Literary Criticism

Literary Criticism and Theory: Meaning, Impacts and Uses

The terms literary criticism and theory are interrelated, but definitely mean different things. They are the interpretive tools that assist us to read a literacy work in a meaningful manner.   This paper attempts to explore the meaning, impact and uses of literary criticism and theory. Accordingly, the focus of the paper is, if literary criticism and theory are understood and applied well, is capable of helping the readers to approach a work in its totality.

Meaning of Literary criticism and theory
Criticism derives from the Greek word krinein, which means ‘to judge’ and its noun kritikos means ‘a judge of literature’ (Goring 63). “Literary criticism is the discipline/practice of interpreting, analyzing, and evaluating works of literature” says Tim Gillespie (Gillespie 3).   When we interpret a work, we express one or more of its possible meanings. A lasting work of literature will often have multiple meanings, including the meanings that the author intended to convey, meanings that readers have discovered over the years, and meanings that readers encounter the work in the present day. When we analyze a work, we get to see how it is composed of. Analysis is technical: pulling things apart, examining relationships among parts, thinking over causes and effects etc. When we evaluate a work, we form a personal judgement about its value. In practice all these three functions of criticism are combined in one activity (Gillespie 4).
Literary theory refers to any principles derived from internal analysis of literary texts that can be applied in multiple interpretive situations. It is the specific viewpoint a critic or reader staked out from which he/she interprets, analyzes, and evaluates works of literature (Goring 65). For example, some readers adopt a theory based in psychology, hoping to learn something from characters, while others seek moral instruction from literary works and still others...