Literature is allowed to expand across class lines because it is constantly seeking out new forms of expressing the human experience. Even the most elite of the bourgeoisie are allowed to enjoy the latest experimental or ethnic literature, which serve as pure representations of the proletariat human experience, "it is common to see 'literature' defined as 'full, central, immediate human experience,' usually an associated reference to 'minute particulars,'" (Williams 45). These "minute particulars" are what make literature so interesting and entertaining, thus successful. It is with this understanding of literature as an ideology that the concept of ideology can take on duel roles, "A common culture is thus entirely compatible with a hierarchical one," (Eagleton The Idea of Culture 115). Much unlike the theories which state that a true ideology cannot live up to a duel existence, literature as an ideology proves to do just that.
It is in this concept that literature proves a successful and uniting ideology which can prove beneficial to adopt on a larger basis. It represents the process of literary production from a multi-faceted viewpoint of both bourgeoisie and proletariat. Because it is progressive, it can therefore cover more universal concepts and representations, "the ideological process -- the production of meanings and ideas -- is then seen as general and universal, and ideology is either this process itself or the area of its study," (Williams 55). Raymond Williams makes significant progress in the promotion of literature as a successful ideology in his work Marxism and Literature. In this, he describes ideology as a social process which helps to unite the varying conceptions of the human experience. We understand out lives through consciousness of them, and therefore literature becomes a method of transcribing that consciousness into a flexible and workable ideology that transcends class borders, "consciousness and its products' are always, though in variable forms, parts of the material social process itself," (Williams 61). Thus, creating an ideology out of the similar, yet also incredibly diverse consciousnesses we share can then apply to all classes, races, and nations.
Another proponent of literature as a successful ideology is Terry Eagleton, who posits the idea that if adopted by the wider culture, literature will prove to help ease the strain of tensions faced by individuals all over the globe. He believes that "As a liberal, 'humanizing' pursuit, [literature] could provide a potent antidote to political bigotry an ideological extremism," (Eagleton "The Rise of The English" 2243). After analyzing the strong connection literature shares with the universal tradition of language within the human experience, it is understandable to see literature as a successful ideological implementation to help ease tensions created by ideologies which keep social classes separate. Literature allows us to express our differences, which are what it as a successful ideology rests on. Eagleton states in his work "The Rise of The English" that:
Since literature, as we know, deals in universal human values rather than in such
historical trivia as civil wars, the oppression of women or the dispossession of the English peasantry, it could serve to place in cosmic perspective the petty demands of working people for decent living conditions or greater control over their own lives, and might even with luck come to render them oblivious of such issues in their high-minded contemplation of eternal truths and beauties, (Eagleton "The
Rise of The English 2243).
And so, literature provides hope as an ideology, that one day all classes will be allowed to cherish their individuality and cultures within the larger shared human experience. It presents the potential for us to redeem our inevitable class structure, not with a violent overthrow, but with acceptance of our differences and the allowance for other shared experiences to be hard that go far beyond the call of the elitist bourgeoisie.
Literature helps express who we are as a people, as a culture, and as a class. It extends no limits on the method of expression, or how the experience is to be interpreted. It has great complexity in this simplicity. Through the universal nature of language, which it stems, literature is allowed to extend itself as an ideology beyond class divisions which had kept ideologies separated previously. It is a process produced by both the bourgeoisie, and now with the spread of literacy to great lengths -- the proletariat as well. It entertains, shocks, saddens, and soothes the human soul, no matter what class or nationality. Literature encompasses the conscious of the human experience, one which can not be limited to an elite few. The human experience is shared by all, it is infinitely different, yet universally the same. With it comes a culture which both divides and unites. As T.S. Eliot once said, "Culture may even be described simply as that which makes life worth living," (Eagleton 112).
Bawden, Garth. "Symbols of Power." The Moche. Wiley. 1996.
Eagleton, Terry. The Idea of Culture. Blackwell Publishing. 2000.
Eagleton, Terry. "The Rise of the English." Norton Anthology of Literature. PUT EXACT PUBLICATION INFO HERE
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