From the beginning, understanding a Marxist Critique was a tough. We read a source by the philosopher Althusser and explored his views of Idealogical State Apparatuses. His ideas definitely had to be understood before I could go any further with my essay drafts. When we went over Althusser’s theories in class, the discussion helped me to better understand the concept of ISAs structuring society. I took extensive notes about our discussion which helped me organize my understanding of Ideological State Apparatuses as Althusser described them. By doing this, I was able to choose the ISA of religion to analyze in the play, Hamlet.
I thought this was a good choice because I found many scenes where the actions of the characters reflected their beliefs in God and the church. This showed that they were under the influence of Religion. My Draft 1 was submitted for peer review with an almost solid example of Hamlet and Claudius in church and an incomplete example of Ophelia’s burial. My feedback included that I could use more detail and close reading to really show that the characters were repressed by this ISA. Because in my first draft I had a solid idea of Hamlet and Claudius’s reaction to religion, I had to really look into the acts of the play where Ophelia’s burial was happening Act 5, scene 1, to find the evidence that the ISA of religion was acting on the grave diggers. Many of my peers were handling multiple ISAs in their essay because there are many other ISAs evident in Hamlet. I did consider bringing more in to add complexity, but I decided against it because in past essays I had found the more focused my claim, the better.
In the end I submitted Draft 2 which a much better understanding of Althusser’s ideas, but as I found out later, I did not depict my understand as well as I’d hoped which led me to revises this draft again for my presentation portfolio. This was a challenging essay to write, but I do see Althusser’s ideas all around me in the real world and by being introduced to his work, I was able to write about the way different ideologies for another class’s paper.
After completing this essay, I realized I had to look deeper into Althusser’s work to see what he really meant by an ideology and the way it acts to structure society. To see my fine tuned final draft, check out Religious Repression of Reality in my presentation portfolio.