Analysis of Literary Theories - Paper Example

Published: 2021-07-30
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Boston College
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Many are the time's literature is presented to a group of people, but few end up understanding straight away what the literature piece communicate. Literature work is described as an art with intellectual worth despite the hidden meaning it carries. Literature work range from poems, novels, short stories, drama among others. Literature originated from the era of civilization when it was defined as any written piece of work. Some of the earliest writings were the ancient Egypt literature and the Sumerian literature (Eagleton, 18). Documentation is written, but it carried with it a lot of styles and ideas used during its composition. Writings have evolved gradually, and today it is a subject in the school curriculum that aids learners understand and learn how to interpret the literally styles and theories applied in any piece of literature (Hall, 32). Literary methods, therefore, can be defined as the principles acquired from the internal analysis of a literary text. In this study, literary theories featured in literature work will be defined and studied to aid learners to understand what they entail and their importance in any piece of literature. In this study, poems will be the literature work to feature and evaluate.

Literary theories are many, but they are all geared towards giving readers of any literary work including poems a guide to a better understanding and analysis of a text. A learner who lacks knowledge literary theories use and application is likely to fail to grasp meaning intended in a poem. Approaches are developed to help readers define how different individuals read and understand the text (Auerbach and Mimesis 67). Many theory developers may declare their theories the one, but readers tend to interpret text following the guidelines of given different approaches one at a time. It is therefore correct to say all literal theories despite their variance are a lens through which a text is analyzed. It is important when reading, to approach the book with an open mind without restricting oneself to one theory perceptive, as it gives an individual a chance to explore a whole new perspective.

How literary theories are essential to students

When engaging learners in poetry or any literature text, it is vital to introduce literary arguments as a way of improving learners reading experience. Learners who use theories in a literature analysis learn how to precisely understand what the text means and also they understand how those meanings are developed. Theory knowledge does not only help learners interpret text but also play in assisting learners to understand the world around them beyond the text. They also serve as a basis through which learners make personal decisions (Hall, 23). Poems are deemed challenging to teach learners, especial those with many critical theories applied, but when learners learn how literary methods are created and used in text analysis, they begin to appreciate the art. A student who learns theories application learns how to recognize and apply criticism and creativity which is necessary for literature.

Literary Theory

Literary theory is described as a scope through which readers of literature use, to express their work and deduct meaning of the work. The lens used to criticizes and analysis literature are acquired from different schools of theories. Some of the typical disciplines from which critical approaches are derived include formalism, cultural criticism, Marxist criticism, feminism and Psychoanalytic Criticism.


Formalism does not define a text good or bad but rather examine the natural features in a literature text. The document requires being analyzed on its own without considering the outside influence. Formalism treats each material different with unique function, although it is challenged by critics who view literature as a product of social and historical events. Formalism critiques are similar to new criticism and structuralism (Lemon and Reis, 56). Using formalist critic in a text one considers factors such as style, structure, imagery, and tone among other features which are all within a text for example when studying the poem Mother to Son by Langston Hughes it is easy to spot the variety of features used in the text such as imagery. In the poem, the mother describes the stairs as tacks and splinters of which this is a real imagery (Hughes, paragraph 2). The mother described her past hard life as life for me has not been crystal stairs (Hughes, paragraph 1) this was figurative to show her life was filled with hardship. The poem tone remains calm throughout portraying mothers love to his son. By using all the formalism critiques in the poem, it is easy for the leader to make sense of what the author was communicating. Every word, symbolism, and style in a poem is created creatively with a purpose.

Cultural theory

Cultural criticism is a new school that examine any piece of literature beyond the usual. Formalism features mainly the critical aspects of a text, but cultural criticism examines the external influence of a document. It views writing to have featured the occurring events and belief of the time the book, poem or text was composed, for example, cultural beliefs, laws, and values (Hall, 72). For example, Still I Rise by Maya Angelou is a poem that illustrates a great deal of the African American culture. It also demonstrates an era when the African

Feminist theory

Feminism criticism uses feminist theories to analyze text. It evaluates mostly how men and women are treated in different cultures. Most of the feminist arguments are directed to reflect the patriarchal system in the society. In patriarchal societies, the men dominate all social institutions, and language while the females are stereotyped and projected inferior to their, male counterparts (Auerbach and Mimesis 123). Feminism theories are said to have been developed since the 1960s and are common in many kinds of literary works for example in the poem Still I Rise by Maya Angelou, she uses feminism traits in her poem to illustrate the feminist theory. For example, she says does my sexiness upset you (Angelou paragraph 2,) this is a good indicator of the era in which she was raised when gender bias was common. In the poem, she defies the stereotype that women are not supposed to work and earn money.

Marxism criticism

The Marxist critics in literature are derived from his works where he defines that history and culture are both represented by the economic struggles. The text always tries to show how the financial classes try to compete but the upper class remains dominant and in control. The theory reflects how the high class oppresses the other classes for selfish gain. Through this argument, it is also illustrated that the social structure which one is brought up in defines one's nature. When using Marxist theories to analyze text, it is essential to analyses the class the author is coming from, what values does the characters involved in the literature embrace and which do they denounce. In the poem Still I Rise by Maya Angelou the economic difference in the era that resulted to slavery is portrayed is also as a result of social structures that the women are discriminated.

Psychoanalytic Criticism

The Psychoanalytic Criticism is a critical theory that is founded under Sigmund Freud works. The approach examines the controversial and new aspects of a text such as wishful thinking, repression, and sexuality. The author desires are psychoanalyzed, the reader reactions are also analyzed and the characters featured in work. The critics also extends by analyzing the symbols and language used in demonstrating the authors unconscious fears and desires. The Psychoanalytic Criticism, therefore, can be afraid to feature mainly on investigating the authors creativity, the author past, and current biological circumstances and also analyze the fictional use of language and character (Eagleton, 43).

Literary Theories in Still I Rise, By Maya Angelou

The poem still I rise is written by an African American female who wish to retaliate and talk against racism and gender discrimination pressing issues during her upbringing, and these are issues that relate to the cultural and feminism literally theory. Maya speaks against a society that spoke ill of her ancestors, and the title of the poem is sarcastic as it serves as a response to people who look down on people below. Therefore, it is a good indicator of an existing social class difference in the society and how those on the upper class devalue and victimize the less fortunate. The response showing the class difference is an excellent example of a Marxist critics theory application in the poem. From a reader perspective, the poem is an excellent source of motivation for those who feel weak and hurt.

By examining the poem using the formalism theory the main character and the voice of the poem is a woman. In the poem, it is quoted does my sexiness upset you?/ Does my sassiness upset you (Angelou paragraph 2, 7), figuratively she compares the dance to that of a diamond. All this are attributes of a female character giving the reader the assumption that the author is female. The tone of the poem is accusatory and when the writer says you the reader attention is grabbed as the writer grabbed a feel of oppression. The author's tone is also humorous and playful in stanza two and seven, but on the other hand, the tone comes out powerful and strong in stanza, 3, 4 and 9. The writer has also used sarcasm when she says oil wells pumping in my living room (Angelou, paragraph 2) this is an authors wishful thinking and sarcastic. The character in the poem is portrayer poor, so there was no way she could own an oil well in her living room. It is also impossible to hold an oil well in ones living room.

The either also uses repetition, imagery or personification among many other literary themes. She repeats I rise in the entire poem provoking emotions of power. In the poem, she quotes, I am black ocean (Angelou, paragraph 8) this is an imagery black is characterize as evil or fear. Therefore, she distinguished herself to be in a pool of despair and cruelty as a black American woman. Historically, the black women were subjected to both slavery and male oppression the black ocean is an excellent imagery to showcase the intensity of the cruelty. Gold, diamond and oil wells are also used as imagery.

The poem also features the Psychoanalytic Criticism in that, the complete poem response is directed towards persons who are oppressed. The authors use her ability to write as a tool for liberations, from the way the poem is written both the oppressor and the oppressed are portrayed to have power, and therefore the writer intends to pass the message that, those who need to be liberated they must first free their minds. If black women want to be free, they must be ready to challenge their oppressors thinking.

Literary Theories in Annabel Lee by Edgar Allan Poe

The author of the poem Anabel Lee is an American who is characterized to have lived in the romantic period of literature. His work is filled with mystery and therefore leaves the reader with plenty of questions. The mystery in the authors poem is equally mysterious as his life when growing up to his death. He was born of parents in the acting business, but his father left while he was young and closely after his father left, his mother died. Consistent failures and tragedy mark his life growing up. However, a poem he wrote: The Raven sparkled life and success (Meyers, 29).

Allan Poe is recognized for his significant capacity to apply literary theories in his work. In the poem Annabel Lee the author uses feminist theory to expresses the woman pictured in his time and mind. He describes Annabel physical appearance in th...

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