Literary criticism
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Literary Criticism. Ways to Think About Literature. What is Literary Criticism?. It’s easy… The breakdown of a literary work for any purpose of analysis or discussion There are many ways to do this…. 1. Reader Response. The feeling you get from the literature

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Literary Criticism

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Literary criticism

Literary Criticism

Ways to Think About Literature

What is literary criticism

What is Literary Criticism?

  • It’s easy…

  • The breakdown of a literary work for any purpose of analysis or discussion

  • There are many ways to do this…

1 reader response

1. Reader Response

  • The feeling you get from the literature

  • The impression it leaves on you

  • How it changes/affects you

  • How the elements of literature work to affect your reading experience…

Reader response cont

Reader Response cont...

  • Things that may affect your reading include:

    • Literary elements like…











Always bring it back to how it affects YOU!!!

2 genre criticism

2. Genre Criticism

  • Genre – kind or type of literature

  • When analyzing, ask:

    • What genre is this literature?

    • How does the lit’s genre affect it?

    • Are its genre characteristics well done, poorly done, effective, etc???

Literary criticism

  • The genre of this course is the Novel (duh)

  • Novel- extended prose narrative that focuses on characters in the framework of a plot

  • *There are lots of genres of novels…

Novel genres

Novel Genres…

  • Picaresque- social underdog has humorous adventures and comments on society

  • Historical- uses setting/characters/ situations from history and builds on them

  • Social- depicts how people acted in a certain time period (Novel of Manners)

  • Metaphysical- deals with the “Truth”; usually religion or philosophy

  • Bildungsroman-(German=formation) coming of age, growing up

  • Psychological- deals with the workings of the mind (mental disorders or struggles)

Literary criticism

  • Traditional Romance- ADVENTURE (not love)

    • Modern Romance- sex and love

  • Gothic- deals with supernatural event and dark mood/setting

  • Science Fiction- explores the possibilities of this and other worlds

  • Epistolary- series of letters or diary entries

  • Propaganda- encourages readers to take a certain point of view

  • Utopian/Dystopian- deals with the complications of mankind in the “perfect” (utopian) or “imperfect” (dystopian) world

  • 3 historical biographical criticism

    3. Historical/Biographical Criticism

    • Looks at the literature as a result of the author’s life and times…

    • Ask…

      • Is the author’s biographical info used in the story?

      • Does the author try to portray a certain historical time period or his own time period?

      • How was the literature received by critics when it was published? Today?

    4 psychological criticism

    4. Psychological Criticism

    • Looks at literature through Freud’s psychological theories

      • Most mental processes are subconscious (not done on purpose)

      • All human behavior is motivated by sex

      • We control our desires and instinctive actions because of social pressure to “behave”

      • We repress “taboo” desires, thoughts and memories (keep them from our thoughts)

    Literary criticism

    • Freud identified

      three parts of the human mind…

      • Id

        • The center of all urges and subconscious desires

        • Untamed passions, emotions, needs

        • Pleasure principle = instinctive desires/needs

      • Ego

        • The rational governing agent of the mind

        • Controls your actions to protect the self

        • Reality principle = reason and good sense

      • Superego

        • The other rational governing agent of mind

        • Controls your actions to protect others/society

        • Morality principle = conformity to social rules

    Other psychological principles seen in literature

    Other psychological principles seen in literature…

    • The Oedipus Complex

      • Inappropriate desire for the parent of the opposite sex

  • Parental Rebellion

    • Rebelling against parents (especially the father) to assert individuality/power

  • Phallic Symbols

    • Items in the literature symbolizing the penis – usually to assert power/manhood

  • Oral/Anal Fixations

    • Characters have a need to constantly occupy the mouth (smoke, chew, eat) or are compulsively detail obsessed

  • 5 myth archetype criticism

    5. Myth/Archetype Criticism

    • Myth- every civilization everywhere tells stories (ancient times to today)

    • Archetype- universal symbols in stories that carry the same meanings no matter when or where they are used

      • These can be images, themes, patterns or characters

    Common archetypal images found in literature

    Common Archetypal Images found in literature…

    • Water

      • Creation; birth-death-resurrection; purification

        • The Sea (ocean, lake)- mother of all life; eternity; death-rebirth

        • Rivers (any flowing water)- the life cycle; phases of life; flow of time

    • Sun

      • Creative energy; law in nature; thinking-enlightenment

        • Rising Sun- birth; creation; enlightenment; new beginning

        • Setting Sun- death; destruction; failure; the end

    Archetypal images cont

    Archetypal Images cont…

    • Colors

      • Red- blood; sacrifice; power; violence; disorder

      • Green- growth; hope; fertility; greed; money; innocence

      • Yellow- gold; happiness; optimism

      • Brown- reliability; conservativism

      • Blue- truth; religious feeling; security; purity

      • Black (darkness)- chaos; mystery; unknown, death; evil; sadness

      • White (light)- purity; innocence; goodness OR

        Death; terror; the supernatural; blinding truth (evil so black that it is white)

        Think of pink, gray, purple, and orange as combinations of other colors

    Archetypal images cont1

    Archetypal Images cont…

    • Circle

      • Wholeness; unity; cycle of life; end bringing you back to the beginning

  • Serpent (worm, snake)

    • Energy; force; evil; corruption; sensuality; destruction

  • Numbers

    • 3- light; spiritual awareness; unity; the male

    • 4- circle; life cycle; four seasons; the earth; four elements; the female

    • 5- integration (bringing together); wholeness

    • 6- evil; unknown

    • 7- power; most potent of all numbers; luck; union of 3+4; man+woman

    • 13- unlucky; superstitious

  • Archetypal images cont2

    Archetypal Images cont…

    • Garden

      • Paradise; innocence

  • Tree

    • Inexhaustible life; growth; phases of life

  • Desert

    • Emptiness; death

  • Mountain

    • Striving to attain some goal; inspiration; obstacles to overcome

  • Archetypal characters

    Archetypal Characters

    • Archetypal Hero

      • Goes on a quest, goes through impossible tasks, solves questions to save the “homeland” or others

      • Overcomes ordeals/challenges in order to pass from immaturity into adulthood (or ignorance into knowing)

  • Sacrificial Scapegoat (Christ Figure)

    • Character who must die or be sacrificed so that others can live on

  • Archetypal Women

    • Good Mother- life; birth; warmth; nourishment; protection; fertility (good female character)

    • Terrible Mother- witch; siren; whore; femme fatale; evil; corruption (bad female character)

    • Ingenue- perfection; spirituality; angelic goodness (perfectly innocent, beautiful female character)

  • Archetypal characters cont

    Archetypal Characters cont…

    • Wise Old Man

      • Supporting character; offers hero knowledge, insight, wisdom, good will, help

  • Trickster

    • Supporting character

      • Antagonist- evil, ill-will, causes problems for hero

      • Jokester- clown, fool, causes harmless pranks on hero or others for the sake of humor; can still help

  • Why did i bother writing this down

    Why did I bother writing this down?

    • Good question…

    • Because you will absolutely, positively use it throughout the entire semester…

    • Really.

    • Keep it and bring it to class everyday.

    Literary criticism



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