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Understanding Frankenstein Through Literary Criticism


Understanding Frankenstein Through Literary Criticism Meaning Changes with Personal Bias Map Explanation: I have placed the work itself in the center of my map ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Understanding Frankenstein Through Literary Criticism

Understanding Frankenstein Through Literary
  • Meaning Changes with Personal Bias

A Critic
  • One who expresses a reasoned opinion on any
    matter especially involving judgment of its
    value, truth, righteousness, beauty, or

A Literary Critic
  • The evaluative or interpretive work written by
    professional interpreters of texts
  • Criticism not because it is negative, but
    because it asks hard, analytical, crucial, or
    critical questions about the work

A Literary Critics Approach
  • Uses Literary Theory to guide the analysis and
    interpretation of the work
  • Literary Theory has five basic points of view
  • The real world as it connects to the work
  • The authors life and times as influencing the
  • The moral implications of the work
  • The structure of the work itself
  • The relationship of the work to earlier works

In other words
  • Critics use different lenses use to view and talk
    about art, literature, and even culture which
  • consider works of art based on certain
    assumptions within a school of theory
  • focus on particular aspects of a work they
    consider important to the meaning as a whole

What are the types of Literary Criticism?
In short
  • Lit. Crit. helps the reader
  • Resolve a question, problem, difficulty in the
  • Decide which is the more accurate of conflicting
  • Form judgments on the artistic merit of a work

Which Lenses We Will Use Today
  • Psychoanalytic
  • Feminist
  • Post Colonial
  • Archetypal / Symbolic

The Theories in Brief Psychoanalytic
  • The psychological motivation of characters and
  • Freud influences of a characters id
    (instincts, pleasure seeking) ego (What you
    consciously want), and superego (the moral
    governing principle that keeps the ID and Ego in
    check its consequences and repercussions.)
  • Jung the process of individuation (what makes
    one different form everyone else). Three parts of
    the self the shadow, or the darker, unconscious
    self the persona, or a man's social personality
    and the anima, or a man's "soul image.  A
    neurosis occurs when someone fails to assimilate
    one of these unconscious components into his
    conscious and projects it on someone else instead

Guiding Questions Psychoanalytic Theory
  • How do the operations of repression structure or
    inform the work?
  • How can characters' behavior, narrative events,
    and/or images be explained in terms of
    psychoanalytic concepts of any kind?
  • Are there prominent words in the piece that could
    have different or hidden meanings? Could there be
    a subconscious reason for the author using these
    "problem words"?

The Theories in Brief Feminist
  • The impact of gender on meaning
  • A critique of patriarchal culture where women are
  • Argues that male fears are represented through

Guiding Questions Feminist Theory
  • How is the relationship between men and women
  • What are the power relationships between men and
  • What does the work reveal about the operations
    (economically, politically, socially, or
    psychologically) of patriarchy?

The Theories in Brief Post-Colonial
  • looks at issues of power, economics, politics,
    religion, and culture
  • Questions whether the work reinforces or
    criticizes colonial hegemony (dominant culture
    controls and defines the weaker)

Guiding Questions Post-Colonial Theory
  • How does the literary text, explicitly or
    allegorically, represent various aspects of
    colonial oppression?
  • What person(s) or groups does the work identify
    as "other" or stranger? How are such
    persons/groups described and treated?
  • How does the text respond to or comment upon the
    characters, themes, or assumptions of a canonized
    (colonialist) work?

The Theories in Brief Archetypal / Symbolic
  • assumes that there is a collection of symbols,
    images, characters, and motifs (i.e. archetypes)
    that evokes basically the same response in all
  • Some common archetypes
  • Garden paradise, Desert spiritual emptiness
  • Red passion, Green growth, fertility
  • Serpent evil, wisdom, destruction
  • Hero archetype - quest, initiation (separation,
    transformation, return), scapegoat
  • Biblical, Mythical allusions

Guiding Questions Archetypal / Symbolic Theory
  • How does the work use imagery to develop its own
    symbols? (i.e. making a certain road stand for
    death by constant association)
  • Is there a central symbol or focal point that can
    be said to sum up the entirety of the work?
  • How does the imagery and characterization connect
    to the associations with the archetype?

Your Task
  • 1. Read the passage through the assigned critical
    theory lens.
  • 2. As a group, annotate the text, underlining
    important words and sentences.
  • 3. Discuss the meaning of the passage. Keep in
    mind that you are reading the passage through the
    eyes of the literary critic that you were given.
    Ask yourself, "What would this sort of critic
    look for? Why is it important?
  • 4. After discussion, construct a paragraph
    interpreting the passage through your lens.
    Use the guiding questions to help frame your

Group Roles
  • Recorder take notes on the discussion
  • Manager guide discussion through the questions,
    keep group on task (in other words, manager keeps
    it focused on the critical theory)
  • Researcher (s) anchor discussion in the text
    (in other words, researchers ground the
    discussion in the work)
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