Formalism/New Criticism is an approach that analyzes a text solely on the diction present, disregarding the intentions of the author. Formalism focuses heavily on the form of the writing, as well as the meaning, word choice and language. It is regarded in its own terms and all other influencing factors such as the author’s personal life and intentions are not included in the analysis. New Criticism focuses more heavily on symbols, imagery and word meaning. They both are critiqued by the literary devices present in the work. Formalism was founded primarily in England by I.A Richards, and New Criticism was adapted from it later on in America by American critics. The novel One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey can easily be approached using Formalism/New Criticism. The novel includes an abundance of symbols, symbolism, imagery and other literary devices. These devices can be interpreted and analyzed easily on their own without applying them to one’s personal life or to Kesey’s intentions or personal life. This type of criticism is highly effective because it allows the piece of literature to speak for itself. One can then analyze and create an opinion on the literature solely based on the quality of the literature, without any other influences.
Formalism or "New Criticism" focuses mainly on the structure of a literary piece. It closely examines mainly form, organization and structure. It breaks down the efficiency of literary devices. Although I.A. Richards and his followers were the founding parents of this criticism, the Russians also had taken their own form of "Formalism". Three Russian members of a linguistic circle in St. Petersburg used formalism to criticize works as well around 1916. Their approach was centralized on literature as a science. It looked at the foundation of literature. Even though they are very close by definition, the American criticism is the only one used in our society. The novel A Wizard of Earthsea was a favourite of my grade nine English teacher. Looking back on it now is whole different story. The book had a solid form but had weak literary devices. There was minimal symbolism or imagery. This made the book an easy read but it had no deeper meaning. It is hard to decide whether this criticism is effective or not. Most literature has good form, organization and structure. If they did not, there is a high chance the piece would not have been published. In terms of literary devices, it is easy to analyse a book for effectiveness. In my opinion, I would use this criticism but it would be hard to have a solid argument unless the book had absolutely structure.
New Criticism is the American modification of the English Formalism technique founded by I.A. Richards, which focuses on aspects such as form, structure, and word choice. New Criticism focuses solely on image, symbol, and meaning. It purely examines the novel itself, and does not include the author’s intention. The novel Lord of the Flies by William Golding can be analyzed using the New Criticism technique. Many symbols are integrated into the story relating to societal structure and character traits. The conch is the symbol of power, for whoever holds it is allowed to speak. Eventually, the boys within the group begin arguing without holding the conch, and this demonstrates the deterioration of order when the essence of humanity seeps through forethought. Piggy’s glasses are a symbol of clear and untarnished perspective. Piggy is rational and sees things with a fairly unbiased standpoint. However, the other boys do not listen to him and eventually break his glasses, symbolizing the destruction of rationality. The “Lord of the Flies”, which is a skewered pig’s head, speaks to Simon when he approaches it. It symbolizes the evil voice within every human and their underlying animalistic traits. It also symbolizes the irrational breaking point humans experience when order no longer exists. These, and many other symbols, are present in Lord of the Flies. The theory of New Criticism is effective in understanding double-meanings and foreshadowing, and these symbols help to paint a larger picture of the world through simple, recurring objects. I would use this theory when analyzing literature.
Formalism or "New Criticism" focuses solely on the authors work rather than the authors intent or outside factors that may influence the author. It focuses largely on symbolism, imagery and meaning. One could easily read the Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald through a new criticism point of view. Put aside the authors intent of the book there is a bounty of symbolism and imagery in the book such as the green light at the end of the dock or Gatsby's many beautiful shirts. These symbols could have many meanings which is the point of formalism. I myself would use New Criticism because it is strictly reading what is on the page and doesn't involve too much research into the author.
Formalism is a theory of literary criticism that focuses solely on the content of the work, especially on its structure, diction, and multiple meanings. Americans eventually adapted this technique into “New Criticism”, which varied in that focused on imagery, symbols, and meaning. Like Clark, I noticed that The Great Gatsby could be evaluated through the New Criticism lens. The author, Fitzgerald, weaves a motif of water throughout the book. For example, Gatsby gazes towards Daisy’s house over a bay between East Egg and West Egg. Gatsby also works on a boat and fishes for clams before he becomes wealthy. Rain falls at Gatsby’s tea party and his funeral, and he dies floating in his pool. In addition, the huge eyes of Dr. T.J. Eckleburg, staring down from a billboard outside the city, represent the feeling of being watched. This feeling is open to different meanings. Is an omnipotent “God” the watcher, or is it merely a reflection of one’s own guilt and conscience? I would use New Criticism, despite its lack of outer context, because I feel the use of imagery and symbols greatly increases the depth and impact of a work.
P.S. I lost this paragraph right before posting it and had to rewrite it.
Formalism is a type of literary criticism-also known as New Criticism-that analyzes a piece of literature based on the words and literary devices chosen. This criticism deciphers the way the text was written with no input from the author’s life or era. The literary work is meant to be separated from its origin and considered as its own independent entity. Shakespeare’s A Merchant of Venice can be deconstructed using this theory. There are many symbols in this work; one of the biggest is the pound of flesh that Shylock wants as a payment for a debt. This pound of flesh represents Shylocks revenge on some of society as well as his desire to have his own flesh and blood-his daughter-returned to him. This form of literary criticism is very effective in deciphering the deeper meanings found within a text and is often used for that purpose. Formalism is helpful when trying to understand a piece of literature because it allows one to break down and fully grasp the underlying message embedded within the text.
Formalism is the act of criticizing literature by focusing mainly on the work in itself, disregarding the author, his intent, and other things of that nature. This method is best used when analyzing poems and short fiction. New Criticism is a similair method but focuses more on the image, symbol, and meaning of the literature. If you analyze the William Golding's book The Lord of the Flies according to New Criticism, the cast away children can symbolize humanity, with Ralph resprenting civilization, Jack representing savagery, and Piggy representing intelligence. When criticizing literature i find that i would not use strict formalism as it disregards too much about the book and author's view. However, i would use the views of New Criticism.
Formalism treats each work studied as individual works, separated from the time period, author or social events that happened around its being written. Formalism, or as it is now known as New Criticism, focuses on the form of the writing as well as any symbolism, meaning, diction and image. It also looks at how the work is interconnected. Each year throughout high school a different Shakespearian work is studied. The formalist, or new criticism approach to literary criticism can be applied to any of his works. This is due the extreme amount of purposeful word choice, symbolism, diction, imagery and overall form Shakespeare is known for. For example in Macbeth every time the witches spoke it was done in rhyme. This made their lines have more of an impact as they wound stay with the reader longer. His use of symbolism in the same play helped the reader to better understand what was going on in the play, such as the use of blood and water. This form of criticism can be used for short stories or poetry, since they can be easier to deconstruct in this way because they are usually shorter.
The famous Shakespeare emphasizes the importance of diction and word choice through the organization of his writing in his plays. Particularly in his play Macbeth, it is evident how Shakespeare carefully chooses the structure and diction he wishes to use. Through the vast amount of imagery and metaphorical meanings displayed within the play, he is able to emphasize key areas related to the story he is trying to tell. Shakespeare’s clever use of imagery, puns, and other literary devices accentuate his attention to detail when writing his plays. This approach is very effective when analyzing poems because of the potential multiple meanings within them, as well as the author’s attention to their word choice. I would use this approach for short pieces of writing as it would be difficult to completely analyze an entire novel’s diction.
Formalism is a way of analyzing a literary piece based on its word content, multiple meanings and how it is structured. The content writing is what is being analyzed and makes no regard to the author’s intentions, background or anything else but the piece itself. A book that can be criticized in such a way is Shakespeare’s, Macbeth. Throughout the play there are many instances of thick description and emphasized content that allow the reader to critic the content in depth. Without A formalistic approach to literature, reading would not be everything that it is meant to be. Procuring one’s own thoughts on literature is part of the reading process and I believe it is very beneficial to reading experience.
3. Formalism is focused on the structural aspect of a written piece. Best applied to poetry and short stories, it analyzes the multiple meanings found in any one work.
An example of a work with multiple meanings is the poem “Dover Beach” by Matthew Arnold. Upon the initial reading, it appears to speak of love and how distance affects the heart. However, the poem is filled with melancholic diction; the poem could speak of a broken heart or a lost love. Is he a man at war with another man or is he at war with himself?
In many of the works I have read, the authors have hidden alternate meanings behind their words. Sometimes, it is by the way they word a sentence, or perhaps they have hidden a symbol in the name of a character. Formalism is a tool I would use to help dissect a piece I am reading.
Formalism/New Criticism approach focuses solely on what the author’s work portrays, rather than the author’s intentions, background, or any other outside factor. Formalism focuses on form, organization, structure, and word choice, while New Criticism focuses on imagery, symbolism, and meaning. As seen in Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities, he uses an abundance of imagery, and strong vocabulary to help the reader gain a clear image of what he is describing. “So entirely had it lost the life and resonance of the human voice, that it affected the senses like a once beautiful colour faded away into a poor weak stain” (Dickens 38). This is just an example of some of the profound imagery that we as the reader see in Dickens’ work, without ever concerning with what Dickens’ intentions were or his background. I would use this approach when writing a short story or a poem as it would be difficult to look past an author’s intentions in a long form piece of literature.
Big shout out to Liz for helping me plagiarize my entire essay! #toocoolforschool
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