Psychoanalytic criticism adopts the methods of "reading" employed by Freud and later theorists to interpret what a text really indicates. It argues that "unresolved and sometimes unconscious ambivalences in the author's own life may lead to a disunified literary work," and that the literary work is a manifestation of the author's own neuroses. Psychoanalytic critics focus on apparent dilemmas and conflicts in a work and "attempt to read an author's own family life and traumas into the actions of their characters," realizing that the psychological material will be expressed indirectly, encoded (similar to dreams) through principles such as "condensation," "displacement," and "symbolism."
Feminist criticism critiques patriarchal language and literature by exposing how a work reflects masculine ideology. It examines gender politics in works and traces the subtle construction of masculinity and femininity, and their relative status, positionings, and marginalizations within works.
Marxist criticism argues that literature reflects social institutions and that it is one itself, with a particular ideological function: that literature participates in the series of struggles between oppressed and oppressing classes which makes up human history. Similar to Marx's historical theory, Marxist criticism will focus on the distribution of resources, materialism, class conflict, or the author's analysis of class relations. It examines how some works attempt to shore up an oppressive social order or how they idealize social conflict out of existence, how others offer an alternative collective life or propose a utopian vision as a solution.