- Social / political context
- Religious / philosophical context
- Literary context
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A working definition
Marxist critical theory grew out of the philosophy of Marxism. It seeks to understand a novel's presentation of the classes and their relationship to one another. It identifies what attitudes to class are promoted through the writing and whether they challenge or support the common attitudes of the day.
A Marxist reading of Persuasion
A Marxist reading of Persuasion would point out Jane Austen's focus on the landed gentry and her exclusion of the details of the lives of the servants who pass in and out of the novel. This particular segment of the lower classes appears frequently in the novel and the servants' work is obviously important to the smooth running of the homes featured.
Although Jane Austen sympathised with the plight of the poor, she did not write about them in a way that would help close the widening gap between the rich and poor or challenge the social order.
For further discussion of Jane Austen's treatment of class in Persuasion see Social / political context
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