As we neared the Marxist and New Historicist unit, I knew that I was going to have a difficult time with this paper. I was not familiar with Foucault or Althusser in any sense. I knew I needed to grasp their concepts and ideas before I would be able to elaborate on their concepts and connect them to my own.
Within my essay, I decided to write on the ideologies of religion. I chose this route because I found Althusser’s ideas on an ideology to be particularly interesting. Within his article, “Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,” he explains that he has two theories that must come together in order for something to make up an ideology.
His theories are as follows:
“ideology is a ‘representation’ of the imaginary relationship of individuals to their real conditions of existence” (Althusser 1498)
This means that an ideology is merely an idea. It does not hold a physical form but has things that represent that idea as a whole.
“ideology has a material existence” (Althusser 1500)
Here, Althusser is stating that an ideology must have a physical presence or things that physically represent that ideology.
As I continued to attempt to grasp these concepts, it became clear to me that religion is an ideology. This is proven so because religion:
- Is an idea that is shared amongst billions of people on this earth.
- Has many physical representations such as the cross or the church itself.
After having understood this connection from Althusser’s theories and religion as an ideology, I was able to form a thesis and start my essay. The peer review as well as this feedback given to me by my professor, I began the process of finalizing my essay on a social critique as seen in Hamlet.