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English - Literary Criticism - Essay Example

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Terry Eagleton (1984) sees literary criticism as something which goes well beyond literary issues, in that criticism should be directed towards a message about the whole culture. For him, culture and politics are related, as are poetry and social life, and language is related to social practice as a whole (Eagleton, 1984, p…
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English - Literary Criticism
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English - Literary Criticism

To Eagleton, mass culture has a role in society, and that role is to connect the social experience in a discourse. To this end, Eagleton sees literary criticism in this light as being traditional, for this was the traditional mode of literary criticism through the ages. All the while, literary criticism should draw upon diverse fields, such as gender studies, psychoanalytic studies, film studies, cultural theory and the writings of the past (Eagleton, 1984, p. 123). Thus, for Eagleton, as for most critics, a simple story of talking pigs who take over a farm and soon become despotic is seen not in terms of its literary merit, but, rather, as an allegory for something else – the Russian Revolution. The criticism must take this into account, and, thus, the criticism must have a basis in historical thought and politics. Mass culture, such as literature and poetry, thus have a function beyond that of merely entertaining the masses – the literature and the poetry must say something about our society, and the criticism of such should be able to interpret these works in this manner. In this case, the work in question would need to be interpreted for the symbolism that it conveys, and the meaning that speaks to society as a whole. The passage should be reflective of societal values that are common to all, or universal, and this meaning must be teased from the passage. In this case, Alice has found another world that is parallel to this one, except that it is considerably different. It is through the looking glass, which is an expression that is commonly used for events that are bizarre to human understanding. Just the fact that through the looking glass has entered societal vernacular is proof of what Eagleton is saying – the work of Lewis Carroll has a unifying social message, one that everybody can understand. When events seem to be too bizarre to comprehend, or, in other words, become events where somebody might say “you can't make this stuff up,” then one may say that the events are through the looking glass. At the same time, the passage speaks to the universal desire to be somewhere else, become somebody else, and inhabit another world. Perhaps the other world might be one that is free from war, hunger, poverty, and suffering. That, too, would be through the looking glass, as a world that is free from the scourges of this world would be one that would be truly bizarre to comprehend. Yet, that is the utopia about which most, if not all, of us dream. Since this desire is universal, then it would be considered by Eagleton to be unifying and a way to speak to society, and draw all factions of society together. At the same time, the passage might be considered to be social commentary, which is another element of criticism, according to Eagleton. The social commentary in this case would be the commentary that we should all strive for another world, better than the world that we have now. It seems that the looking glass world of Alice is a world that is better than the current world, for the pictures are alive and there is a man in the clock who is grinning at her. While these are fantastic elements, they are also elements which might make up a better world. Pictures which come alive would be one element of a better world, for the people in the pictures are no longer two dimensional beings, but become living and breathing. Loved ones who have passed, yet are ... Read More
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