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5 Critical Approaches to Literature

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Essay title: 5 Critical Approaches to Literature

5 Critical Approaches to Literature

Structuralist- Is a theory of a human kind thought to be parts of a system of signs. It is described as a reaction to “modernist” alteration and despair. It is heavily influenced by linguistics especially by the work of Ferdinand de Saussure. Useful was Saussure’s concept of phoneme which is the smallest basic speech sound or unit of pronunciation, the idea that phoneme exists in two kinds of relationships (diachronic and synchronic). Diachronic is a “horizontal” relationship with the other phonemes that precede and follow it in a particular usage, ulterance, or narrative. Synchronic is a “vertical” relationship with the entire system of language within which individual usages, ulterances, or narratives have meaning. Mythemes are also part of structuralism, which are myths broken into the smallest meaningful units. Most structuralists followed Saussure’s methods of overriding langue (tongue/language), or language of myth in which each mytheme and mytheme- constituted myth fits meaningfully, rather than about isolated individual paroles or narratives. Structuralists believe that sign systems must be understood in terms of binary oppositions. Opposite terms modulate until they are finally resolved or reconciled by an intermediary third term. Struturalism was largely a European phenomenon in its origin and development but was influenced structuralism.

Deconstructionist- Involves the close reading of texts in order to demonstrate any given text has irreconcilably contradictory meanings rather than being unified as a whole. It is explained as “not a dismantling of a text but a demonstration that it has already dismantled itself.” Deconstruction was created and was profoundly influenced by the French philosopher on language, Jacques Derrida. It was argued that in Western Culture, people tend to think in binary oppositions; white but not black, masculine and therefore not feminine, a cause rather than an effect. Deconstruction suggests these oppositions are hierarchies in miniature viewed as positive or superior. Through deconstruction, the aim by Derrida is to erase the boundary between binary oppositions and to do so in such a way to put the implied hierarchy into question. Deconstruction arose as a response to structuralism and formalism. Deconstructionists see works in terms of their undecidability. They reject formalists’ view that literary work is demonstrably unified from beginning to end or that it is organized around a single center that ultimately can be identified. They also see texts as more radically heterogeneous. Though a deconstructive reading can reveal the incompatible possibilities generated by text, it is impossible for the reader to decide among them.

Formalism- Formalists see literary work as an object in its own right. Concentrating their analyses on the interplay and relationships between the text’s essential verbal elements, they study the form of the work. Formalists seek to be objective in their analysis focusing on the work itself and eschewing external considerations. They also pay close attention to literary devices used and the patterns within them, and suggest that everyday language is stale and unimaginative. They argue that “literariness” has the capacity to overturn common and expected patterns,

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