What is Literary Criticism? Literary criticism or literary analysis

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What is Literary Criticism?literary criticism, definition, types, examples

Literary criticism or literary analysis can be defined as,

An informed analysis and evaluation of a piece of literature”.


A written study, evaluation and interpretation of a work of literature”.

The literary criticism is a concept, formed on the basis of critical analysis and primarily estimates the value and merit of literary works for the presence or quality of certain parameters of literary characteristics.

Literary Analysis on the Basis of Literary Theory

The literary theory is a boarder concept incorporating various strict senses and merits for the systematic study of the nature of literature and provides a complete set of methods for analyzing literature.

Types of Literary Criticism Literacy criticism includes various techniques of literature analysis which are widely used for critical essay writing and drafting analysis for texts and materials against specific merits of evaluation.

Objective Analysis

An objective analysis uses the technique of independently investigating a particular subject matter with reference to the existing facts, figures, events and background information.

An objective analysis can also be referred to as statistical interpolation, objective mapping, or systematic probing into a subject and is completely devoid of personal feelings and viewpoint.

Facts and Statistics

Traditional Criticism

The traditional criticism approach examines you examine how the author’s life, his/her biographical information, contemporary times and effect of his life circumstances on his inspiration and their reflection in his works.

This technique is commonly used in general surveys of English literature. It includes a general analysis of the writers as opposed to a detailed analysis of their individual works.

Author’s life influencing the work

New Criticism

The new criticism approach is mostly used in poetry analysis and evaluates elements like diction, imagery, stanza structure, verse form, meanings, particularly and complexities of meaning.

This form of critical analysis refrains from analyzing the biographical and historical context of a poem.

Evaluating the language

Sociological Criticism

The sociological criticism approach deals with the direct analysis of society with reference to societal problems, conflicts and contemporary issues. Areas of analysis typically include events, happenings, cultural trends and effects of modernism

Examines the book in relation to society and culture

Rhetorical Criticism

The rhetorical criticism approach makes use of the technique of persuasion and aims to understand the conveyance of the content of poetry and other works of art. It evaluates the angle of approach, presentation of arguments, evidence and attitude.

Evaluating the argument/perspective the story is told

Stylistic Criticism

The stylistic critical technique evaluates the manner of presentation for any work and focuses on the minor details like diction, vocabulary, tone and various style elements.

How the story is told—diction, narrative structure

Metaphorical Criticism

A metaphorical critical analysis makes use of the nature, purpose and evaluation of metaphors used in any work. The analysis probes into the meaning and illustration along with the message conveyed of the metaphorical stance being used.

Looking at the text as a metaphor for …

Structuralist Criticism

The structural critical analysis studies symmetry, trends and patterns for a particular society or for a societal comparative analysis of various societies underlying patterns of symmetry which are held to be common to all societies. Corroboration is drawn from sociology and anthropology, and the study techniques categorize and evaluate the work in larger context rather than assessing its quality alone.

Looking for patterns to society—answering “why people behave a certain way”

Biographical Criticism

A biographical critical analysis evaluates a  poem in terms of the reflection of the writer’s psychology, or as biographical data piece. This kind of analysis focuses on the interrelationship of a particular work in context of understanding the influences, inspiration and circumstances of the writer.

Finding something in the author’s past that inspired the work

Marxist Criticism

In case of the Marxist critical analysis, a work is analyzed on the basis of its political correctness and calls for mention of support for workers against capitalist exploitation and perils of free market perils.

Examining how workers/lower class are treated

Historical Criticism

Historical criticism analyzes works in their historical context and evaluates the use of  allusions, words, phrases and diction along with conventions and expectations at the time of the written works produced.

Only looks at historical allusions & how work portrays the time period

Psychological (Freudian) Criticism

Psychological critical analysis examine works for the portrayal of sexual imagery and against other Freudian concepts; struggles of the superego, the Oedipus complex, repressed contents of consciousness, etc. The purpose of Freudian analysis is to highlight the existence of psychic conflicts rather than looking for aesthetical merits.

Examining shapes in relation to sex/diagnosing the characters

Mythological (Archetypal) Criticism

Mythological criticism evaluates content for instinctual and inmost emotions in human nature which are influenced by certain events, happenings and character situations. The analysis is based on communal beliefs since mythology is strongly derived from religious beliefs, anthropology, and cultural history.

Moralist Criticism

The moral critical approach examines poetry and art works against standard ethical and civil criteria; humanistic, societal impact, tolerance, equality, social justice and sensitivity.

This approach adheres to the humanistic and civil element in poems, dramas and other art work and evaluates the impact and influence of works of literature in a stringent moral context.

Look for the moral/lessons, criticize the lack thereof—what does the book teach

Feminist Criticism

Feminist critical analysis is concerned with the politics of women’s authorship, representation of the women’s condition within literature. Origin of feminine criticism is originally derived from the classic works of 19th Century women authors like George Eliot and Margaret Fuller.

Based on the feminist theory, the feminist critical evaluation analyzes elements like stereotypes of women, images of women in literature, literary mistreatment of women, place of women in patriarchal societies and challenges faced by women in the modern era.

Examining the women and how they’re\ portrayed

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