Martin Eden


Jack London, prestigious author of Martin Eden writes his opinions into
his work. Aspects of different societies are prevalent throughout his
work and the class struggle between different classes of characters is
apparent in his writing. Although not an autobiography much of his
writing can appear to include his personal views on life. Martin Eden,
the protagonist created by London begins as a petty seaman works his
his way to the upper class of society. Through self-determination and
self-education he is able to become a member of the bourgeois. Writers
with styles similar to London in that they all write in the same style
in that shows the struggle of the poor and their climb to the upper
class only to see that it reveals a faux ideal. Alice Hoffman author of
Here On Earth appears to hold many of the same beliefs as Martin which
are seen throughout her novel.

Martin Eden was forced to make his own living. Eden was never
given anything and had to work to gain everything he wanted.
Everyday struggles included finding the simple necessities of
food and shelter. As a poor sailor, Eden looked around and saw
the ideals of the bourgeois. Through the eyes of Eden the
Bourgeois were the educated, wealthy, and were what Martin
desired to become. He dreams of becoming educated and belonging
to the upper class; ultimately he finds one small connection
that opens up a new world to the once struggling seaman.
Although later disproved, his first impressions of this class
were seen from an outsider^s view as perfect. ^Here was
intellectual life, he thought, and here was beauty, warm and
wonderful as he had never dreamed it could be.^ (p. 40) Martin
comes into contact with a family that introduces him to this
new world. The Morse family was all Martin dreamed of, he
viewed them, as them part of a perfect society and Ruth was the
focal point of it.! Ruth was heavenly like a flower; her
culture and sophistication stimulated him.

Introduction to this new class surprised Martin. The library, a
new idea to him, becomes his new haven. Although he lacked both
the time and money necessary for a traditional education
between sailing he began his way to self-education. In the
beginning Martin was separated from Ruth because of their class
difference, but as this yearning for education developed he and
Ruth become involved. ^He wasn^t of their tribe, and he
couldn^t talk their lingo was the way he put it to himself. He
couldn^t fake being their kind.^ (p. 51) Although he wasn^t
born any with any of these ^privileges^ he made it his business
to strive to fulfil what he thought was the better society.
Through his studying he soon developed a love for writing and
although he was still a sailor he continued to develop a
passion for something new to his mind. Discovering the world of
writing and literature he was able to take himself places he
had never dreamed he would be. His climb to the upper class
was a big struggle for him in his life. Martin^s first attempt
at becoming a part of the society was a failure. At first his
etiquette wasn^t good enough and he was too opinionated and
looked down upon by guests of the Morses^. Martin^s writing
transcends him into a new person. Martin^s transformation
allows him to understand that things are not cracked up to what
they appear to be. When he achieves opulence, Martin feels as
if he is still not accepted as a true member of the elite. He
believes that he is still the same Martin Eden, his fame has
only changed his image not his character. ^Martin bethought
himself of the numerous occasions on which he had met Judge Blount at
the Morses^ and when Judge Blount had not invited him to dinner. Why
had he not invited him to dinner than? He asked himself. He had not
changed. He was the same Martin Eden. What made the difference?^ (p.
437) The truth of the upper class is revealed once Martin becomes
accepted as one of them. Martin becomes disgusted and as he was once
looked down upon, he begins to look down upon the members of the ^upper

Throughout literature this common rejection can be found. In
Alice Hoffman^s, Here On Earth Hollis is similar to Martin
Eden. This is the same rejection that Hollis experiences at the
hands of Hank and their eronics. The age-old argument of new
money vs. old money is a central theme throughout literature.
At one point another prominent author, F. Scott Fitzgerald
remarked to Ernest Hemingway, ^the rich are different from you
and me.^ As Hollis and Martin Eden are to the respective rich,
they can never be truly accepted into the bourgeois society.
Hover, their dedication to assuming the identity of the rich
causes them misery and sorrow and eventually leads to a tragic
death. Martin Eden^s perseverance and hard work were both a let
down and a pickup it was a double-edged sword. His laboring
leads to his eventual success and his emotional downfall.
London explores a key question; Is it worth the trouble to gain
prestige and wealth but to lose your livelihood? Through Martin
Eden London explores the struggle between classes. Specifically
London explains the yearning of the poor to be rich and the
steadfastness of the rich to be unacceptant of the ^nouvelle
rich.^ This struggle is apparent as barriers continue to exist
in the struggle between classes.

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