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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

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???
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)
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)
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.