Fairytales have existed for thousands of years. Originally unwritten, spoken stories often made for children. They survived through oral tradition, and stories such as Beauty and the Beast and Rumpelstiltskin date back to some 6,000 years ago (BBC news). The focal text selected for the transformation task was The Elves and the Shoemaker, written by Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. The tale tells the story of a poor shoemaker who receives help from a pair of benevolent elves. The world-centred theory that was chosen for this task was Marxist theory. The invited reading of the text was examined, and a new reading was created. The transformation was analysed through theoretical reasonings, and challenges encountered during the transformation process are investigated. Other aspects of this task incorporated in this analysis include: binary oppositions, signs and signifiers, gaps and silences, and genre.
Karl Marx was a ‘philosopher, social scientist, historian and revolutionary’ (the history guide). His main economic theory was that of the struggles between the social classes during his time, focussing on the struggle between the upper class, which he labelled as the ‘bourgeoise’, and the lower, working class, the ‘proletariat’. A summating quote from Marx himself describes the attitude he expressed.
“The worker becomes all the poorer the more wealth he produces, the more his production increases in power and range. The worker becomes an ever cheaper commodity the more commodities he creates. With the increasing value of the world of things proceeds in direct proportion to the devaluation of the world of men. Labour produces not only commodities; it produces itself and the worker as a commodity — and does so in the proportion in which it produces commodities generally.”
– Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophic Manuscripts (1844)
Marx has also recognised that ‘the ruling class in every society owns or controls its capital, or the means of production’, with the ruling class being the bourgeoise (alpha history). In Marxist theory, the bourgeoisie own all of the land and means of production, along with their dominance within the government, therefore the proletariat is thought to be completely subject to the bourgeoisie. Marxism is based on the theory that every class is trying to improve their standing in society, and this creates the class struggle that Marx was attempting to improve when he wrote his works. ‘In his view, those groups of people who owned and controlled major industries could exploit the rest of the population, first through conditions of employment, and second by forcing their own values and beliefs onto other social groups’ (Moon).
Introduce Marxist theory- economic theory, in this case we’re using a Marxist lens when reading a fictional text.Social classes and the means of production.
Application to literature
back up statements with quotes from theorists.
Define invited reading Quote Greer here.
Describe the invited reading of the story
Elves seen just as little people that run around and help people but never get anything for their troubles
Moral: to repay people who help you out
Your reading of text (refer to Pope here to explain how you subverted this text. Ie what you decided to retain from the focal text and what details you discarded as irrelevant. What you chose to intensify or focus upon. Ie the shoemaker in the focal text still has power over the workers because of their size which mad them weak. In your subverted txt, you leveled the power base to be equal.
Wanted to change this to a modern situation reflecting how the social classes are in an ideal standing with each other
so that it was an ongoing partnership, not a one-off transaction
deconstructing the hero – the shoemaker
Pg 1 hourihan, male, overcoming opponents, receiving assistance (elves)
The narrative makes it ‘his story’ pg 38
Third-person narrative, ‘influences the responses of the reader’
Pg 41 opponents, qualities
Pg 46 story takes the form of a journey
Transformation Analysis (Textual Intervention)
Why did I do what I did? Theoretical underpinnings to back up my actions. – you fiddled with setting, era, character, plot, symbols, narrator, moral, purpose, sequence….
The shoemaker Little
The shoemaker Naked dwarfs
Signs and Signifiers
power, size, success
Gaps and Silences
What happened to the elves afterward?
What were the elves doing before they helped the shoemaker?
In the transformation, the ‘elves’ (the workers) remain working alongside the shoemaker
The elves don’t have any say in the original story, but the shoemaker quotes them in his summary of the business – “the staff have told me”
Changed from a fairytale, told from a narrator’s perspective- happy ever after
To an article describing an award-winning business on a website for a business magazine- implies fact, real, authenticity, proven by data- work/profit figures.
Helps in reinforcing the Marxist aspect of the text
what you learned from this task.