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Literary Criticism Ways to Think About Literature.

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Presentation on theme: "Literary Criticism Ways to Think About Literature."— Presentation transcript:

1 Literary Criticism Ways to Think About Literature

2 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…

3 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…

4 Reader Response cont... Things that may affect your reading include: –Literary elements like… Plot Setting Characterization Structure Style Atmosphere Tone Mood Theme Remember: Always bring it back to how it affects YOU!!!

5 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???

6 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…

7 Novel Genres… A.Picaresque- social underdog has humorous adventures and comments on society B.Historical- uses setting/characters/ situations from history and builds on them C.Social- depicts how people acted in a certain time period (Novel of Manners) D.Metaphysical- deals with the “Truth”; usually religion or philosophy E.Bildungsroman- (German=formation) coming of age, growing up F.Psychological- deals with the workings of the mind (mental disorders or struggles)

8 G.Traditional Romance- ADVENTURE (not love) Modern Romance- sex and love H.Gothic- deals with supernatural event and dark mood/setting I.Science Fiction- explores the possibilities of this and other worlds J.Epistolary- series of letters or diary entries K.Propaganda- encourages readers to take a certain point of view L.Utopian/Dystopian- deals with the complications of mankind in the “perfect” (utopian) or “imperfect” (dystopian) world

9 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?

10 4. Psychological Criticism Looks at literature through Freud’s psychological theories A.Most mental processes are subconscious (not done on purpose) B.All human behavior is motivated by sex C.We control our desires and instinctive actions because of social pressure to “behave” D.We repress “taboo” desires, thoughts and memories (keep them from our thoughts)

11 Freud identified three parts of the human mind… A.Id The center of all urges and subconscious desires Untamed passions, emotions, needs Pleasure principle = instinctive desires/needs B.Ego The rational governing agent of the mind Controls your actions to protect the self Reality principle = reason and good sense C.Superego The other rational governing agent of mind Controls your actions to protect others/society Morality principle = conformity to social rules

12 Other psychological principles seen in literature… A.The Oedipus Complex Inappropriate desire for the parent of the opposite sex B.Parental Rebellion Rebelling against parents (especially the father) to assert individuality/power C.Phallic Symbols Items in the literature symbolizing the penis – usually to assert power/manhood D.Oral/Anal Fixations Characters have a need to constantly occupy the mouth (smoke, chew, eat) or are compulsively detail obsessed

13 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

14 Common Archetypal Images found in literature… A.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 B.Sun Creative energy; law in nature; thinking- enlightenment Rising Sun- birth; creation; enlightenment; new beginning Setting Sun- death; destruction; failure; the end

15 Archetypal Images cont… C.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

16 Archetypal Images cont… D.Circle Wholeness; unity; cycle of life; end bringing you back to the beginning E.Serpent (worm, snake) Energy; force; evil; corruption; sensuality; destruction F.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

17 Archetypal Images cont… G.Garden Paradise; innocence H.Tree Inexhaustible life; growth; phases of life I.Desert Emptiness; death J.Mountain Striving to attain some goal; inspiration; obstacles to overcome

18 Archetypal Characters A.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) B.Sacrificial Scapegoat (Christ Figure) Character who must die or be sacrificed so that others can live on C.Archetypal Women 1.Good Mother- life; birth; warmth; nourishment; protection; fertility (good female character) 2.Terrible Mother- witch; siren; whore; femme fatale; evil; corruption (bad female character) 3.Ingenue- perfection; spirituality; angelic goodness (perfectly innocent, beautiful female character)

19 Archetypal Characters cont… D.Wise Old Man Supporting character; offers hero knowledge, insight, wisdom, good will, help E.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

20 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.

21 The End!

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