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Structuralism vs.

Formalism Structuralism and formalism may sound like they should mean the same thing, but they are different. Formalism focused on the forms of literary works such as structure and language. According to formalist critic, focusing on form, allows the audience to read and interpret the actual words instead of focusing on the historical and political background, cultural context, biography. Focusing on the literature itself implies that is has a relatively independent existence apart from its culture and historical background. Formalism questions genre (i.e. what makes a poem a poem, not an epic). Criticism is categorized into four types: mimetic, rhetorical, expressive and formal. Mimetic criticism analyzes ways in which literature mimes the real. Rhetorical analyzes the way in which literature affects the audience. Expressive analyzes the artist or authors thoughts. Formal analyzes the works form. Formalism seeks to interpret literary texts and words outside its relation to the culture around it. By not focusing on the cultures or historical background in relation to the text, the audience is somewhat free from stereotypical thinking and has the opportunity to form unbiased opinions. The lack of focusing on the culture or historical background in relation to the text also allows the audience unfamiliarity with the text. Best explained by Nietzsche, the process of obtaining knowledge is by which we become familiar with the unfamiliar. Formalism believes Paylor 2 that a definitive answer can be found to everything. Literary critics describe literary parts and evaluate how well or bad the author has done. By focusing on form, formalism critics seek out the difference in figurative and literal meanings in literature. Truth is the concept according to formalism.

Structuralism does not focus on any one object. Instead, structuralism is opposed to the idea of their being any one concept that can stand alone. Structuralism opposes one idea; instead, it attempts to understand a concept in relation to what it does not represent, focusing on binary opposition. Structuralism questions the limits of language. In essence, human reality is structured, yet limited, by language. Unlike formalism, structuralism focuses on the understanding ideas through its relation to other concepts. Theorists argue that existence is lead by language. The world produces meaning. Therefore, its unrealistic to attempt to separate forms from their historical, political and cultural context. Language is a contrast with the community that uses it. Words represent the presence of the absence of objects. To mean is automatically not to be. By being meaning, the object is automatically not itself. Unlike formalism, structuralism focuses on the belief that a concept can have different interpretations. Anything that is being interpreted as a sign or a sign of a sign has infinite interpretation. Words are nothing but interpretation or signs; therefore they cannot stand alone. Contrary to formalism, truth and belief are determined on culture, background, language, community, etc.