, Tom. These same characteristics of the villain are used by Marx and Engel in the dramatic writing of The Communist Manifesto.

The language of this famous political work is inherently melodramatic. The tone when talking about the bourgeoisie -- the assumed villain -- is accusatory and exaggerated, "The bourgeoisie...draws all, even the most barbarian, nations into civilization [...] It compels all nations, on pain of extinction, to adopt the bourgeois mode of production; it compels them to introduce what it calls civilization into their midst, i.e., to become bourgeois themselves. In one word, it creates a world after its own image." (Marx 16). According to Marx, the class began inferior to the aristocrats but grew frighteningly quickly, with a speed that is intense and consuming as they work their way into every crevice of society. He is almost reverent of the accomplishments of the group; each paragraph begins with the repetitive "The bourgeoisie," recounting every milestone since the societal class "put and end to feudal, patriarchal, idyllic relations" (Marx 15). They displaced the feudal class, whose power lied in inherited land, with earned money. But within this lengthy praise Marx quietly wonders of the workers that the bourgeoisie exploits, "Modern Industry has converted the little workshop of the patriarchal master into the great factory of the industrial capitalist. Masses of laborers, crowded into the factory, are organized like soldiers" (Marx 18). To the bourgeoisie these laborers are no longer people, they are objects of money; their entire being is put in terms of financial gain or loss. The previous lauding now becomes is also somewhat unsettling, as the reader begins to question who Marx is addressing. He could very much be subtlety rallying these abused workers--the proletariats--against the bourgeoisie, and the list of praise now becomes a list of atrocities. Thus, the power in which the bourgeoisie uses to relentlessly work the proletariats towards their personal gain parallels with the the harsh actions of the melodramatic villain against the melodramatic hero.

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