Literary Perspectives Essay

1388 Words Sep 9th, 2009 6 Pages
English september 8, 2009

Literary Perspectives

The following information was excerpted from The Bedford Introduction to Literature, 8th edition, 2079–2098

Formalist critics are primarily concerned with the language, structure, and tone of a work, otherwise known, as it’s “formal elements”. Formalists gravitate towards “intrinsic” matters in a piece of literature, in simpler terms, diction, irony, paradox, metaphor, and symbol. In a similar fashion, they emphasize larger elements, for instance, plot, characterization, and narrative technique, in order to derive meaning from a literary work. The work must stand by itself, and any information that goes beyond the text, for example, biography, history, politics, and
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One might expect from a biographical approach to unveil deep discontentment in Chopin’s own marriage reflective of Mrs. Mallard’s malaise. By all accounts, Chopin appears to have been very happily married in reality, and biographers agree that Chopin’s marriage was not a source of oppression in her personal experience. While biographers speculate about a writer’s own motivations, psychological approaches explore the motivations of characters and the symbolic meanings of events- conscious or unconscious-in a literary work. Psychological criticism draws upon psychoanalytic theories, especially those of Sigmund Freud or Jacques Lacan to understand more fully the text, the writer, and the reader. The existence of a human unconscious is central to any psychological strategy; Impulses, desires, and emotions that a person is oblivious to on a conscious level, but which nonetheless have a major impact on human emotion and behavior. A psychological reading of Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” certainly exposes Mrs. Mallard, upon learning of her husband’s alleged death, experiencing powerful unconscious desires for freedom that she had previously suppressed. Such analysis might lead to an interpretation of Mrs. Mallard’s life set firmly in the confines of the destructive nature of self-repressive tendencies. Historical criticism moves beyond the

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