It Has Been Argued That "Trainspotting" By Irvine Welsh Is A Critique Of Materialism In Western Society. Do You Agree?

2334 words - 9 pages

Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels believed that Capitalist society, which is based on the right of each individual to own private property, is the cause of the main class divides evident in today's society. That the basic right to own property results in the ruling class, the bourgeoisie, becoming obsessed with the accumulation of possessions and, as a consequence, becoming slaves to commodities; Commodity fetishism. This resulted, they argued, in the widening of class divisions. Capitalist society is described by some as protecting freedom and individuality. However, it also, undeniably, encourages self-interest, greed and - as Marx argued - an obsession with private property. It is a society whose basis lies in the fundamental need to accumulate property. The people within this society who do not have the means to amass material possessions are pitied, considered the underclass. They are seen to be lacking in something, incomplete, and are encouraged to 'make something' of themselves. To acquire qualifications, a job that pays well, to set themselves up so that they too can begin to accumulate material goods. This, society argues, is what everyone should strive for.It has been said that Irvine Welsh's Trainspotting is a critique of both excess, and the culture of, materialism. The characters in Trainspotting are drug users and have alienated themselves from society. However, is this a rejection of materialistic society or is it a result of their exclusion from society, and their inability to 'succeed' due to their social class?Trainspotting is a poignant story told with a certain rawness and harsh resignation that exposes the reality of the ruthless world in which the characters of the novel are born into. They are working class and, it can be argued, the very name of their school, birthplace, accent and mannerisms are all indicators of the fact that they will remain working class for the rest of their lives:"The kid's name wis doon fir H.M.Prison Saughton when it was still in June's womb, as sure as the foetus of a rich bastard is Eton-bound"The novel is constructed through a web of dislocated tales of all the characters, which is gradually pieced together throughout the course of the book. Each character's social situation is bleak; surrounded by violence, poverty or death. The heroin they use can be read as a form of escapism from the desolation that surrounds them, a way of escaping grim reality. However, is this merely a rejection of poverty or does Welsh suggest that this is also a rejection of materialism, of capitalist society?The characters of the novel do not work; they deceive the government by fiddling as much money as they can from the Welfare to fund their heroin addictions. The sort of people that the government might describe as a 'drain on society'. Yet is there justification for this? The sociological approach suggests that the proletariat is always told that to work hard is to achieve, but that this is a lie. Marx believed that...

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