The Role of Critical Theories of Literary

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Critical Literary Theories play a variety of important roles in the study of novels, plays, and poems. The importance of history and sociology of cultures for given literature, the psychology of the characters, human life and circumstances, race and gender, and power in society are all revealed in the analysis of books and stories (Genette, 1982). As a result, Critical Literary Theories are instruments for deciphering the essence of plays, novels, and poems. The aim of this paper is to look at the Psychological Criticism and Reader Response Criticism Critical Literary Theories, how they're used, and why they're important to analyze. Psychological Criticism is a form of criticism focused on Sigmund Freud's psychological theories. This method focuses on delving into the characters' psychology and the literature used. As such, it delves on the critical analysis of the behavior, actions, and the motivation of the characters. Furthermore, protagonist’s psychology is used to measure and interpret the text and the author’s state of mind (Genette, 1982). The significance of this theory is in its ability to study the psychology and the bibliography of the author to establish the meaning of the themes and the literary devices used. Also, it uses psychological theories to analyze the concepts, terms, and methods of the fictional characters.

At the same time, Reader Response Criticism is a method that entirely depends on the reader of a given literature. In this approach, the translation and the interpretation of the text are dynamic. It is drawn from the reader’s political, economic, cultural, and religious background. In this regard, the readers are at liberty to use his experiences, attitudes, thoughts, and views to the text and interpret it using his own perspective (Genette, 1982).

The two critical approaches can be compared in a number of ways. The difference between them is that Reader Response Criticism draws its meaning from the past experiences of the reader to interpret the text. Psychological Criticism is, however, empirical and relies on the analysis of the psychology of characters and events in the text. The similarity between the theories is utilization of the analysis of the mind to arrive to the meaning contained in the text (Genette, 1982).

In the determination of conflicts and meanings in literature, Reader Response Criticism is the best approach to apply. It is due to its ability to use the readers experience to analyze the conflicts and derive meaning out the literature. Given that most conflicts emerge from the challenges in the society, the reader is able to provide solution. This approach has been selected, because it is dynamic, and the modern world is dynamic; thus, the reader must use vast experience and perspectives by employing problem solving and critical thinking experiences (Genette, 1982).


Genette, G. (1982). Figures of literary discourse. European perspectives. New York: Columbia University Press.

October 07, 2021


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