The scarlet letter was her passport into regions where other women dared not uctionNathaniel Hawthorne is one of the most prolific symbolists in American literature, and a study of his symbols is necessary to understanding his novSymbolism in the scarlet r one we see early in the novel, at about the same time we see hester wearing the scarlet letter for the first time in public, is the scaffold on which she stands after walking out of the her character is strongly tied to the scarlet letter, hester represents the public sinner who changes and learns from her own sorrow to understand the humanity of others
In Book X of his Republic, Plato may have given us the first volley of detailed and lengthy literary criticism. The dialog between Socrates and two of his associates shows the participants of this discussion concluding that art must play a limited and very strict role in the perfect Greek Republic. Richter provides a nice summary of this point: "...poets may stay as servants of the state if they teach piety and virtue, but the pleasures of art are condemned as inherently corrupting to citizens..." (19).
Formalists disagreed about what specific elements make a literary work "good" or "bad"; but generally, Formalism maintains that a literary work contains certain intrinsic features, and the theory "...defined and addressed the specifically literary qualities in the text" (Richter 699). Therefore, it's easy to see Formalism's relation to Aristotle's theories of dramatic construction.
To help authors achieve their objectives, Aristotle developed elements of organization and methods for writing effective poetry and drama known as the principles of dramatic construction (Richter 39). Aristotle believed that elements like "...language, rhythm, and harmony..." as well as "...plot, character, thought, diction, song, and spectacle..." influence the audience's katharsis (pity and fear) or satisfaction with the work (Richter 39). And so here we see one of the earliest attempts to explain what makes an effective or ineffective work of literature.
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1. All articles must come from journals on the “Approved Journals” list. (See “2.” below.) Also, do not use reviews of plays, operas, or movies. Do not use comparison articles. (If the name of another work is included in the article title, assume it is a comparison paper, and discard it.) Do not use reviews published before 1930. Do not use the following sources: Nineteenth Century Literature Criticism (NCLC), Booklist, or Publishers’ Weekly. Do not use abstracts. (Read the entire article.) In summary, annotate critical articles from approved journals written after 1930 focusing specifically on the original work itself. I will discard annotations that do not meet the above criteria.
2. Approved Journals List: Do not use any journal not listed below. I will discard any annotation from a journal that is not on the approved list. Approved Journals: Explicator; The American Transcendental Quarterly; ELH(English Literary History); American Literature; PMLA; College English; Modern Language Notes; Novel: A Forum on Fiction; The New England Quarterly; Studies in the Novel; Yale Journal of Criticism; College Literature; Studies in American Fiction; Midwest Quarterly. (Deduction: -25 for each entry using a journal other than those on the approved list.)
Please note that the schools of literary criticism and their explanations included here are by no means the only ways of distinguishing these separate areas of theory. Indeed, many critics use tools from two or more schools in their work. Some would define differently or greatly expand the (very) general statements given here. Our explanations are meant only as starting places for your own investigation into literary theory. We encourage you to use the list of scholars and works provided for each school to further your understanding of these theories.
In many online catalogs, you can simply do a subject search for your author's name, and then browse a list of headings which begin with that name. Good subject headings for literary criticism often include the words "criticism and interpretation." Another way to find a good subject heading is to look in the red LCSH books, which your librarian can help you find and use. Look for your author's last name, and then browse for useful headings.
In literary analysis, a Jungian critic would look for archetypes (also see the discussion of Northrop Frye in the Structuralism section) in creative works: "Jungian criticism is generally involved with a search for the embodiment of these symbols within particular works of art." (Richter 505). When dealing with this sort of criticism, it is often useful to keep a handbook of mythology and a dictionary of symbols on hand.
At its most basic level, reader response criticism considers readers' reactions to literature as vital to interpreting the meaning of the text. However, reader-response criticism can take a number of different approaches. A critic deploying reader-response theory can use a psychoanalytic lens, a feminists lens, or even a structuralist lens. What these different lenses have in common when using a reader response approach is they maintain "...that what a text is cannot be separated from what it does" (Tyson 154).
The structuralist school emerges from theories of language and linguistics, and it looks for underlying elements in culture and literature that can be connected so that critics can develop general conclusions about the individual works and the systems from which they emerge. In fact, structuralism maintains that "...practically everything we do that is specifically human is expressed in language" (Richter 809). Structuralists believe that these language symbols extend far beyond written or oral communication.