Choice A When looking at literature through the lens of Marxist Theory, it is not just art to be passively appreciated; it is a product of the socioeconomic and ideological conditions of the time, even if the author did not intend for it to be. Because the writing is a reflection of the reality of the time in which it was written, Marxist critics examine the literary work to see if it either a) reinforces the ideologies it embodies (i.e. capitalism is great), or b) invites the reader to criticize the ideologies it represents.
What does Steinbeck do with his novel, Of Mice and Men? Does he reinforce the idea of capitalism, or is this a criticism of it? In what way(s) does he either reinforce or criticize this ideology?
Choice B: New Historical critics believe that literary texts are cultural artifacts that can tell us something about the belief systems and about the power struggles operating in the time and place in which the text was written. They can do this because the literary texts themselves are part of history. They shape and are shaped by their historical contexts. What does Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men suggest about the experience of groups of people who have been ignored, under-represented, or misrepresented by traditional history?
Choice C: Broadly defined, feminist criticism examines the ways in which literature (and other cultural productions) reinforces or undermines the economic, political, social, and psychological oppression of women. We live in a patriarchal society. Patriarchy is defined as any culture that privileges men by promoting traditional gender roles. Looking through a Feminist Theory lens, discuss the following questions about Of Mice and Men:
How are women portrayed?
Does the work reinforce or resist patriarchal ideology?
How does the work define masculinity and femininity? Does the work seem to accept or to reject the traditional idea of gender?