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LET Material (Literature)


What is Literature?

 Comes from the Latin term “LITERA” which means ‘an encounter with letters’.
 It is a body of literary productions, ORAL, WRITTEN or VISUAL, containing imaginative language that realistically
portrays thoughts, emotions, and experiences of human condition.
 It is a language in use that provides insights and intellectual stimulation to the reader. As one explores literature, he
likewise discovers the beauty of language.
 It is a product of a particular culture that concretizes man’s array of VALUES, EMOTIONS, ACTIONS, & IDEAS.
 It is therefore the recreation of human experience that tells about people and their world.

Literary Standards

1. Universality - It appeals to everyone regardless or culture, race, sex, and time which are considered significant.
2. Artistry - It has an aesthetic appeal to everyone and thus possesses a sense of beauty.
3. Intellectual Value - It stimulates critical thinking that enriches mental processes of abstract and reasoning, making
man realizes the fundamental truths of life and its nature.
4. Suggestiveness - It unravels and conjures man’s emotional power to define symbolism, nuances, implied meanings,
images and message, giving and evoking visions above and beyond the plane of ordinary life and experiences.
5. Spiritual Value - It elevates the spirit and the soul and thus have power to motivate and inspire, drawn from the
suggested morals or lessons of the different literary genres.
6. Permanence - It endures across time and draws out the time factor: TIMELINESS, occurring at a particular time, and
TIMELESSNESS, remaining invariably throughout time.
7. Style - It presents peculiar way/s on how man see/s life as evidenced by the formation of his ideas, forms, structures,
and expressions which are marked by their memorable substance.

Literary Models
 Appeals in different aspects and importance

 It aims to understand and appreciate cultures and ideologies different from one’s own in time and space.

 It aims to promote language development like vocabulary and structure.


 It aims to help one achieve lasting pleasure and deep satisfaction in reading.

Classification of Literature
According to usage:


1. FICTION - is a literary work of imaginative narration, either oral or written, fashioned to entertain
and to make the readers think and more so, to feel.

2. NONFICTION - a literary work of REAL LIFE narration or expression based on history and facts
whose main thrust is intellectual appeal to convey facts, theories, generalizations,
or concepts about a particular topic.


1. PROSE - written in the common flow of language in sentences and paragraphs which give information,
relate events, express ideas, or present opinions.

2. POETRY - expressed in verse, measure, rhythm, sound, and imaginative language and creates
an emotional response to an experience, feeling, or fact.


1. Fiction (short story, novel, folktale, fable, legend)

2. Poetry
3. Essay
4. Drama / Play
5. Arts - paintings, drawings, music and dances
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Elements of Fiction

• Characters (protagonist, antagonist, foil, background)

• Plot (exposition, narrative hook, conflict, rising action, complication, climax,
falling action, denouement/conclusion)
• Setting (place, time, situation, mood)
• Theme - the overall feeling which the story revolves
• Point of View (first person- actor, third person-narrator, omniscient-all knowing)
• Structure or style (traditional or linear, modern or episodic)
• Mood and Tone (lonely, happy, suspense, horror, fantastic, etc.)

Elements of Tragedy (Aristotle’s Poetic)

• Peripeteia, reversal of fortune
• Anagnorisis, recognition of (ignorance to knowledge and vice versa)
• Hamartia tragic flaw
• Catharsis feeling of pity & fear
• Hubris problem
• Open ending hanging
• Close ending
• Synopsis

On Drama
• Narrator (Modern drama) • Playwright, Author, Poet, Novelist, Essayist,
• Messenger (Greek drama) Orator, Public Speaker
• Chorus (Greek drama) • Dialogue and Script
• Soliloquy • Scene and Act
• Aside • Stage and Stage craft (end stage, thrust stage, arena)
• Costume, mask, makeup, set
• Lighting (spotlight, floodlight, shade)

On Poetry Foot Patterns such as:

• Verse
• Diction • Iamb = ta-TUM,
• Language • Trochee = TUM-ta,
• Rhyme • Anapest = ta-ta-TUM
• Rhythm • Dactyl = TUM-ta-ta
• Meter • Spondee = TUM-TUM
• Imagery
• Symbolism
• Alliteration / Repetition
• Assonance
• Refrain

Types of Stanza in Poetry Meter - the systematic measurement of the verse in terms
of foot pattern used in verse.
• Heroic couplet - 2 verses • Monometer - 1 foot verse
• Terza rima - 3 verses • Dimeter - 2 feet verse
• Quatrain - 4 verses • Trimeter - 3 feet verse
• Quintet - 5 verses • Tetramemter - 4 feet verse
• Sestet - 6 verses • Pentameter - 5 feet verse
• Septet - 7 verses • Hexameter - 6 feet verse
• Octave • Heptameter - 7 feet verse
or Octava Rima - 8 verses • Octameter - 8 feet verse
• Nonet or
Spenserian stanza - 9 verses

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How to identify the metrical measurement of a verse?

• Count how many syllables are there in a verse.

• Determine if the syllable pattern is uniform.
• Try what foot pattern would be applicable (iambic, trochaic, anapestic, dactylic)
• Identify the measurement of the verse according to the foot pattern used.


I - Prose
• Novel & Novelette
• Long narrative divided into various chapters.
• The events are taken from true-to-life stories.
• Short Stories - Short narrative involving a simple plot and few characters
• Folk Tales
• Fairy Tales
• Whimsical Tales
• Fables - are stories whose characters are animals who speak and act like humans.
• Anecdotes – are merely product of the writer’s imagination.
The main aim is to bring lessons to the readers.
• Parables
• Legends - are usually talking about origins of things / people / places / animals etc.
• Myths
• Essays - expresses viewpoint of the writer about and issue or topic.
• Speeches
• Declamations
• Orations - formal treatment of a subject intended to be spoken in public.
• News - are records of every day events.
• Biography - deals with the written accounts of person’s life written by another person.

II – Poetry

A. Narrative Poetry

1. Epic - is an extended narrative poetry about a hero of a race.

The two types of Epic are:

a. Popular Epic – doesn’t have specific author.

Ex. Harvest song of Aliguyon, etc.

b. Modern Epic – has specific author.

Ex. Divine comedy of Dante, etc.

2. Metrical Tales - these narrative are written in verse and can be classified
either as a ballad or a metrical romance.
3. Idylls or home tales – Bayani sa Bukid by Al Perez
4. Love Tales – Florante at Laura
5. Tales of supernatural written for strong moral purpose in verse form.
Example: Ang Ibong Adarna
6. Ballad - a ballad is a story song that often has a refrain or chorus as in the example that follow.
7. Dramatic Poetry
8. Social Poem
9. Corrido
10. Awit

11. Other Types of Poetry:

a. Haiku
b. Tanka
c. Limericks
d. Acrostic Poem
e. Concrete or form poetry

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III – Types of Drama

– Comedy
– Tragedy
– Melodrama or Musical
– Farce
– Satire
– Morality
– Comedy of Error


1. Identify outstanding writers and their major works in Afro-Asian literature
2. Be familiar with the literary history, philosophy, religious beliefs and culture of the Afro-Asian nations
3. Interpret the significance and meaning of selected literary pieces
4. Point out the universal themes, issues, and subject matter that dominate Afro-Asian literature


1. Literary Periods. The Indus civilization flourished in northern India between 2500 and 1500 B.C. The Aryans, a group
of nomadic warriors and herders, were the earliest known migrants into India. They brought with them a well-developed
language and literature and a set of religious beliefs.

a. Vedic Period (1500 B.C. - 500 B.C.). This period is named for the Vedas, a set of hymns that formed the
cornerstone of Aryan culture. Hindus consider the Vedas, which were transmitted orally by priests, to be the most
sacred of all literature for they believe these to have been revealed to humans directly by the gods.
b. Epic and Buddhist Age (500 B.C. - A.D.). The period of composition two great epics, Mahabharata and the
Ramayana. This time was also the growth of later Vedic literature, new Sanskrit literature, and the Buddhist
literature in Pali.
c. Classical Period (A.D. - 1000 A.D.). The main literary language of northern India during this period was Sanskrit,
in contrast with the Dravidian languages of southern India. Sanskrit, which means ‘perfect speech’ is considered a
sacred language spoken by the gods and goddesses.
d. Medieval and Modern Age ( A.D. 1000 - present). Persian influences on literature was considerable this period.
Persian was the court language of the Moslem rulers. In the 18th century India was directly under the British Crown
and remained so until its Independence in1947.

2. Religions. Indian creativity is evident in religion as the country is the birthplace of two important faiths: Hinduism, the
dominant religion, and Buddhism, which ironically became extinct in India but spread throughout Asia.

a) Hinduism, literally “the belief of the people of India”, is the predominant faith of India and of no other nation. The
Hindus are deeply absorbed with God and the creation of the universe.
 The Purusarthas are the three ends of man: dharma – virtue. Duty, righteousness, moral law; artha- wealth; and
karma- love or pleasure. A fourth end is moksha- the renunciation of duty, wealth, and love in order to seek
spiritual perfection. It is achieved after the release from samasara, the cycle of births and deaths.
 The Hindus believe that all reality is one and spiritual, and that each individual soul is identical with this reality
and shares its characteristics: pure being, intelligence, and bliss. Everything that seems to divide the soul from
this reality is maya or illusion.
 The Hindus regard Purusha, the universal spirit as the soul and original source of the universe. As the universal
soul, Purusha is the life-giving principle in all animated beings. As a personified human being, Purusha’s body
is the source of all creation. The four Varnas serve as the theoretical basis for the organization of the Hindu
society. These were thought to have been created from Purusha’s body:

- The Brahman (priest) was purusha’s mouth. Their duty is to perform sacrifices, to study and to teach the
Vedas, and to guard the rules of Dharma. Because of their sacred work, they are supreme in purity and rank.
- The Ksatriyas (warriors) are the arms. From this class arose the kings who are the protectors of society.
- The Vaisyas (peasants) are the thighs. They live by trading, herding, and farming.
- The Surdas (serfs) are the feet. They engage in handicrafts and manual occupation and they serve meekly
the three classes above them. They are strictly forbidden to mate with persons of a higher varna.

b) Buddhism originated in India in the 6th century B.C. This religion is based on the teachings of Siddharta Gautama
called Buddha, or the ‘Enlightened One’. Much of Buddha’s teaching is focused on self-awareness and self
development in order to attain nirvana or enlightenment.
 According to the Buddhist beliefs, human beings are bound to the wheel of life which is a continual cycle of
birth, death, and suffering. This cycle is an effect of karma in which a person’s present life and experiences are
the result of past thoughts and actions, and these present thoughts and actions likewise create those of the future.

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 The Buddhist scriptures uphold the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths
are; 1) life is suffering; 2) the cause of suffering is desire; 3) the removal of desire of suffering; and 4) the Noble
Eightfold Paths leads to the end of suffering.
 The Noble Eightfold Paths consist of; 1) right understanding, 2) right thought, 3) right speech, 4) right action,
5) right means of livelihood, 6) right effort, 7) right consideration, and 8) right meditation.

3. Religious and Philosophical Works.

a) The Vedas form a collection of sacred among hymn or verse composed in archaic Sanskrit the Indo-European
speaking people who entered India from the Iranian regions. Most scholars believed it to have the period of about
1500- 1200 B.C.
b) The Dhammapada (Way of Truth) is an anthology of basic Buddhist teaching in a simple aphoristic style. One of
the best known books of the Pali Buddhist canon it contains 423 stanzas arranged in 26 chapters.
c) The Upanishads form a highly sophisticated commentary on the religious thought suggested by the poetic hymns of
the Rigveda. The name implies, according to same traditions, ‘sitting at the feet of the teacher.’
 The most important philosophical doctrine is the concept of a single supreme being, the Brahman, and
knowledge is directed toward reunion with it by the human soul, the Atman or self.
 The nature of eternal life is discussed and such themes as the transmigration of souls and causality in creation.

4. Epics. The two major Indian epics, the Mahabharata and the Ramayana, are the literary embodiments of Hinduism. The
Mahabharata is longer and more important, but the Ramayana seems to be more interesting for modern audience.
a) The Mahabharata consists of a mass of legendary and didactic material that tells
of the struggle for supremacy between two groups of cousins, the Kauravas and
the Pandavas. The traditional date for the war is 3102 B.C.
 The poem is made up of the almost 100,000 couplets divided into 18 parvans or sections.
 Authorship is traditionally ascribed to the sage Vsaya, although it is more likely
that he compiled existing material.
 It is an exposition on dharma (codes of conduct), including the proper conduct of a king, of a warrior. Of a man
living in times of calamity, and of a person seeking to attain emancipation from rebirth.
 The Bhagavad Gita (The blessed Lord’s Song) is one of the greatest and most beautiful of the Hindu scriptures.
It is regarded by the Hindus in somewhat the same way as the Gospels are by Christians. It forms part of Book
IV and is written in the form of a dialogue between the warrior Prince Arjuna and his friend and charioteer,
Krishna, who is also an earthly incarnation of the god Vishnu.

b) The Ramayana was composed in Sanskrit, probably not before 300 B.C., by the poet Valmiki, and consists of some
24,000 couplets divided into seven books. It reflects the Hindu values and forms of social organization, the theory of
karma, the ideas of wifehood, and feelings about caste, honor and promises.
The poem describes the royal birth of Rama, his tutelage under the sage Visavamitra, and his success in bending
Siva’s mighty bow, thus winning Sita, the daughter of king Janaka, for his wife. After Rama is banished from his
position as heir by an intrigue, he retreats to the forest with his wife and his half brother, Laksmana. There Ravana,
the demon-king of Lanka, carries off Sita, who resolutely rejects his attentions. After numerous adventures Rama
slays Ravana and rescues Sita. When they return to his kingdom, however, Rama learns that the people question the
queen’s chastity, and he banishes her to the forest where she gives birth to Rama’s two sons. The family is reunited
when he come of age, but Sita, after again protesting her innocence, received by earth, which swallows her up.

5. Literary Selections

a) The Panchatantra is a collection of Indian beast fables originally written in Sanskrit. In Europe the work was known
under the title The Fables of Bidpai after the narrator, and Indian sage named Bidpai, (called Vidyapati in Sanskrit).
 In theory, the Panchatantra is intended as a textbook of Artha (worldly wisdom); the aphorisms tend to glorify
shrewdness and cleverness more that the helping of others.
b) Sakuntala is a Sanskrit drama by Kalidasa. Love is the central emotion that binds the characters Sakuntala and king
Dushyanta. What begins as a physical attraction for both of them becomes spiritual in the end as their love endures
and surpasses all difficulties. King Dushyanta is a noble and pious king who upholds his duties above personal
desire. Sakuntala, on the other hand, is a young girl who matures beautifully because of her kindness, courage, and
strength of will. After a period of suffering, the two are eventually reunited.
c) The little Clay Cart (Mrcchakatika) is attributed to Shudraka, a king. The characters in this play include a Brahman
merchant who has lost his money through liberality, a rich courtesan in love with a poor young man, much
description of resplendent palaces, and both comic and tragic or near-tragic emotional situations
d) Gitanjali: Song Offerings was originally published in India in 1910 and its translation followed in1912. In these prose
translations, Rabindranath Tagore uses imagery from nature to express the themes of love and the internal conflict
between spiritual longings and earthly desires.
e) The Taj Mahal a poem by Sahir Ludhianvi is about the mausoleum in North India built by the mogul emperor Shah
Jahan for his wife Mumtaz-i-Mahal. The façade of this grandiose structure is made of white marble and is surrounded
by water gardens, gateways, and walks. The tomb at the center of the dome stands on a square block with towers at
each corner. The construction of the building took twenty years to complete involving some 20,000 workers.
f) On Learning to be an Indian an essay by Santha Rama Rau illustrates the telling effects of colonization on the lives of
the people particularly the younger generation. The writer humorously narrates the conflicts that arise between her
grandmother’s traditional Indian values and her own British upbringing.
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6. Major Writers

a. Kalidasa a Sanskrit poet and dramatist is probably the greatest Indian writer of all time. As with most classical
Indian authors, little is known about kalidasa’s person or his historical relationships. His poems suggest that he was a
Brahman (priest). Many works are traditionally ascribed to the poet, but scholars have identified only six as genuine.
b. Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) The son of a Great Sage, Tagore is a Bengali poet and mystic who won the
Nobel Prize for Literature in 1913.The death of his wife and two children brought him years to sadness but this also
inspired some of his best poetry. Tagore is also gifted composer and a painter.
c. Kamala Markandaya (1924). Her works concern the struggles of contemporary Indians with conflicting Eastern
and Western values. A Brahman, she studied at Madras University then settled in England and married and
Englishman. In her fiction, Western values typically are viewed as modern and materialistic, and Indian values as
spiritual and traditional.
 Nectar in a Sieve. Her first novel and most popular work is about
an Indian peasant’s narrative of her difficult life.
d. R.K. Narayan (1906). One of the finest Indian authors of his generation writing in English. He briefly worked as a
teacher before deciding to devote himself fulltime to writing. All of Narayan’s works are set in the fictitious South
Indian town of Malgundi. They typically portray the peculiarities of human relationships and the ironies of Indian
daily life, in which modern urban existence clashes with ancient tradition. His style is graceful, marked by genial
humor, elegance, and simplicity.
e. Anita Desai (1937). An English-language Indian novelist and author of children’s books, she is considered India’s
premier imagist writer. She excelled in evoking character and mood through visual images. Most of her works reflect
Desei’s tragic view of life.
 Cry, the Peacock. Her novel addressing the theme of the suppression and oppression of Indian women.
 Clear Light of Day. This is a highly evocative portrait of two sisters caught in the lassitude of Indian life.
Considered her most successful work, shortlisted for the 1980 Booker Prize.
 Fir on the Mountain. This won her the Royal Society of Literature’s Winifred Holtby Memorial Prize.


Chinese literature reflects the political and social history of China and the impact of powerful religions that came from
within and outside the country. Its tradition goes back thousands of years and has often been inspired by philosophical
questions about the meaning of life, how to live ethically in society, and how to live in spiritual harmony with the natural
order of the universe.

1. Shang Dynasty (1600 B.C.). People practiced a religion based on the belief that nature was inhabited by many
powerful gods and spirits. Among the significant advances of this period were bronze working, decimal system, a
twelve-month calendar and a system of writing consisting 3,000 characters.
2. Chou Dynasty (1100 B.C. – 221 B.C.). The longest of all dynasties and throughout most of this period China
suffered from severe political disunity and upheaval. This era was also known as the Hundred Schools period
because of the many competing philosophers and teachers. Among the most influential include Lao Tzu, the
proponent of Taoism, and Confucius, the founder of Confucianism.
3. Ch’in Dynasty (221 B.C. – 207 B.C.). This is where China saw unification and the strengthening of central
government. Roads connecting all parts of the empire were built and the existing walls on the northern borders were
connected to form the Great Wall of China.
4. Han Dynasty (207 B.C. – A.D. 220) One of the most glorious eras of Chinese history. This period was marked by
the introduction of Buddhism from India.
5. T’ang Dynasty (A.D. 618 – 960) The Golden Age of Chinese civilization. Fine arts and literature flourished in this
period. Among the technological advances of this time were the invention of gun powder and the block printing.
6. Sung Dynasty (A.D. 960 – 1279). This period was characterized by delicacy and refinement although inferior in
literary arts but great in learning. The practice of Neo-Confucianism proliferated.

Philosophy and Religion

Chinese literature and all of Chinese culture has been profoundly influenced by three great schools of thought: Confucianism,
Taoism and Buddhism. Chinese religions are based on the perception of life as a process of continual change in which
opposing forces, such as heaven and earth or light and dark, balance one another. These opposites are symbolized by the Yin
and Yang. Yin, the passive and feminine force, counterbalances Yang, the active and masculine force, each contains a ‘seed’
of the other, as represented in the traditional yin-yang symbol.

a. Confucianism provides the Chinese with both a moral order and an order for the universe. It is not a religion but it
makes individuals aware of their place in the world and the behaviour appropriate to it. It also provides a political and
social philosophy.
Confucian ethics is humanist. The following are Confucian tenets:
1. jen or human heartedness are qualities or forms of behavior that set men above the rest of the lie on earth.
Also known as ren, it is the measure of individual character and such, is the goal of self-cultivation.
2. li refers to ritual, custom, propriety, and manner. A person of li is a good person.

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b. Taoism was illustrated by Lao Tzu during the Chou Dynasty. Taoist beliefs and influences are an important part of
classical Chinese culture. The “Tao” or “The Way” means the natural course that the world follows. To follow the
“Tao” or to go with the flow is both wisdom and happiness. For the Taoist, unhappiness comes form parting from the
“Tao” or from trying to flout it.
c. Buddhism was imported from India during the Han dynasty. Buddhist thought stresses the importance of ridding
oneself of earthly desires and of seeking ultimate peace and enlightenment through detachment. With its stress on
living ethically and its de-emphasis on material concerns, Buddhism appealed to both Confucians and Taoists.

Philosophical Works
a. The Analects (Lun Yu) is one of the four Confucian texts. The sayings range from brief statements to more
extended dialogues between Confucius and his students. The Analects instructs on moderation in all things through
moral education, the building of a harmonious family life and the development of virtues such as loyalty, obedience
and a sense of justice.
b. The Tao-Te Ching (Classic of the Way of Power) is believed to have been written between the 8th and 3rd centuries
B.C. It presents a way of life intended to restore harmony and tranquillity to a kingdom racked by widespread
c. Chuang Tzu is the philosophical work of Lao Tzu’s most important disciple, Chuan Tzu. Written in a witty,
imaginative style, this book consists of fables and anecdotes that teach the Taoist philosophy and questioned the
principles of Confucianism.

Literary Selections
a. The Book of Songs (Shih Ching), compiled around the 6th century B.C. is the oldest collection of Chinese poetry.
This collection consists of 305 poems, many of which were originally folk songs, focusing on such themes as
farming, love, and war.
b. The Book of Changes (I Ching) is one of the Five Classics of Confucian philosophy and has been primarily used
for divination.
c. Record of a Journey to the West is the foremost Chinese comic novel written about 1500-82 by the long-
anonymous Wu Chengen. The novel is based on the actual 7th-century pilgrimage of the Buddhist monk Xuanzang
(602-664) to India in search of sacred texts.
d. Dream of the Red Chamber is a novel by Cao Zhan thought to be semiautobiographical and generally considered
to be the greatest of all Chinese novels. It details the decline of the Jia family including 30 main characters and more
than 400 minor ones. The major focus is on young Baoyu, the gifted but obstinate heir of the clan.
e. The Injustice Done to Tou Ngo a play by Guan Han-Cheng, a Yuan dramatist, tells the story of the poisoning of
Old Chang by his own son but the conviction of Tou Ngo for the crime. The element of the fantastic is employed in
the appearance of Tou Ngo as a ghost defending herself in the trial and the falling of the snow in midsummer which
were the curse that Tou Ngo cast upon her death. The truth is revealed in the end the tragic heroine is vindicated.

Major Writers
a. Taoist Writers
 Chuang Tzu (4th century B.C.) was the most important early interpreter of the philosophy of Taoism. In his
stories, he appears as a quirky character who cares little for either public approval or material possessions.
 Lieh Tzu (4th century B.C.) was a Taoist teacher who had many philosophical differences with his forebears
Lao-Tzu and Chuan Tzu. He argued that the sequence of causes predetermines everything that happens,
including one’s choice of action.
 Lui An (172 – 122 B.C.). Taoist scholar, the grandson of the founder of the Han dynasty. His royal title was the
Prince of Haui-nan. Together with philosophers and under his patronage, he produced a collection of essays on
metaphysics, cosmology, politics, and conduct.
b. Ssu-ma Ch’ien (145 – 122 B.C.) was the greatest of China’s grand historians who dedicated himself to completing
the first history of China the Records of the Historian. His work covers almost three thousand years of Chinese
history in more than half a million written characters etched onto bamboo tablets.
c. Po Chu-I (772 – 846). He wrote many poems speaking bitterly against the social and economic problems that were
plaguing China.
d. Li Ch’ing-chao (A.D. 1084 – 1151) is regarded as China’s greatest woman poet and was also one of the most
liberated women of her day. Many of her poems composed in the tz’u form celebrate her happy marriage or express
her loneliness when her husband was away.
e. Chou-Shu-jen (1881 – 1936) has been called the Father of the modern Chinese short story because of his
introduction of Western techniques. He is also known as Lu Hsun whose stories deal with themes of social concern,
the problems of the poor, women and intellectuals.
f. Mao Tun is the pen name of Shen Yen-ping who is an exponent of revolutionary realism. He is the author of a half-
dozen novels, of which Midnight (1933) is considered to be his masterpiece.

Religious Traditions
Two major faiths were essential elements in the cultural foundations of Japanese society.
a. Shintoism or ‘the way of the gods,’ is the ancient religion that reveres in dwelling divine spirits called kami,
found in natural places and objects. For this reason natural scenes, such as waterfall, a gnarled tree, or a full
moon, inspired reverence in the Japanese people.
b. Zen Buddhism emphasized the importance of meditation, concentration, and self-discipline as the way to
enlightenment. Zen rejects the notion that salvation is attained outside of this life and this world. Instead, Zen
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disciples believe that one can attain personal tranquillity and insights into the true meaning of life through
rigorous physical and mental discipline.

Poetry is one of the oldest and most popular means of expression and communication in the Japanese culture. It was an
integral part of daily life in an ancient Japanese society, serving as a means through which anyone could chronicle
experiences and express emotions.

a. The Manyoshu or ‘Book of Ten Thousand Leaves’ is an anthology by poets from a wide range of social classes,
including the peasantry, the clergy, and the ruling class.
b. There are different poems according to set forms or structures:
 choka are poems that consist of alternate lines of five and seven syllables with an additional seven-syllable line at
the end. There is no limit to the number of lines which end with envoys, or pithy summations. These envoys
consist of 5-7-5-7-7 syllables that elaborate on or summarize the theme or central idea of the main poem.
 Tanka is the most prevalent verse form in the traditional Japanese literature. It consists of five lines of 5-7-5-7-7
syllables including at least one caesura, or pause. The tanka often tell a brief story or express a single thought with
the common subjects which are love and nature.
 Renga is a chain of interlocking tanka. Each tanka within a renga was divided into verses of 17 and 14 syllables
composed by different poets as it was fashionable for groups of poets to work together during the age of Japanese
 Hokku was the opening verse of a renga which developed into a distinct literary form known as the haiku. The
haiku consists of 3 lines of 5-7-5 syllable characterized by precision, simplicity, and suggestiveness. Almost all
haiku include a kigo or seasonal words such as snow or cherry blossom that indicated the time of year being

Prose appeared in the early part of 8th century focusing on the Japanese history.
 The Tale of Genji by Lady Murasaki Shikibu, a work of tremendous length and complexity, is considered to be
the world’s first true novel. It traces the life of a gifted and charming prince.
 The Pillow Book by Sei Shonagon, represents a unique form of the diary genre. It contains of vivid sketches of
people and place, shy anecdotes and witticisms, snatches of poetry, and 164 lists on court life during the Heian
 Essays in Idleness by Yoshida Kenko was written during the age of feudalism. It is a loosely organized collection
of insights, reflections, and observations, written during the 14th century.

Major Writers
a. Seami Motokiyo. At age 20 not long after his father’s death, he took over his father’s acting school and began to
write plays.
b. The Haiku Poets
 Matsuo Basho (1644–1694) is regarded as the greatest Haiku poet. He was born into a samurai family and began
writing poems at an early age. Basho means banana plant, a gift given him to which he became deeply attached.
 Yosa Buson (1716 – 1783) is regarded as the second-greatest haiku poet. He lived in Kyoto throughout most of
his life and was one of the finest painters of his time. Buson presents a romantic view of the Japanese landscape,
vividly capturing the wonder and mystery of nature.
c. Yasumari Kawabata (1899 – 1972) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1968. Three of his best novels are Snow
Country, Thousand Cranes, and Sound of the Mountains. He committed suicide shortly after the suicide of his
friend Mishima.
d. Junichiro Tanizaki (1886 – 1965) is a major novelist whose writing is characterized by eroticism and ironic wit. His
earliest stories were like those of Edgar Allan Poe’s but he later turned toward the exploration of more traditional
Japanese ideals of beauty. Among his works are Some Prefer Nettles, The Makioka Sisters, Diary of a Mad Old
e. Yukio Mishima (1925 – 1970) is the pen name of Kimitake Hiraoka, a prolific writer who is regarded as many
writers as the most important Japanese novelist of the 20th century. His highly acclaimed first novel, Confessions of
a Mask is party autobiographical work that describes with stylistic brilliance a homosexual who must mask his
sexual orientation. Mishima committed seppuku (ritual disembowelment).

1. The Rise of Africa’s Great Civilization. Between 751 and 664 B.C. the kingdom of Kush at the southern end of the
Nile River gained strength and prominence succeeding the New Kingdom of Egyptian Civilization. Smaller
civilization around the edges of the Sahara also existed among them the Fasa of the northern Sudan, whose deeds are
recalled by the Soninka oral epic, The Daust
a. Aksum (3rd century A.D.), a rich kingdom in eastern Africa arose in what is now Ethiopia. It served as the center
of a trade route and developed its own writing system.
b. The Kingdom of Old Ghana (A.D. 300) the first of great civilization in western Africa succeeded by the empires
of Old Mali and Songhai. The legendary city of Timbuktu was a center of trade in both the Mali and Songhai
c. New cultures sprung up throughout the South: Luba and Malawi empires in central Africa, the two Congo
kingdoms, the Swahili culture of eastern Africa, the kingdom of Old Zimbabwe, and the Zulu nation near the
southern tip of the continent.

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d. Africa’s Golden Age (between A.D. 300 and A.D. 1600) marked the time when sculpture, music, metalwork,
textiles, and oral literature flourished.
e. Foreign influences came in the 4th century.
 The Roman Empire had proclaimed Christianity as its state religion and taken control of the entire northern
coast of Africa including Egypt.
 Around 700 A.D. Islam, the religion of Mohammed, was introduced into Africa as well as the Arabic writing
system. Old mali, Somali and other eastern African nations were largely Muslim.
 European powers created colonized countries in the late 1800s. Social and political chaos reigned as
traditional African nations were either split apart by European colonizers or joined with incompatible
 Mid-1900s marked the independence and rebirth of traditional cultures written in African languages.

Negritude, which means literally ‘blackness,’ is the literary movement of the 1030s-1950s that began among French-
speaking African and Caribbean writers living in Paris as a protest against French colonial rule and the policy of assimilation.
Its leading figure was Leopold Sedar Senghor (1st president of the republic of Senegal in 1960), who along with Aime Cesaire
from Martinique and Leo Damas from French Guina, began to examine Western values critically and to reassess African
culture. The movement largely faded in the early 1960s when its political and cultural objectives had been achieved in most
African countries. The basic ideas behind Negritude include:
 Africans must look to their own cultural heritage to determine the values and traditions that are most useful in the
modern world.
 Committed writers should use African subject matter and poetic traditions and should excite a desire for political
 Negritude itself encompasses the whole of African cultural, economic, social, and political values.
 The value and dignity of African traditions and peoples must be asserted.

African Poetry
a. Paris in the Snow swings between assimilation of French, European culture or negritude, intensified by the poet’s
catholic piety.
b. Totem by Leopold Senghor shows the eternal linkage of the living with the dead.
c. Letters to Martha by Dennis Brutus is the poet’s most famous collection that speaks of the humiliation, the
despondency, the indignity of prison life.
d. Train Journey by Dennis Brutus reflects the poet’s social commitment, as he reacts to the poverty around him
amidst material progress especially and acutely felt by the innocent victims, the children.
e. Africa by David Diop is a poem that achieves its impact by a series of climactic sentences and rhetorical questions.

a. The Houseboy by Ferdinand Oyono points out the disillusionment of Toundi, a boy who leaves his parents
maltreatment to enlist his services as an acolyte to a foreign missionary.
b. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe depicts a vivid picture of Africa before the colonization by the British. The
title is an epigraph from Yeats’ The Second Coming: ‘things fall apart/the center cannot hold/ mere anarchy is loosed
upon the world.
c. No Longer at Ease by Chinua Achebe is a sequel to Things Fall Apart and the title of which is alluded to Elliot’s
The Journey of the Magi: ‘We returned to our places, these kingdoms,/ But no longer at ease here, in the old
d. The Poor Christ of Bombay by Mongo Beti begins en medias res and exposes the inhumanity of colonialism. The
novel tells of Fr. Drumont’s disillusionment after the discovery of the degradation of the native women betrothed, but
forced to work like slaves in the sixa.
e. The River Between by James Ngugi shows the clash of traditional values and contemporary ethics and mores.
f. Heirs to the Past by Driss Chraili is an allegorical, parable-like novel. After 16 years of absence, the anti-hero Driss
Ferdi returns to Morocco for his father’s funeral. The Signeur leaves his legacy via a tape recorder in which he tells
the family members his last will and testament.
g. A Few Days and Few Nights by Mbella Sonne Dipoko deals with racial prejudice. In the novel originally written in
French, a Cameroonian scholar studying in France is torn between the love of a Swedish girl and a Parisienne show
father owns a business establishment in Africa.
h. The Interpreters by Wole Soyinka is about a group of young intellectuals who function as artists in their talks with
one another as they try to place themselves in the context of the world abouth them.

Major Writers
a. Leopold Sedar Senghor (1960) is a poet and statesman who was confounder of the Negritude movement in African
art and literature. His works include: Songs of Shadow, Black Offerings, Major Elegies, Poetical Work. He
became president of Senegal in 1960.
b. Okot P’Bitek (1930-1982) was born in Uganda during the British domination and was embodied in a contrast of
cultures. Among his works are: Song of Lawino, Song of Ocol, African Religions and Western Scholarship,
Religion of the Central Luo, Horn of My Love.
c. Wole Soyinka (1934) is a Nigerian Playwright, poet, novelist, and critic who was the first black African to be
awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. Among his works: plays- A Dance of the Forests, The Lion and the
Jewel, The Trials of Brother Jero; novels – The Interpreters, Season of Anomy; poems – Idanre and Other
Poems, Poems from Prison, A Shuttle in the Crypt, Mandela’s Earth and Other Poems.

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d. Chinua Achebe (1930) is a prominent Igbo novelist acclaimed for his unsentimental depictions of the social and
psychological disorientation accompanying the imposition of Western customs and values upon traditional African
society. His particular concern was with emergent Africa at its moments of crisis. His works include, Things Fall
Apart, Arrow of God, No Longer at ease, A Man of the People, Anthills of Savanah.
e. Nadine Gordimer (1923) is a South African novelist and short story writer whose major theme was exile and
alienation. She received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991. Her works include, The Soft Voice of the Serpent,
Burger’s Daughter, July’s People, A Sport of Nature, My Son’s Story.
f. Bessie Head (1937-1986) described the contradictions and shortcomings of pre- and postcolonial African society in
morally didactic novels and stories. She suffered rejection and alienation from an early age being born of an illegal
union between her white mother and black father. Her works include, When Rain Clouds Gather, A Question of
Power, The Collector of treasures, Serowe.
g. Barbara Kimenye (1940) wrote twelve books on children’s stories known as the Moses series which are now
standard reading fare for African school children. Among her works are: Kalasandra Revisited, The Smugglers,
The money game.

• Periods of Roman Literature:
silver age (poets improved, tech. skills flourished)
golden age (Latin lit. reached its fullest splendor in literature)
middle age (reign of Emp. Macus Aurelius who wrote meditations and stoic philosophy)
renaissance (birth of humanism & Revival)
• Spanish Literature
• Medieval period (2 major poetic forms: minstrel’s mode used in epic, and cleric’s mode used in rhymed quatrains)
• renaissance (the rebirth of vernacular literature)

Golden age - (the birth of the 4 literary giants: Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, Juan Ruiz de Alarcon y Mendoza, and Pedro
Calderon dela Barca.

• Anglo-Saxon Period - oral lit. about customs, pagan beliefs, and rituals.
• Medieval period - king Arthur’s time
• Elizabethan - the most splendid in literature history; vitality & richness & the flowering of poetry.
• 17th Century or Puritan - Civil War, the Black Plague, & the great fire in London.
• Romantic Period - golden age of lyric poetry
• Victorian Period - energetic expansion, imperial ambition, and profound optimism about the future of England.
• 20th Century - the age of novels & the improved craft of masters in literature.

History and Anthology: American Literature

 American literature is the literature produced in American English by American citizens.
 Basic qualities of American Writers:
- Independent, individualistic, critical, innovative, humorous
 How to define American Literature
- Analytical approach, Thematic approach, Historical approach

Part I. The Literature of Colonial America

A. The native American and their culture– Indians

B. The historical background of the colonial Time
C. Christopher Columbus discovered the American continent in 1491.
D. Captain Christopher Newport reached Virginia in 1607.
E. Puritans came the New England area, by Mayflower in 1619.
F. The first settlement was established in Plymouth in 1620.

Part II. The Literature of Reason and revolution

A. Industrial Revolution: spurred the economy in American colonies.

B. Independence War: the industrial growth led to intense strain with Britain. The British government tried to suppress
their growth economically, and ruled them from abroad politically and levied heavy tax on them. These aroused bitter
resentment in colonies.
C. Spiritual life of the colonies—Enlightenment.
D. Philosophical and intellectual movement.
E. Advocated reason or rationality, the scientific method, equality and human beings’ ability to perfect themselves and
their society.
F. Agreed on faith in human rationality and existence of discoverable and universally valid principles governing human
beings, nature and society.
G. Opposed intolerance, restraint, spiritual authority and revealed religion
H. Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Philip Freneau
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Part III. The Literature of Romanticism

A. Romanticism
B. Transcendentalism
C. Ralph Waldo Emerson, Washington Irving, Edgar Allan Poe, Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)


1. Geoffrey Chaucer- Canterbury Tales
2. Dante Alighieri- The Divine Comedy
3. Victor Hugo- Hunchback of Notre Dame and Les Miserables
4. Herman Hesse-Siddhatra
5. Charles Dickens- Tale of Two Cities
6. Emily Bronte- Wuthering Heights
7. Virginia Wolf- Mrs. Dallaway
8. D H Lawrence- Sons and Lovers
9. Isabel Allende- House of the Spirit
10. Gabriel Garcia Marquez- One Hundred Years of Solitude

Benjamin Franklin
1. The only good writer of the colonial period.
2. Printer, enlightener, inventor, scientist, statesman, diplomat
3. Aid Jefferson in writing The Declaration of Independence.
4. Seeking help from France in American Independent War.

Why is Franklin admired and read widely?

1. He is a typical American, model of the self-made man, a cultural hero whose life exemplified the American dream of
the poor boy who made good.
2. He stressed the importance of working hard to make money, happiness depending in the first place on economic
success and optimistically believed that every American could do so.
3. He was convinced that no man could be virtuous or happy unless he did his best to improve the life of his society and
his own life.

Why say Franklin is the representative of American Enlightenment

1. He believed in reason or rationality, the scientific method, equality and human beings’ ability to perfect themselves
and their society.
2. He opposed intolerance, restraint, spiritual authority and revealed religion.
3. He favoured the education. Self-education, educating and disseminating knowledge among people by his newspaper
and Autobiography, establishing learning club, college and library.
4. He favoured freedom of thoughts. He set up the ideas of democracy in the USA.

Thomas Paine
1. Propagandist, pamphleteer, a master of persuasion who understands the power of language to move a man to action.

Main works:
1. The American Crisis
2. Common Sense
3. The rights of man
4. The Age of Reason

Study of the Selected Part

1. In what sense does Paine use the verb “try” in the first sentence of the essay?
2. Paine used the word in the sense of “test to the limit”, “subject to great hardships”.
3. To what 3 types of criminal does Paine indirectly compare George III? What is Paine’s attitude toward the British
4. What does the writer think of the Tories?
5. What does Paine mean by an offensive war? What reasons does he give for not supporting such a war?
6. What kind of war does he believe the American revolution to be?
7. How do you understand the title of the essay?

Thomas Jefferson
1. Enlightener, planter, aristocrat, lawyer, a symbol of American democracy.
2. Man of many talents: scientist, inventor, musician, linguist, architect, diplomat and writer.
3. Political Career: He served his country as Minister to France(1784-1789), Secretary of State(1789-1793), Vice
President(1791-1801) and third President(1801-1809).
4. Thoughts: Jeffersonian Democracy, which includes faith in the individual and common man, dislike an overly strong
government, and emphasis on the importance of education and on agrarianism and land ownership as they brought

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responsibility and true judgment. Politically, he is considered the father of the democratic spirit in his country. The
society he thought of as ideal was one where landowning farmers could live under as little government as possible.
5. Style: dignity, flexibility, clarity, command of generalization

Philip Freneau

1. Father of American Poetry

2. Teacher, political journalist, seaman, humanitarian, polemist, propagandist, satirist, loyal follower of Jefferson

Main Works:
1. The Rising Glory of America (1772)
2. The British Prison Ship (1781)
3. The Wild Honey Suckle (1786)
4. The Indian Burying Ground (1788)

The Wild Honey Suckle

1. It is a deistic celebration of nature, romantic use of simple nature imagery, inspired by themes of death and
transience. Much of the beauty of the poem lies in the sounds of the words and the effects created through changes in
2. Flower vs Human Being, Duration vs Life
3. Show us how to live a useful life.
4. In a revolution, one should not do nothing for his country for fear of being hurt, harmed and destroyed.

Part III. The Literature of Romanticism

1. Historical Introduction
 Washington Irving
 James Fenimore Cooper
 William Cullen Bryant
 Edgar Allan Poe
 Ralph Waldo Emerson
 Henry David Thoreau
 Nathaniel Hawthorne
 Herman Melville
 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

2. Stability, Prosperity, Freedom

3. Geographically, America expanded its frontier. Economically, it began the industrialization and urbanization.
Politically, people enjoyed more freedom. Culturally, cultural business prospered.
4. Literary Ideas: Romanticism and Transcendentalism

Two stages; pre-romanticism (1770s-1830)
post-romanticism (1830-60,65-75)

Rise of Romanticism: appeared in England in the 18th century. Reaction against the prevailing neoclassical spirit and
rationalism during the Age of Reason.
 Moral enthusiasm: passion, emotion, fancy and imagination.
 Faith in the value of individualism and intuitive perception: display personalities, express feelings and ideas, stress
men’s rights for freedom and happiness. Human nature is of good will. Man can know the world through his own
 Nature was a source of goodness and man’s societies a source of corruption.
 The literary works of romanticism mostly reflected the fantastic and thrilling stories taking place long ago and far
away, rich in mystic color. The romantic had a persistent interest in the primitive literature, in which he found
inspiration of various kind.
 The romantic showed a profound admiration and love for nature. The beauty and perfection of nature could produce
in him unspeakable joy and exaltation.

 Appeared in 1830, marked the maturity of American romanticism and the first renaissance in the American literary
 The term was derived from the Latin verb transcendere: to rise above , to pass beyond the limits.
 Rise of Transcendentalism: the product of combination of foreign influence (German idealistic philosopher, neo-
Platonism, Oriental mysticism, Confucius and Mencius) and American native Puritan tradition.

Washington Irving
1. Father of American Short Stories
2. First American author to make a living by his pen, first great prose stylist of American romanticism,.
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3. author of the first American short stories and familiar essays.
4. the first American author of imaginative literature to achieve international distinction
5. Style: simplicity, lucidity, poise and ease flow, discursive and leisurely, slow, graceful presentation, careful phrases
and cadences.
6. Significance: his literary innovations
 author of first modern American short stories and the first great American juvenile literature. It was him who
introduced the familiar essay from Europe to America.
 He ranked among the first of the modern men of letters to write history and biography as literary
 He was the leaders of the world-wide Romantic Movement.
 His humor, which gave an impetus to the growth and popularity of American indigenous humor. His humor
was always well-meaning, mild and prone to be accepted.
 Irving’s genial writing also improved the feeling of American toward the British.
 The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: tells a miraculous story about the unsuccessful love affair of Ichabod Crane,
a country teacher, which is combined with the legend of a headless horseman. The two stories share
legendary elements, which the critics either interpret as an expression of the author’s conservative attitude
toward the American Revolution and his nostalgia for the life before the Revolution, or doubt for their

Edgar Allan Poe

1. Poet, editor, critic, first writer of the detective story, writer of fiction, a pioneer in poetic and fictional techniques
2. Life story: disastrous
3. Artistic principles

His Artistic Theories

1. Poe argued for the creation of beauty and intensity of emotion, against the didactic motive for literature.
2. Poe felt that literature should have no social function or responsibility but should be an expression of the isolated
3. Poe thought that the artist should be concerned solely with beauty, of imagination. The real world is cruel, ugly and
fast into decaying. The artist’s life is lonely, painful and hopeless. The only happiness arose out of the creation and
contemplation of beauty.
4. A good fiction should only tells one event, which can be finished once.
5. Fiction should stimulate readers and impress them deeply. It should have a consistent effect throughout the whole
6. He showed in his fiction the impulse to self-destruction, the fascination with horrible catastrophe, whimsical and
abnormal psychology.
7. He depicted the inner world or psychology of his characters.

To Helen
1. Although the poem is about a real person , Poe addressed it to Helen, why might he have done this?
2. In the final stanza, Helen is addressed as Psyche the Greek word for “ breath” or “soul”. How do you reconcile this
with the earlier references to Helen of Troy, whose legendary beauty led to the Trojan War?
3. Beauty---to truth---to soul
4. Note that all three stanzas end with a reference to a place---native shore, Greece and Rome, and Holy land. How are
these related to each other? To the meaning of the poem as a whole?
5. Beauty is truth and leads to spiritual oneness and artistic integrity
6. Lines written in passionate boyhood to the first purely and ideal woman in my soul.

Poe’s The Raven

1. it symbolizes disaster and misfortune.
2. it may symbolize the soul of the radiant maiden, the “lost Lenore.”
3. it may symbolize the sub-consciousness of the poet.
4. it is the symbol of modern reality.

Annabel Lee
Poe’ s Theories on Poetry
1. His poetry expresses the same deep hopelessness and rejection of the world as his prose, but in a different way.
2. He avoids the intrusion of ugliness and tries to create a vision of beauty and a melodious sound. The basic tone is
3. The function f poetry is not to summarize and interpret earthly experience, but to create a mood in which the soul
soars toward supernal beauty.
4. The creation of work of art requires the utmost concentration and unity, as well as the most scrupulous use of words.

Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

1. Romantic novelist, short-story writer.
2. Advanced the art of short story and gave to the form qualities that are uniquely American.
3. First great American writer of fiction to work in the moralistic tradition. Combined the American romanticism with
puritan moralism

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Romances: an imaginative fictional projection of moral life

1. Contents: sensational material, poisoning, murder, adultery, crime.

2. Methods: the New England Past, theocratic society, puritan, witchcraft, the Indian life, symbolic and allegorical
3. Themes: explore the human soul/ nature of man, deal with moral or ethical problems, study the effects of sin on man.
4. Purpose: to show the inner world of man is the source of evil in society, to criticize the present age.

Reasons for Hawthorn’s creation

1. His exploration of the soul resulted from his skeptical attitude toward the social reality and from his ambition to
probe into the nature of man.
2. His selection of themes and skillful use of the historical materials resulted from his personal life and family history.
reclusion, judge ancestor.
3. His concentration on the human mind and character on conscious and unconscious desires, is an outgrowth of the
Puritan emphasis on the individual conscience. He scolded the harshness of Puritans, yet took the Puritanism as his
living criteria. Freedom of will, a conscious choice between good and evil.

Hawthorne’s Style
1. Rich imagination, well-woven structure, psychological analysis, various symbols, delicate imageries, ambiguity,
2. Wide and well-controlled vocabulary, formal words with pleasant sound, long and complex sentences, fresh and
effective metaphors and similes, summarized historical narrative, but links scenes dramatically.

The Scarlet Letter (1850)

1. The Scarlet Letter is a complex story of guilt/sin, its moral, emotional and psychological effects on various persons,
and how deliverance is obtained for some of them.
2. In the fiction, Hawthorne approached the question of evil more profoundly. He considered the effect on an
individual’s character of enforced penance, of hypocrisy, and of hatred.

What’s in, how to deal with, Hawthorne’s attitudes

 Hester: disloyalty, betrayal, deception, sexual desire, adultery. Face, correct, redeem, purify. Praise, content,
 Dimmesdale: adultery, cowardice, hypocrisy, dishonesty, selfishness, too coward to confess, tortured by his
conscience. Sympathetic, disfavor his hesitation, indecisiveness and cowardice.
 Chillingworth: revenge. Tortured by the desire of revenge, twisted and reduced to nothing. disgusted, think he
committed greater crime.

Puritanism in the Scarlet Letter

1. Puritan background: setting, events, characters, thoughts, behaviors.
2. Puritan doctrines: original sin, total depravity, predestination, limited atonement.
3. The novel expresses Hawthorne’s attitudes toward Puritanism. Like puritans who concerned themselves with the
original sin and developed it into their beliefs, Hawthorne concerns the novel with the same theme, and tries to
establish his doctrines around it.

 Through challenging Puritanism, Hawthorne establishes his own “Puritanism”:

1. Their religious doctrines. Conclusion: he believes in men’s ability to redeem themselves or advocates
2. Their rigid, inhuman attitude toward life and enjoyment: suppress men’s all desires, live a hard,
disciplined and ascetic life, discriminate men’s rights for happiness. Conclusion: stress men’s rights and
desires for pleasure.
3. Their hypocrisy: clergymen commit crimes against their preaching and beliefs.

Through challenging Puritanism, Hawthorne aims to:

1. Explore the source of evils: unreasonable and inhuman social system; men’s inner world, defects in men’s nature:
strong desire, dishonesty, cowardice, revenge.
2. Explore the influences on different characters:
3. To brave men: gain moral rebirth, redeem their sin, win respect/ love again.
4. To coward men: torment of conscience, suffer in hell fire.
5. To vicious and vengeful men: reduce them to demons, make them deteriorated, malicious, mean.
6. Explore ways of redeeming sin: brave to confess and face it, correct it through love, devotion, generosity and

Henry Wordsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

 His life: born in Portland, Maine, studied at Bowdoin College, published his poems at the age of 13, went to
Europe to study language, after 4 years and returned to be a professor in Bowein College. In his poems, the themes
like love of nature, love for the past, his poems is famous for spiritual aspiration, simple piety, homely affection, love
of beauty, refined of thought and manners. He always took active attitude towards life. He adopted European ideas in
American subject, and always in European styles. In his lyrics he drew on the techniques of European poetry as well
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as on his own native creativity, and acquired a mastery of rhyme and rhythm. The ideas he expressed are generally
simple ones and his techniques display them to advantage. He expressed his ideas musically and powerfully. His
works are highly spiritual. He emphasized the mysteries of birth, death, and love. Most of his works are simple and
easily read so that even children can understand them.

A psalm of Life
1. It was first published in Voices of the Night
2. In the September edition of New York Monthly in 1839. It is very influential in China, because it is said to be the
first English poem translated into chinese.
3. The poem was written in 1838 when Longfellow was struck with great dismay : his wife died in 1835, and his
courtship of a young woman was unrequited. However, despite all the frustrations, Longfellow tried to encourage
himself by writing a piece of optimistic word
4. The relationship of life and death is a constant theme for poets. He expresses his pertinent interpretation to that by
warning us that though life is hard and everybody must die, time flies and life is short, yet, human beings ought to be
hold “to act,” to face the reality straightly so as to make otherwise meaningless life significant.
5. The poem consists of 9 stanzas in trochaic tetrameters. It is rhymed “abab.”


 Philippine literature in English was a consequence of American colonial rule. The Treaty of Paris signed in 1898
between the US and Spain led to the establishment of a public school system which enforced English as the medium
of instruction.

Early Literary Productions

 “Dead Stars” by Paz Marquez Benitez. It appeared in the Philippine Herald on September 20, 1925 and was quickly
recognized as one of the best short stories yet written by a Filipino.
 Box of Ashes and other Stories (1925) by Zoilo M. Galang. It was the first collection of short stories in book form.
 Filipino Love Stories (1927) edited by Paz Marquez Benitez. The first anthology of short stories.
 The Stealer of Hearts and Other Stories (1927) edited by Jose Villa Panganiban
 Philippine Short Stories: The best 25 Stories of 1928 (1928) was compiled by Jose Garcia Villa.
 Footnote to Youth and Other Tales (1933) Jose Garcia Villa’s collection published by Scribner’s.

 A Child of Sorrow (1921) is the first novel in English written by Zoilo M. Galang. It is an extremely sentimental
romance in which the lover, consumed by gnawing sadness, soon followed his beloved to the grave.
 The Filipino Rebel (1929) by Maximo Kalaw. It is about an ailing revolutionary Juanito who reneges on his promise
to marry the barrio lass Josefa by marrying instead a rich man’s daughter Leonor for his political ambition.
 Without Seeing the Dawn (1947) by Stevan Javellan. The first novel written by a Filipino after World War II. It is
divided into two books, namely “Day” and “Night”, symbolizing a saga of love and hate; of faith and despair; a story
of a woman torn between the love of her husband and obedience to deeply engrained native customs and social
 The United (1951) is written by Carlos P. Romulo who had won the Pulitzer Prize in Journalism. The novel tells the
story of Major MacKenna, a WWII veteran, who rejects reconciliation with his millionaire father and refuses to
marry his fiancée Julia, a daughter of the New York Chronicle Publisher.
 The Woman Who Had Two Navels (1960) Nick Joaquin’s first novel, which is an expansion of a successful story
with the same title. This novel portrays a woman named Connie Escobar as having two cultural antecedents.

 Alfon, Estrella – considered to be the most respected Filipino woman fictionist in prewar days. Her collection of
short stories won a prize in the Commonwealth Literary Contests in 1940. In drama, she bagged the major prizes of
the Arena Theatre Playwriting Contest. Seventeen of her stories have been published in Magnificence and Other
Stories (1960). She died in 1983.
 Ayala, Tita Lacambra – A prolific writer of short stories, poems, and “juveniles”, she was columnist of Weekly
Women Magazine and feature writer for the Sunday Times Magazine. She is famous for her poems “Sunflower” and
“Cactus” which appeared in her collected volume entitled Sunflower Poems (1960). Her other collection is Ordinary
Poems (1967)
 Benitez, Francisco – He wrote the essay “What is an educated Filipino?” He is considered one of the notable figures
in Philippine education as he founded the National Federation of Filipino Teachers, the UP College of Education, and
the Philippine Journal of Education which he also edited.
 Benitez, Paz Marquez – She was the editor of the Woman’s Journal, the first feminine literary magazine in English
published in the Philippines. Some of her famous stories include “Dead Stars”, “Stepping Stones”, and “Half Life.”
“Dead Stars” published in 1923 was considered the first successful Filipino modern short story in English.
 Bulosan, Carlos – He is famous for his autobiographical novel America Is in the Heart (1946) which mirrors
Filipinos’ disillusionment of the great American dream (He went to the US during the Great Depression). Bulosan
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has also written a collection of humorous stories The Laughter of My Father (1944) and a volume of poetry The
Voice of Bataan (1943). His other novel is The Power of the People about the HUKBALAHAP.
 Cordero-Fernando, Gilda – Her short stories won two Palanca Awards and two Free press Awards. “People in the
War,” a story that tests family devotion during the war, and “The Visitation of the Gods,” that shows the ill agrarian
society from the perspective of an English schoolteacher, both included in the collection The Butcher, The Baker, and
the Candlestick Maker.
 Daguio, Amador – A pot, novelist, and teacher. He won various college and national magazine awards for his poetry
and fiction. He is famous for his story, “The Wedding dance.”
 Jose, Francisco Sionil – He is famous for his Rosales tetralogy: The Pretenders (1962), Tree (1978), My Brother,
My Executioner (1979), Mass (1882), and Poon (1985). A National Artist for Literature, he was much earlier
conferred the Ramon Magsaysay Award in Journalism, Literature and Creative Writing.
 Joaquin, Nick – wrote articles under pseudonym Quijano de Manila. His nove The Woman Who Had Two Navels
(1961) won the Stonehill Annual Fellowship for Filipino novel in English. A National Artist for Literature, he
received the Magsaysay Award in 1997. He died in 2004.
 Lumbera, Bienvenido – A multi-awarded author, film critic, and literary historian and scholar, Lumbera has
published Revaluation (1985), Tagalog Poetry 1570-1898 (1985), Abot-Tanaw (1987), Likhang Dila, Likhang Diwa
(1993), Writing the Nation/Pag-akda ng Bansa (2000). He received the Magsaysay Award in 1993.
 Polotan-Tuvera, Kerima – A prolific writer who used the penname Patricia S. Torres. Her story ‘The Virgin’ won
first prizes in the Palanca and the Free Press. Her novel The Hand of the Enemy (1962) won the Stonehill Award for
Filipino novel in English.
 Santos, Bienvenido – A short story writer and poet, his writings depict the loneliness and disillustionment of
Filipinos in a strange and alien land. Some of his works include: novels, The Volcano (1965) and Villa Magdalena
(1965), The Man Who (Thought He) Looked Like Robert Taylor, The Praying Man (1982); short story collection, You
Lovely People (1955), Brother My Brother (1960), The Day the Dancers Came, Scent of Apples (1981); and, poetry,
Wounded Stag and Other Poems (1956).
 Tinio, Rolando – He emerged a “new” poet in 1965 with the Bagay Movement that fused English and Tagalog
languages in writing as is found in “Valediction sa Hillcrest.” His published works include Palanca prize short plays,
It’s April, What Are We Doing Here?, A Life in the Slums, the Boxes and Claudia and Her Mother.
 Villa , Jose Garcia - He has won international fame as short story writer and poet. His erotic poems “Man Songs”
caused his suspension from UP in 1929. He introduced modern poetry to the country and was a leading exponent of
“art for art’s sake.” He had experimented on comma poems, and devised “inverse consonance.” He became the first
National Artist for Literature with Amado V. Hernandez in 1973.

Literature Testing
It is openly believed that the literature classes should not be tested or should result to examination, this is mostly based on the
pretext that literature aims for the appreciation of the literatures of the world and the human capacity to showcase world
conditions and truths without regard to boundaries, i.e. space and time. However, the aim of literature testing is to
institutionalize certain concepts and facts which are part of the literary learning and to direct attention to the relatively more
important literary skill. (Longman and Carter, 1987)

Testing literature has been influence by theories of reading, literary theories and criticism, and teaching styles.

Questions fall into two main categories:

1. questions that do not require contact with the text
2. questions that do require contact with the text.

Literature tests are categorized into two:

1. tests of literary information
2. tests of literary interpretation.

Steps in writing the Literature Test

11. Identifying the context – learning context , language level, role of literature, profile of the language course, profile of
the literature course, role of the test, profile of the test, the test writing context
12. Writing the test- identifying the target competence, planning the over-all shape of the test.
13. Selecting texts – seen texts vs. unseen texts
14. Grouping skills – skills for prepared texts and for unseen texts
15. Matching texts to tasks- tasks with prepared texts
16. Writing test items – discrete point, integrative, task oriented, essay type- open ended tests
17. Clarifying marking criteria

Criteria for the Effective Literature Test

1. What or who is the role model of literary competence: the literary scholar, poet, appreciative reader, culturally
informed reader, competent language user or others?
2. What kinds of skills or knowledge would be demonstrated by the target competence? What is expected of the
students to do successfully?
3. How are these areas of skills or knowledge measured?
4. What are the criteria for selecting the texts for the test?
5. What is the relationship of the skill being tested to what the test measures.

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What is a good literature test?
A good literature test...
 Measures what it aims to measure.
 Cover a balance and appropriate sample areas that have been taught and not random areas or texts that leave the
success of an examinee’s performance to chance.
 Meet the expectations of the teacher and the examiner.
 Ensure that learners are familiar with texts used.
 Provide a balance of question types, content , and skills areas so that rounded profile of each examinee can be
gleaned from the test,
 Set texts and tasks which are feasible within the allotted time.

Guidelines for Selecting Texts for the Literature Test

 The text may either be seen (text which the examinee has previously read) or unseen
(text which the examinee is reading for the first time in the test)
 The text may either be full-length or extracts.
 The texts should exemplify examples of each genre – poem, essay, short story, novel, and drama.
 The chosen texts should be representative of the chosen themes, topics, and issues.
 The texts should match the cognitive level of the examinees.
 The texts should be long enough to generate meaningful activity, but short enough to be practical
for a timed activity.

What does a literature test measure?

1. Literary Information - knowledge of literary terms; literary concepts; elements and conventions of each literary genre;
figures of speech; kinds of short stories/novels
 Literary Terms – epic, sonnet, tragedy, comedy, parody, tone, atmosphere, ode, elegy, irony, flashback, flashforward,
denouement, climax, meter, rhyme, couplet
 Literary concepts – magic realism, stream of consciousness, symbolism, realism, deconstruction
 Figures of speech – simile, metaphor, metonymy, synecdoche, oxymoron
 Elements of each literary genre – setting, point of view, theme, stanza, stage directions
 Kinds of short story/novels - epistolary, bildungsroman, picaresque, novel of manners, short story of atmosphere, of
character, of plot
 Rhetorical devices – onomatopoeia , alliteration, assonance, anaphora, cataphora

2. Literary interpretation- explain the use of symbol; how an author presents the theme, explain the figures of speech,
point out the atmosphere; and how it was established.
 Interpreting symbols – dead stars, the pearl, hills like white elephants, the raven
 Interpreting theme – man’s capability to be steadfast, time is fleeting, death is inevitable, man’s inhumanity to
 Interpreting character – physical and spiritual traits, behavior and speech, internal conflict, reaction and action
towards others
 Interpreting point of view – who tells the story, how many story tellers are there?
 Interpreting setting – where and when the story is set, dreadful, ugly, cold, bleak remote settings
 Interpreting conflicts – man vs. The society, nature, himself/herself
 Interpreting style – use of episodes, use of incomplete sentences, use of lower case letters
 Interpreting tone – authoritative, humbling, unassuming, proud, confident, defiant

Sample Literature Test Items

A. Literary Terms

1. It is an object that stands for or represents an idea or belief.

a. symbol c. foil
b. imagery d. figure

2. A long narrative poem which tells of the adventure of a noble hero who represents the ideals of his race or country.

a. ballad c. epic
b. metrical tale d. metrical romance

3. It is a type of a novel which literally means a “novel with a key”

a. bildungsroman c. novel of manners

b. roman-a-clef d. epistolary novel

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4. Which element of the short story is exemplified by this excerpt?

The hills across the valley of the Ebro were long and white. On this side there
was no shade and no trees and the station was between two lines of rails in the
sun. Close against the side of the station there was warm shadow of the building
and a curtain, made of strings of bamboo beads, hung across the open door into
the bar.
- Hills like white elephants

a. setting c. theme
b. point of view d. Plot

B. Literary Interpretation

After reading the poem, answer the following questions.

Because I could not stop for death
1 Because I could not stop for death
2 He kindly stopped for me
3 The carriage held but just ourselves-
4 And immortality
- Emily Dickinson

1. What figure of speech was evident in line 2?

a. simile c. personification
b. metaphor d. metonymy

2. “Ourselves” in line 3 refers to

a. death and the addressee c. Death and life
b. death and the persona d. Death and immortality


1 excuse the cactus

2 thirsting the sill
3 excuse its quills
4 stuck out:
5 they’re only an attempt
6 at self-defense.
7 See how it bleeds
8 to fossils the old sand
9 itself looking to be such
10 a fussy fossil
11 no quite futile
12 it should require
13 some sort of guile
14 some genius
15 to subsist on sun
16 same like sand
17 (have both for free)
18 and come out looking
19 friendly green
20 (juicy even)
21 As if in spite of
22 As if in fun.
- Tita Lacambra-Ayala

1. The plant cactus stands for

a. despair or pessimism
b. courage and optimism
c. ability to adjust
d. sense of endurance

2. The colon after the phrase “stuck out” in line 4 is used to

a. explain c. justify
b. clarify d. defend
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Steps in Writing a Literature Test
 Identifying the context – learning context, language level, role of the test
 Writing the test – identifying the target competence
 Planning the over-all shape of the test- identifying discrete and global skills ,
determining the tasks, deciding on objective and subjective items, determining time constraints
 Selecting the texts – seen vs, unseen texts
 Grouping skills – literary information skills and literary interpretation skills
 Matching skills to task
 Writing test items
 Clarifying marking criteria

Example of skills and tasks in a literature test

Select from opening paragraphs the information

Appreciating information in openings; how an that will be important to the story ;
author sets the theme What can be inferred about the story based on the
opening paragraphs?
Appreciating how a dialogue operates; what it Rewrite dialogues using one’s words; change
reveals about the character dialogues and discuss its effects on the story
compare two versions of the same text; identify the
Recognizing tone in a text
changes and their effects
Rearrange the events to come up with a plot;
Recognizing development and sequence of the plot compare two different plots and discuss the
similarities/differences in plot sequence
Identify the elements of the short story; discuss
Recognizing the characteristics of the short story
each element
Recognizing the role of setting in the story Discuss the setting
List what you would do in the circumstances of the
Developing empathy with situation and characters story; do the characters respond in the same way or
Match texts of the same author and justify the
Responding to the style of the author choice. Fill in gaps in a text in a style appropriate to
the author.

Types of test in Literature

1. Multiple choice

This type of test gives a question and a number of options from which the examinee has to choose
the correct or best answer.

 incomplete statement

Ex: In Tolstoy’s God Sees the Truth but Waits, Aksyonof was imprisoned for ___ years.

a. 24 c. 26
b. 25 d. 27

 complete statement

Ex: I am between the devil and the deep blue sea.

a. between heaven and hell

b. between enemies and friends
c. between two opposing problems
between two similarly difficult situation

 question

Ex: How was Miss Julie described in Strindberg’s famous play?

a. full of herself
b. morally corrupt
c. victim of the society
d. all of the above

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2. Completion of gap filling

The examinee has to complete a sentence by filling a gap or adding something.


The Odyssey was written by _______. The brave hero of this epic is
__________ who has a beautiful wife, __________ and a young son
____________. He sailed to _________ to help the Greeks fight the Trojans.
His brilliance is manifested when he supervised the building of the _______
which was instrumental in defeating Troy.

3. Matching Type

The examinee is faced with two groups of words, phrases or sentences. Each item has to be linked
to a different item in the second.

___ 1. American literature a. Kerima Polotan-Tuvera
___ 2. Latin – American literature b. Amy Tan
___ 3. African literature c. Li Po
___ 4. Chinese literature d. Bessie Head
___ 5. Philippine literature e. Laura Esquivel

4. Question and answer

This type of test asks the examinee a question to be answered in short or long answers.
What is Heathcliff’s dilemma?
What does Hamlet speak of in his famous soliloquy, to be or not to be...?

5. True or False

This type of test asks the examinee to answer true or false to a statement given.
1. One of the elements of magic realism is the use of cyclical plots.
2. During the Spanish regime, Philippine literature is characterized as an attempt
to imitate literary works written in most western countries.

6. Essay type

This type of test requires the examinee to answer a question using detailed proofs and explanation.
The ability of the examinee to express his/her thoughts is also tested.

Which of the following Haiku writers best uses the concepts of Buddhism in his works? Elucidate.

1. Basho
2. Issa
3. Buson

Mythology and Folklore

Myth: (1) a story (2) that is usually of unknown origin and (3) at least partially traditional (4) that ostensibly relates
historical events usually of such description as (5) to serve to explain some particular event, institution, or natural
phenomenon (Webster)

Myths are certain products of the imagination of a people which take the form of stories. (H.J. Rose in A Handbook of Greek

A Myth is a story about gods, other supernatural beings, or heroes of a long past time. (M. Reinhold, Past and Present)

Myth is a cognitive structure analogous to language through which primitive people organize their experiences. (J. Peradotto,
Classical Mythology)

Myth is the symbolic form which is generated, shaped, and transmitted by the creative imagination of pre- and extra-logical
people as they respond to and encapsulate the wealth of experience. (R.J. Schork, “Classical Mythology,” The Classic

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Fairy tale: a make-believe story about fairies, wizards, giants, or other characters who possess magical or unusual powers

Folklore: traditions, customs, and stories of one culture or group of people

Legend: a story about the past that is considered to be true but is usually a combination of both fact and fiction

Mythology: a group of myths from a single group or culture

Supernatural: more than what is natural or normal; showing godlike or magical powers; exhibiting superhuman strength



Myths of this kind tend to be examples of primitive science or religion. They explain natural phenomena or
the origin of things, and they describe how individuals should behave toward the gods.

Myths of this variety tend to be examples of primitive history; they contain a germ or seed of historical fact
and enlarge upon it with great flourish. A good example of a saga or legend in the story of the war at Troy.

Myths of this species tend to be examples of primitive fiction. Tales of this sort are told for pleasure and
amusement. Frequently the stories contain supernatural characters such as ghosts, elves, dwarfs, or demons,
and they often include elements of magic, e.g., spells, potions, and objects.

Sources of Mythology and Folklore

Aesop’s Fables : a collection of fables under the name of Aesop over 2,000 years ago in Greece. According to Herodotus,
Aesop lived in the mid-sixth century and was a slave and that he was killed by the people of Delphi, perhaps for seditious or
sacrilegious beliefs.

A Thousand and One Nights (also known as The Arabian Nights) : a collection of stories and fables from Arabia, Egypt,
India, and Persia that were compiled from oral tales that had been passed down through these cultures for generations. Some
of the well-known characters include Aladdin, Ali Baba, and Sinbad the Sailor. Jinn are common figures in these stories.

The Great Epics of the World. Myths and legends are usually sourced from the existing epics of the different cultures of the
world. The Iliad and The Odyssey of the Greeks, The Aeneid of the Romans, The Mahabharata and Ramayana of India,
Beowolf of England, The Song of Roland of France, El Cid of Spain, Sha Namah of Persia, Gilgamesh of the Babylonians,

The Panchatantra : a collection of fables which was used to educate Indian princes into becoming wise kings. It is supposed
that Aesop’s Fables largely owed much from the Panchatantra.

The Poems of Hesiod : Theogony and Works and Days. Hesiod is an early Greek poet who probably flourished around 700
B.C. Much of Greek mythology came from his two complete works.


Creation myths set the stage for more particular myths supporting social structures, the relation of human beings to
the natural world, and questions of life and death. A creator deity brings into being the sun, moon, and stars, seas and
mountains, and so on, along with deities that personify them, then plant life, animals, and humans that populate the world.

Gods and Godesses

Universally, people believed in ideal beings leading them. Such deities possess human characteristics: they have
parents and offspring, and they belong to some social grouping. An important role of mythology is to reinforce and justify
relations of power and leadership

Heroic Figures
Heroes and heroines are semi-divine beings: in many mythologies they have superhuman powers through divine
parentage; or they may have acquired divinity through their deeds as men or women on earth, with the help of a deity, by use
of magic weapons, or acquisition of magic powers through ingenuity or trickery.

Monsters and Demons

Monsters and demons are most familiar as the beings that a heroic figure confronts and overcomes. They defy divine
order both in their appearance –typically but not invariably deformed or hideous – and in their actions, such as attacking or
capturing a human or divine victim.
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They are featured as wild creatures – predatory beasts or the elusive prey of hunters; or as helpful beings tamed by
humans, or as possessing powers. Deities may disguise themselves as animals; or they may have heads or other features in
token of the characteristics they supposed to have in common, or of a clan fetish.

The Underworld
Inevitably associations with burial prompt tales of gloom and terror of the unknown yet inevitable. A strong mythic
duality : Earth swallows up the dead, but equally it produces food plants and harbors mineral wealth.

Journey, Quests, and Trials

Quests and journeys bring mythological figures into a number of situations where they can prove their strength. In
numerous myths loyalty to the dead initiates journeys to the underworld to try to bring loved ones back to life.

The Afterlife
The afterlife, some form of existence after death, takes as many different forms in mythologies as the culture from
which they are drawn. Some speak of paradise where the pains of life on earth are left behind. After death comes judgment, a
rigorous trial is conducted, and torture awaits those who fail the trial.

Worlds Destroyed
Creation may be seen in myth as chance event or something that occurred despite opposing forces; likewise an end to
the world in its present form may be inevitable or threatened, whether by divine will, as a result of attack by forces of evil, or
in punishment for human misdeeds.


Mesopotamian Mythology. The Assyro-Babylonian tradition had its core of mythology of the Sumerians. The gods
included Annu (sky), Enlil (storm), Enki (water), Ea (wisdom), Ishtar (fertility), Erishkigal (underworld).

Canaanite Mythology. Canaan is here used in its biblical sense : Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine. The divinities
included El (the creator), Baal (heavy rains).

Egyptian Mythology. The dying and rising vegetation gods of both Mesopotamia and Canaan have their counterpart
in the Egyptian mythology. Osiris, Isis, Horus, and are the deities.

Greek Mythology. The major deities were associated with aspects of nature such as Zeus (sky and thunder) or
Poseidon (sea), and with abstract qualities, such as Athena (wisdom) or Apollo (arts, healing, prophecy).

Roman Mythology. It incorporated those of conquered peoples but was in many respects an adaptation of the
Greeks. Juno, originally an Etruscan deity of the moon, protected the city of Rome. Quirinus, a Sabine war god, was
assimilated to Romulus, deified mythical founder of Rome.

Celtic Mythology. Celtic mythology is preserved in Wales and Ireland which the Romans failed to subdue. The
druids and bards preserved the tradition of the people led by a warrior elite with spectacular achievements in terms of
conquest and plunder but without the organizational skills to consolidate an empire.

Norse Mythology. Norse or Germanic mythology also glorifies battle but against a harsher natural background. life
derives from ice and fire and is ultimately consumed by them. The individual’s self-sacrifice in the service of Odin (death and
magic) who brings the reward of unlimited food and drink – and more fighting – in Valhalla. Other gods are Thor, Frigg, and

Mexican and South American Mythologies. The mythology of the warlike Aztecs in Meso-America also justified
bloodshed, though they adopted the practice of sacrifice for which they are so vilified from the Toltecs, the first of many
older civilizations that they overcame. The empire-builders of South America, the Incas, like the Aztecs, considered
themselves the elect of the gods, their ruler offspring of the sun. The heavens, with astronomical observations and calendrics,
dominated mythology.

Persian Mythology. Initially, Persian mythology reflected the life of warriors and of nomadic pastoralists beginning
to turn to agriculture in fertile pockets amidst harsh deserts and mountains. It supported a cult held in the open air, sometimes
on mountaintops, with the deities personifying beneficent and destructive forces of nature. Later developments stressed this
duality of good and evil, light and dark in constant battle.

Indian Mythology. The Vedic mythology of India, derived from the Aryans, also has Indra, a warrior sky god,
insuring fertilizing rain and dispatching earlier inhabitants of the new homeland and demonizing them. Sacrifice and cult
itself was deified developing an endless conflict of gods and demons of Hinduism, together with cyclic creation, maintenance
of the balance of good and evil, and destruction to prepare the way for new creation.

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Chinese Mythology. Chinese mythology is rooted in its vast land, in veneration of its emperors, whose good rule
brought prosperity and was a mark of heavenly approval, and in reverence for ancestors, the link between humans and gods.
Three philosophies shaped Chinese mythology : (1) Taoism taught that cosmic energy and all life in mystically compounded
of yin (the negative, female principle) and yang (the complementary positive, male principle); (2) Confucianism upheld the
leadership of emperor and aristocracy, with mythology showing the benefits of learning and discipline; (3) Buddhism brought
elements of Indian thought on reincarnation, the conflict of good and evil, and judgment.

Japanese Mythology. Like in China, native mythology centered on land, and the establishment of imperial dynasties
was combined with Buddhist doctrine on death and the afterlife, ultimately from India and related to Persian traditions, for
example Yama/Yima as first man and king/judge of the dead.


The Greek culture existed before the Roman culture. When the Romans decided to develop a mythology, they
adopted the gods of Greek mythology and changed their names. Typically, these Roman versions of the gods are more
disciplined and do not take on the same colourful and complex personalities that many of the Greek gods have.

Table of Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses


Aphrodite Venus goddess of love and beauty
Apollo Apollo god of music, poetry, and the sun
Ares Mars god of war
Artemis Diana goddess of the moon
Asclepius Aesculapius god of medicine
Athena Minerva goddess of wisdom
Cronus Saturn god of the sky and agriculture
Demeter Ceres goddess of fertility and crops
Dionysus Bacchus god of wine, ecstasy
Eros Cupid god of love
Gaea Terra Mother Earth
Hades Dis god of the underworld
Hephaestus Vulcan god of fire; craftsman for the gods
Hera Juno queen of the gods; goddess of marriage
Hermes Mercury messenger of the gods, travel
Persephone Proserpina queen of the underworld
Poseidon Neptune god of the sea
Zeus Jupiter ruler of the gods

Zeus, the King

Zeus is acknowledged as the leader of the new generation of gods.
He is consistently identified as the sky-god. Many of his attributes and titles are attributed to his functions as the god of the
sky, e.g. Rainer, Thunderer, Cloud Gatherer, Lightning God, Sender of Fair Winds.

Division of Authority
Zeus and his brothers determine the spheres of their authority: Zeus won the sky; Poseidon, the sea; and Hades, the
underworld. The surface of the Earth and Mt. Olympus are neutral territories.

The wife of Zeus, Hera, is considered as the queen of the Olympians. Her name is originally a title which meant “Our Lady”
or “Great lady”. She became greatly associated with the earth , chiefly with marriage and childbirth. Her Roman name is
Juno. Due to her husband’s tendency to womanize, Hera is pictured as a wife who was troubled by her husband’s apparent
infidelities. Since she could not directly punish the ruler of the gods, she takes vengeance on his mistresses or even on the
children produced from these romances.

Poseidon is primarily the god of the sea but he is also associated with earthquakes and horses. His Roman equivalent is
Neptune. Like the sea, Poseidon is unpredictable and easily aroused to anger. He is frequently pictured with a trident, a three-
pronged spear which is used by fishermen.

Hestia is the goddess of the family hearth and its fire. By extension, she came to be regarded as the guardian of the home, the
family, the local community and the state as the whole. Vesta is her Roman name.

The Vestal Virgins

The rites of Vesta were performed by priestesses who were called the Vestal Virgins; each of whom took a vow of virginity
in honor of the goddess they served.
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Demeter is the goddess of the grain and the Earth’s fertility in general. Her Roman equivalent was Ceres .
Demeter’s marriage to Zeus produced a daughter names Persephone (Roman: Proserpina). Demeter and Persephone
represented essentially the same thing: the fertility of the Earth. When a distinction was made, Persephone represented the
seed and Demeter, the blossoming grain.

The birth of Artemis marks the second generation of the gods of Olympus. Diana is the Roman equivalent to Artemis.
Artemis is the goddess of wild nature and of the animals who live there. She is often portrayed as the huntress with a bow and
arrow, but she also carefully protects the animals in her domain. She could be unpredictable, like the open country. She could
be benevolent and merciful but also harsh and deadly.

Apollo is a god said to be as complex and mysterious as Zeus. He is the god of reason and moderation, the giver of laws and
thus, the rewarder of right action and the punisher of the wrong. He is, along with his sister Artemis, a god of archery and
could send disease or cure to humans with his arrow. He was the god of the sun as Artemis is of the moon. He is also the god
of poetry and music, and, in what perhaps his best known attribute, of prophecy.

Athena is a virgin goddess of domestic arts and crafts, of wisdom and of war. She is the patroness of Athens and the protector
of the cities, in general. She is known to the Romans as Minerva.
According to stories, an early goddess of wisdom, Metis, became pregnant by Zeus. It is foretold that her child would
produce a son who will overthrow Zeus. To keep the prophecy from being fulfilled, Zeus swallowed Metis as she was about
to give birth. Athena, their child, burst forth from his head. Zeus now becomes both the mother and the father of the child and
has avoided the consequences of the prophecy.

He is the son of Zeus and Hera and is considered the god of war. He represents the uncontrollable frenzy of battle and all the
destruction and horrors of war. Due to his uncontrollable rage, he is disliked by most Greeks and some say, even by his
father, Zeus. Despite this, his womanizing seems to have been taken from his father. His most famous affair was with
Aphrodite, the goddess of love. Their affair produces four children despite its secrecy. Their children are Eros, Deimos,
Phobus and Harmonia.
The Romans called their god of war, Mars. Unlike Ares, he is well loved by the Romans and his power is regarded as second
to Jupiter. He is considered the protector of the city.

She is the goddess of physical love and passionate desire. Her Roman equivalent is Venus. Some say that she is a daughter of
Zeus and Dione, a daughter of Oceanus. Other claims posit that she is born from the mating of “aphros” which means foam
of the sea. She is married to Hephaestus, but largely due to her nature, she has many affairs.
Her mating with Hermes, for one, results to the birth of their son, Hermaphrodite. As the handsome Hermaphrodite is bathing
in a spring, a nymph falls in love with him and leaps upon him and prays to the gods they may never be separated, the Gods
answers her prayer and their bodies become one. From that time on, a creature which combines both male and female
characteristics has been called a hermaphrodite.

He is the master craftsman and metal worker of the gods. His forge is always a place of much activity as he designs and
produces ingenious and artistic creations. His masterpieces includes the palaces of the gods, Zeus’ throne and sceptre, the
chariot of Helios, the arrows of Apollo and Artemis, the sickle of Demeter and the weapons of Athena. He is also created the
armors of great heroes like Achilles and Aeneas.

While Hermes is the youngest of the Gods, he had very primitive origins. He is the messenger of Zeus, the herald of the gods,
the guide for travellers, the leader of spirits of the underworld, giver of fertility and the patron of orators, writers,
businessmen , thieves and athletes. His Roman name is Mercury.
As a messenger and herald of the gods, he is pictured wearing a broad-rimmed hat, and with winged shoes or sandals.

Hades is the god of the underworld. His name means, the “unseen one.” The Greeks hesitated a lot to mention his name so
they often called him Pluto, which means “rich” or “wealthy” to refer to both the number of the spirits under his authority
and to the fact that all crops grow from beneath the earth. The Romans borrowed the name Pluto from the Greeks to refer to
their god of the underworld. Although, they also call him Dis. His wife is Persephone.

He is the god of wine and by extension, everything associated with it. Dionysus was from the beginning associated with the
fertility of the grape vine and gradually this function expanded to include fertility in general (crop, animal, human). He is in
this regard, the male counterpart of Demeter.

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The frequently portrayed symbols of Dionysus are 1) a staff twined with a grape vine and ivy leaves with a pine cone placed
on top; 2) a wreath of ivy grape vine ; and 3) wine cup. Some Greeks also call him Bacchus was borrowed by the Romans to
name their god of wine.

Theories Related to the Study of Mythology

A: Ancient Theories

1. Rationalism
According to this theory, myths represent an early form of logical thinking: they all, have a logical base. For
example, the myth of Pegasus, the flying horse can best be explained by imagining the reaction of the first Greek to
see a horse. Compared to other animals they know, the horse must have seemed to fly as it gallops fast and leap over
high obstacles.

2. Etymological Theory
This theory states that all myths derive from and can be traced back to certain words in the language. Sources of most
mythological characters have their origins from the languages of the world. Hades, for example, originally meant
“unseen” but came eventually to be the name for the god of the dead.

3. Allegorical theory
In the allegorical explanation, all myths contain hidden meanings which the narrative deliberately conceals or
encodes. Example : story of King Midas and his golden touch
Allegorists offered this simple reason why stories were used in the first place rather than a simple statement of the
ideas they represented: they interested people who might not listen to emotionless concepts but who could be
attracted by imaginative narratives.

4. Euhemerism
Euhemerus, a Greek who lived from 325-275 BC, maintained that all myths arise from historical events which were
merely exaggerated

Modern Theories

1. Naturalism
In this hypothesis, all myths are thought to arise from an attempt to explain natural phenomena. People who believe
in this theory narrow the source of myths by tracing their origins from the worship of the sun or the moon.

2. Ritualism
According to this theory, all myths are invented to accompany and explain religious ritual; they describe the
significant events which have resulted in a particular ceremony.

3. Diffusionism
The diffusionists maintain that all myths arose from a few major cultural centers and spread throughout the world.

4. Evolutionism
Myth making occurs at a certain stage in the evolution of the human mind. Myths, are therefore, an essential part of
all developing societies and the similarities from one culture to the next can be explained by the relatively limited
number of experiences open to such communities when myths arise.

5. Freudianism
When Sigmund Freud, the founder of modern psychology, interpreted the dreams of his patients, he found great
similarities between them and the ancient myths. Freud believes that certain infantile are repressed, i.e. they are
eliminated from the conscious mind but continues to exist within the individual in some other form. Sometimes these
feelings emerge into consciousness under various disguises, one of which is the myth.

6. Jungian archetypes
Carl Jung was a prominent psychologist who, while he accepted Freud’s theory about the origin of myths , did not
believe that it went far in explaining the striking similarities between the motifs found in ancient stories and those of
his patients. He postulated that each of
us possesses a “collective unconscious” which we inherit genetically. It contains very general ideas, themes, or
motifs which are passed along from one generation to another and are retained as part of our human inheritance.

7. Structuralism
This theory is a fairly recent development and is closely allied with the research of linguists. According to this
theory, all human behaviour, the way we eat, dress, speak, is patterned into codes which have the characteristics of
language. To understand the real meaning of myth, therefore, we must analyze it linguistically.

8. Historical-critical theory
This theory maintains that there are a multitude of factors which influence the origin and development of myths and
that no single explanation will suffice. We must examine each story individually to see how it began and evolved.
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Some Interesting Characters from Mythology

 Dragons. Stories of fire-breathing dragons vary throughout different cultures. In Chinese mythology, dragons are of
many different types. Most of them are known to be both generous and wise. Some represent good luck. The spiritual
Azure Dragon which controls the weather is the most powerful Chinese dragon.
 Unicorn. The unicorn is a mystical animal that is found in the mythologies of many different cultures throughout the
world. Representing beauty, goodness, and strength, this legendary creature appears in art, folklore, and literature.
During the Middle Ages, the unicorn was a symbol of love and purity.
 Troll. According to Scandinavian folklore, trolls are hostile creatures who lived inside dark caves in the mountains.
They are keepers of buried treasures such as silver and gold, and are known for their pointed ears, long noses, and
large teeth. They can live for 500 years and are impossible to kill for they have the ability to regenerate or regrow a
lost or severed body part in a matter of days.
 Jinni. A jinni is a spirit from Arab and Muslim folklore that inhabits the earth and can assume human or animal
form. Jinns have many supernatural powers, such as the ability to cast spells on people and grant them wishes. There
are five tribes of jinn. These are, according to their power, the Marid, the Efrit, the Shaitan, the Jinn, and the Jann.
 Hydra. The nine-headed serpent Hydra is one of the most hideous and ghastly monsters of Greek mythology. Slayed
by Heracles, Hydra was almost indestructible because two crude heads would spring up to replace each head that a
slayer would sever. Hydra was a child of the terrible monster Typhon, who has 100 heads and 200 evil eyes that
oozed venom.
 Chimera. The chimera is a huge fire-breathing monster that has the head of a lion, the body of a dragon, and the hind
legs of a goat. According to Greek mythology, the Chimera ravaged the Greek city of Lycia until it was slayed by the
prince of Corinth, Bellerophon with the help of Pegasus.
 Centaur. The centaurs are a group of monsters that lived in the mountains near the city of Arcadia in Greece. From
the waist up, their bodies are human, and their lower bodies and legs are in the form of a horse. The centaurs lived
without regard to order and do not honor the gods or respect humans. One good centaur however is Chiron, the son
of Cronus, who is an immortal known for his kindness and wisdom.
 Fenrir. Fenrir is a large ferocious wolf with fierce yellow eyes and tremendous jaw. When it was just a pup, the
Norse god captured it and locked it in a cage because they feared the wolf might one day be responsible for the
destruction of the world.
 Oni. The oni are giant horned demons. They are said to have come to Japan from China with the arrival of
Buddhism, and Buddhist priest perform annual rites to expel them. The oni can be a variety of colors and have three
fingers, three toes and sometimes three eyes. Cruel and lecherous, they can sweep down from the sky to steal the
souls of dying people.
 Nagas. According to South-east Asian mythology, nagas are supernatural beings who take the form of serpents. The
king of the serpent deities Mucilinda shelteres the Buddha with the outspread hoods of his seven heads during a
downpour that lasted for seven days. When the sun returns, the serpent is transformed into a young prince who paid
homage to Buddha.
 Guei or Kuei. In Chinese mythology, guei are spirits formed from the yin, or negative essence, of people’s souls.
These spirits of emanations are always feared because they are said to take their revenge on those people who ill-
treated them when they were alive. They can be identified because they wear clothes which have no hems and their
bodies cast non shadows.
 Kappa. In Japanese mythology, the kappa is a race of monkey-like demons. They lived in ponds and rivers and lure
human beings, as well as other creatures down into the depths of the water where they then feed on them. As well as
being particularly fond of blood, the also like cucumbers. They have monkey-like faces, webbed hands and feet and
yellow-green skin. They wear shells like tortoises.


Inert chaos was embodied in Apsu, the sweet water in which floated the earth and which fed its springs, and his
consort, the salt sea waters, known as Mother Tiamat. From their union came monstrous serpents, then the male and female
principles (the worlds of heaven and earth) and the great deities – the mighty sky god Anu, the god of controlled water Enki,
and the resourceful god of wisdom Ea.
Led by Anu, these gods wished creation to proceed, but Apsu resented their agitation and considered killing his own
offspring. Tiamat resisted this plan, but when Ea killed Apsu by magic she marshalled monstrous forces to confront the Court
of Heaven in battle. Ea’s son Marduk was appointed as king to preserve creation. In epic combat Tiamak opened her mouth
to consume Marduk, but he unleashed an “evil wind” which entered her stomach, distending her, so he could rip her apart.
Half of her body became the sky, resting on the mountains that surround the earth, the other half of her body.
In completing the creation Marduk assigned the great gods to their abodes, set stars and moon in their places, and
created time. From the blood of Kingu, leader of forces of chaos, Marduk created humankind to serve the gods.


At the beginning of time, all creation was enclosed in the mouth of a gigantic snake. Eventually, a gold mountain
arose and became home to the supreme god of the upper region, while a jewel mountain arose and became home to the
supreme god of the lower region. The two mountains collided together on numerous occasions, each time creating part of the
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universe. This period has become known as the first epoch of creation, when the clouds the sky, the mountains, the cliffs, the
sun and moon were made. Afterwards, the “Hawk of Heaven” and the great fish Ila-Ilai Langit were brought into being,
followed by two fabulous creatures: Didis Mahendera who had eyes made of jewels, and Rowang Riwo, who had golden
saliva. Finally, the golden headdress of the god Mahatala appeared.
In the second epoch of creation, Jata, the divine maiden, created the land. Soon afterwards, hills and rivers were
formed. In the third epoch of creation, the tree of life appeared and united the upper and lower worlds.

Celtic Myth of the Holy Grail

King Arthur’s magic ship sailed three times round the island of the dead. It was guarded by 6,000 warriors, who
slaughtered all but seven of Arthur’s men; nevertheless Arthur won the ever-replenished cauldron from which only the
valiant and noble could eat. Another myth relates that in his search for it, King Arthur journeyed to the realm of the dead ; at
its entrance he killed a sorceress by cutting her in half, like two bowls.
Because of their moral failings knights such as Lancelot were denied a vision of the Holy Grail, interpreted as the cup
used at the Last Supper. It was finally secured by Galahad. Among Arthur’s knights, Lancelot’s son Sir Galahad, who had the
strength of 10 men, was pure enough to see it. He carried it from Britain to Sarras, a Mediterranean island where he became
king, dying after a year in answer to his own prayer that his soul be released to eternal life. Upon his death the Grail rose to
heaven, never to be seen again.

Literary Movements and Periods

Literature constantly evolves as new movements emerge to speak to the concerns of different groups of people and historical

Absurd, literature of the (c. 1930–1970): A movement, primarily in the theater, that responded to the seeming illogicality
and purposelessness of human life in works marked by a lack of clear narrative, understandable psychological motives, or
emotional catharsis. Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot is one of the most celebrated works in the theater of the absurd.
Aestheticism (c. 1835–1910): A late-19th-century movement that believed in art as an end in itself. Aesthetes such as Oscar
Wilde and Walter Pater rejected the view that art had to posses a higher moral or political value and believed instead in “art
for art’s sake.”
Angry Young Men (1950s–1980s): A group of male British writers who created visceral plays and fiction at odds with the
political establishment and a self-satisfied middle class. John Osborne’s play Look Back in Anger (1957) is one of the seminal
works of this movement.
Beat Generation (1950s–1960s): A group of American writers in the 1950s and 1960s who sought release and illumination
though a bohemian counterculture of sex, drugs, and Zen Buddhism. Beat writers such as Jack Kerouac (On The Road) and
Allen Ginsberg (Howl) gained fame by giving readings in coffeehouses, often accompanied by jazz music.
Bloomsbury Group (c. 1906–1930s): An informal group of friends and lovers, including Clive Bell, E. M. Forster, Roger
Fry, Lytton Strachey, Virginia Woolf, and John Maynard Keynes, who lived in the Bloomsbury section of London in the
early 20th century and who had a considerable liberalizing influence on British culture.
Commedia dell’arte (1500s–1700s): Improvisational comedy first developed in Renaissance Italy that involved stock
characters and centered around a set scenario. The elements of farce and buffoonery in commedia dell’arte, as well as its
standard characters and plot intrigues, have had a tremendous influence on Western comedy, and can still be seen in
contemporary drama and television sitcoms.
Dadaism (1916–1922): An avant-garde movement that began in response to the devastation of World War I. Based in Paris
and led by the poet Tristan Tzara, the Dadaists produced nihilistic and antilogical prose, poetry, and art, and rejected the
traditions, rules, and ideals of prewar Europe.
Enlightenment (c. 1660–1790): An intellectual movement in France and other parts of Europe that emphasized the
importance of reason, progress, and liberty. The Enlightenment, sometimes called the Age of Reason, is primarily associated
with nonfiction writing, such as essays and philosophical treatises. Major Enlightenment writers include Thomas Hobbes,
John Locke, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, René Descartes.
Elizabethan era (c. 1558–1603): A flourishing period in English literature, particularly drama, that coincided with the reign
of Queen Elizabeth I and included writers such as Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, William Shakespeare,
Sir Philip Sidney, and Edmund Spenser.
Gothic fiction (c. 1764–1820): A genre of late-18th-century literature that featured brooding, mysterious settings and plots
and set the stage for what we now call “horror stories.” Horace Walpole’s Castle of Otranto, set inside a medieval castle, was
the first major Gothic novel. Later, the term “Gothic” grew to include any work that attempted to create an atmosphere of
terror or the unknown, such as Edgar Allan Poe’s short stories.
Harlem Renaissance (c. 1918–1930): A flowering of African-American literature, art, and music during the 1920s in New
York City. W. E. B. DuBois’s The Souls of Black Folk anticipated the movement, which included Alain Locke’s anthology
The New Negro, Zora Neale Hurston’s novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, and the poetry of Langston Hughes and
Countee Cullen.
Lost Generation (c. 1918–1930s): A term used to describe the generation of writers, many of them soldiers that came to
maturity during World War I. Notable members of this group include F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Dos Passos, and Ernest
Hemingway, whose novel The Sun Also Rises embodies the Lost Generation’s sense of disillusionment.
Magic realism (c. 1935–present): A style of writing, popularized by Jorge Luis Borges, Gabriel García Márquez, Günter
Grass, and others, that combines realism with moments of dream-like fantasy within a single prose narrative.
Metaphysical poets (c. 1633–1680): A group of 17th-century poets who combined direct language with ingenious images,
paradoxes, and conceits. John Donne and Andrew Marvell are the best known poets of this school.
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Middle English (c. 1066–1500): The transitional period between Anglo-Saxon and modern English. The cultural upheaval
that followed the Norman Conquest of England, in 1066, saw a flowering of secular literature, including ballads, chivalric
romances, allegorical poems, and a variety of religious plays. Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales is the most celebrated work of
this period.
Modernism (1890s–1940s): A literary and artistic movement that provided a radical breaks with traditional modes of
Western art, thought, religion, social conventions, and morality. Major themes of this period include the attack on notions of
hierarchy; experimentation in new forms of narrative, such as stream of consciousness; doubt about the existence of
knowable, objective reality; attention to alternative viewpoints and modes of thinking; and self-referentiality as a means of
drawing attention to the relationships between artist and audience, and form and content.
 High modernism (1920s): Generally considered the golden age of modernist literature, this period saw the
publication of James Joyce’s Ulysses, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway, and Marcel
Proust’s In Search of Lost Time.
Naturalism (c. 1865–1900): A literary movement that used detailed realism to suggest that social conditions, heredity, and
environment had inescapable force in shaping human character. Leading writers in the movement include Émile Zola,
Theodore Dreiser, and Stephen Crane.
Neoclassicism (c. 1660–1798): A literary movement, inspired by the rediscovery of classical works of ancient Greece and
Rome that emphasized balance, restraint, and order. Neoclassicism roughly coincided with the Enlightenment, which
espoused reason over passion. Notable neoclassical writers include Edmund Burke, John Dryden, Samuel Johnson,
Alexander Pope, and Jonathan Swift.
Nouveau Roman (“New Novel”) (c. 1955–1970): A French movement, led by Alain Robbe-Grillet, that dispensed with
traditional elements of the novel, such as plot and character, in favor of neutrally recording the experience of sensations and
Postcolonial literature (c. 1950s–present): Literature by and about people from former European colonies, primarily in
Africa, Asia, South America, and the Caribbean. This literature aims both to expand the traditional canon of Western
literature and to challenge Eurocentric assumptions about literature, especially through examination of questions of otherness,
identity, and race. Prominent postcolonial works include Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, V. S. Naipaul’s A House for
Mr. Biswas, and Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children. Edward Said’s Orientalism (1978) provided an important theoretical
basis for understanding postcolonial literature.
Postmodernism (c. 1945–present): A notoriously ambiguous term, especially as it refers to literature, postmodernism can be
seen as a response to the elitism of high modernism as well as to the horrors of World War II. Postmodern literature is
characterized by a disjointed, fragmented pastiche of high and low culture that reflects the absence of tradition and structure
in a world driven by technology and consumerism. Julian Barnes, Don DeLillo, Toni Morrison, Vladimir Nabokov, Thomas
Pynchon, Salman Rushdie, and Kurt Vonnegut are among many who are considered postmodern authors.
Pre-Raphaelites (c. 1848–1870): The literary arm of an artistic movement that drew inspiration from Italian artists working
before Raphael (1483–1520). The Pre-Raphaelites combined sensuousness and religiosity through archaic poetic forms and
medieval settings. William Morris, Christina Rossetti, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, and Charles Swinburne were leading poets in
the movement.
Realism (c. 1830–1900): A loose term that can refer to any work that aims at honest portrayal over sensationalism,
exaggeration, or melodrama. Technically, realism refers to a late-19th-century literary movement—primarily French,
English, and American—that aimed at accurate detailed portrayal of ordinary, contemporary life. Many of the 19th century’s
greatest novelists, such as Honoré de Balzac, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, Gustave Flaubert, and Leo Tolstoy, are
classified as realists. Naturalism ( see above ) can be seen as an intensification of realism.
Romanticism (c. 1798–1832): A literary and artistic movement that reacted against the restraint and universalism of the
Enlightenment. The Romantics celebrated spontaneity, imagination, subjectivity, and the purity of nature. Notable English
Romantic writers include Jane Austen, William Blake, Lord Byron, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, John Keats, Percy Bysshe
Shelley, and William Wordsworth. Prominent figures in the American Romantic movement include Nathaniel Hawthorne,
Herman Melville, Edgar Allan Poe, William Cullen Bryant, and John Greenleaf Whittier.
Sturm und Drang (1770s): German for “storm and stress,” this brief German literary movement advocated passionate
individuality in the face of Neoclassical rationalism and restraint. Goethe’s The Sorrows of Young Werther is the most
enduring work of this movement, which greatly influenced the Romantic movement (see above).
Surrealism (1920s–1930s): An avant-garde movement, based primarily in France, that sought to break down the boundaries
between rational and irrational, conscious and unconscious, through a variety of literary and artistic experiments. The
surrealist poets, such as André Breton and Paul Eluard, were not as successful as their artist counterparts, who included
Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and René Magritte.
Symbolists (1870s–1890s): A group of French poets who reacted against realism with a poetry of suggestion based on
private symbols, and experimented with new poetic forms such as free verse and the prose poem. The symbolists—Stéphane
Mallarmé, Arthur Rimbaud, and Paul Verlaine are the most well known—were influenced by Charles Baudelaire. In turn,
they had a seminal influence on the modernist poetry of the early 20th century.
Transcendentalism (c. 1835–1860): An American philosophical and spiritual movement, based in New England, that
focused on the primacy of the individual conscience and rejected materialism in favor of closer communion with nature.
Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “Self-Reliance” and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden are famous transcendentalist works.
Victorian era (c. 1832–1901): The period of English history between the passage of the first Reform Bill (1832) and the
death of Queen Victoria (reigned 1837–1901). Though remembered for strict social, political, and sexual conservatism and
frequent clashes between religion and science, the period also saw prolific literary activity and significant social reform and
criticism. Notable Victorian novelists include the Brontë sisters, Charles Dickens, George Eliot, William Makepeace
Thackeray, Anthony Trollope, and Thomas Hardy, while prominent poets include Matthew Arnold; Robert Browning;
Elizabeth Barrett Browning; Gerard Manley Hopkins; Alfred, Lord Tennyson; and Christina Rossetti. Notable Victorian
nonfiction writers include Walter Pater, John Ruskin, and Charles Darwin, who penned the famous On the Origin of Species
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*Written by Mark Lund, Carver Center for the Arts and Technology, Baltimore County Public Schools, 1996.

3 Purposes of Criticism
• (1) To help us resolve a difficulty in the reading.
• (2) To help us choose the better of two conflicting readings.
• (3) To enable us to form judgments about literature.

Introduction: What is Literary Criticism?

Literary criticism is the study, analysis, and evaluation of imaginative literature. Everyone who expresses an opinion
about a book, a song, a play, or a movie is a critic, but not everyone's opinion is based upon thought, reflection, analysis, or
consistently articulated principles. As people mature and acquire an education, their ability to analyze, their understanding of
human beings, and their appreciation of artistic craftsmanship should increase. The study of literature is an essential
component in this- growth of reflection.
Sometimes students object to analysis and ask, "Why do we have to analyze everything? Why can't we just enjoy the
books we read in English?" These are good questions, and there are some good answers for them. First, talking about an
experience, actual or vicarious, is one way of increasing enjoyment. Second, sometimes talking about an experience involves
recreating it in words, but it can also involve the search for meaning, in short, analysis. Finally, as Socrates said, "The life
which is unexamined is not worth living." Analysis, or examination, increases awareness and understanding; it is part of the
maturation process. The analysis of literature has always been part of a liberal education. When a work of literature is
studied without reference to history or to the life of the author, the approach is intrinsic, or formalistic. However, literature is
related to two other humanistic disciplines: philosophy and history. Philosophy explores basic, general ideas, such as truth,
beauty, and goodness. History attempts to ascertain what happened in the past and why it happened. Philosophy may help
readers to understand the general ideas, or themes, of a literary work. History helps to elucidate the life and times of the
Traditionally, literary studies were conducted within the three humanistic disciplines of literature, history, and
philosophy. In the twentieth century, the social sciences have been used to develop new approaches to criticism. Psychology
has helped to illuminate the motivations of characters and the writers who create them. Sociology has revealed the
relationships between the works the author produces and the society that consumes them. Anthropology has shown how
ancient myths and rituals are alive and well in the plays, poems, and novels that are popular today.
Literary criticism has been a social institution for many centuries. Different ages take different approaches, but the
activity is constant. Authors are aware of criticism so that it is probably not entirely fair to say that the literary critic reads
meanings into the texts that were never intended by the author. Literary criticism is not "reading between the lines" -it is
reading the lines very carefully, in a disciplined and informed manner. This is why it is possible to speak of some of the
approaches discussed in this booklet as elements of literature. That is, it is valid to speak of archetypal elements in a literary
text, sociological elements in a literary text, and formal elements in a literary text. The approaches to literature do not put the
elements there; they are already there. The approaches help to reveal and clarify them.

The Formalistic Approach

The formalistic approach began with Aristotle (384-322 BC), a philosopher of ancient Greece, who in his book The
Poetics attempted to define the form of tragedy. Aristotle wrote that the tragic hero was an essentially noble individual who,
nevertheless, manifested a flaw in character that caused him or her to fall from a high position to a low position. The flaw in
character (hamartia) was a kind of blindness or lack of insight that resulted from an arrogant pride (hubris). During the
course of the tragic action, the hero came to a moment of insight-today it might be seen as an epiphany-that Aristotle called
anagnorsis. Thus the tragic plot moves from blindness to insight. As an imitation (mimesis) of a serious action, the tragic
plot had to be written in a dignified style. The effect of the tragedy was supposed to be catharsis or the purging of the
emotions of pity and fear. All the elements of tragedy went together to produce a formal unity: this is the essence of the
formalistic approach.
The twentieth century formalistic approach, often referred to as the New Criticism, also assumes that a work of
literary art is an organic unity in which every element contributes to the total meaning of the work. This approach is as old as
literary criticism itself, but it was developed in the twentieth century by John Crowe Ransom (1888-1974), Allen Tate (1899-
1979), T.S. Eliot (1888- 1965), and others.
The formalist critic embraces an objective theory of art and examines plot, characterization, dialogue, and style to
show how these elements contribute to the theme or unity of the literary work. Moral, historical, psychological, and
sociological concerns are considered extrinsic to criticism and of secondary importance to the examination of craftsmanship
and form. Content and form in a work constitute a unity, and it is the task of the critic to examine and evaluate the integrity
of the work. Paradox, irony, dynamic tension, and unity are the primary values of formalist criticism.
Because it posits an objective theory of art, there are two axioms central to formalist criticism. One of these is The
Intentional Fallacy which states that an author's intention (plan or purpose) in creating a work of literature is irrelevant in
analyzing or evaluating that work of literature because the meaning and value of a literary work must reside in the text itself,
independent of authorial intent. Another axiom of formalist criticism is The Affective Fallacy which states that the evaluation
of a work of art cannot be based solely on its emotional effects on the audience. Instead, criticism must concentrate upon the
qualities of the work itself that produce such effects. The formalistic approach stresses the close reading of the text and
insists that all statements about the work be supported by references to the text. Although it has been challenged by other
approaches recently, the New Criticism is the most influential form of criticism in this century.

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Formalism is intrinsic literary criticism because it does not require mastery of any body of knowledge besides
literature. As an example of how formalistic criticism approaches literary works, consider Shakespeare's Macbeth. All the
elements of the play form an organic whole. The imagery of the gradual growth of plants is contrasted with the imagery of
leaping over obstacles: Macbeth is an ambitious character who cannot wait to grow gradually into the full stature of power,
but, instead, must grasp everything immediately. A related series of clothing images reinforces this point: because Macbeth
does not grow gradually, his clothing does not fit. At the end of the play, his "Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow"
soliloquy drives home the point as we see, and pity, a man trapped in the lock-step pace of gradual time. Formalistic critics
would immediately see that the repetition of the word "tomorrow" and the natural iambic stress on "and" enhance the
meaninglessness and frustration that the character feels. References to blood and water pervade the play, and blood comes to
symbolize the guilt Macbeth feels for murdering Duncan. Even the drunken porter's speech provides more than comic relief,
for his characterization of alcohol as "an equivocator" is linked to the equivocation of the witches. Shakespeare's
craftsmanship has formed an aesthetic unity in which every part is connected and in which the whole is greater than the sum
of the parts.

1. Formalism / New Criticism / Aristotelian

• Focusing on the elements such as the exposition, rising action, conflict, complication, climax, falling action, and
conclusion (denouement).
• This also includes characters, setting, theme, point of view, and literary devices employed by the author.
• There is no need to bring in outside information about the history, politics, or society of the time, or about the
author's life.

Terms used in New Criticism

• tension - the integral unity of the poem which results from the resolution of opposites, often in irony of paradox
• intentional fallacy - the belief that the meaning or value of a work may be determined by the author's intention
• affective fallacy - the belief that the meaning or value of a work may be determined by its affect on the reader.
• external form - rhyme scheme, meter, stanza form, etc.
• objective correlative - originated by T.S. Eliot,
• this term refers to a collection of objects, situations, or events that instantly evoke a particular emotion.
• Practitioners: I.A. Richards, William Emerson, John Crowe Ransom, Robert Penn Warren, Cleanth Brooks, Allen
Tate, and others.

Advantages of Formalism
• This approach can be performed without much research, and it emphasizes the value of literature apart from its
context (in effect makes literature timeless).
• Virtually all critical approaches must begin here.

Disadvantages of Formalism
• The text is seen in isolation.
• Formalism ignores the context of the work.(other factors)
• It cannot account for allusions.
• It tends to reduce literature to little more than a collection of rhetorical devices.

• A formalistic approach to John Milton's Paradise Lost would take into account the physical description of the Garden
of Eden and its prescribed location, the symbols of hands, seed, and flower, the characters of Adam, Eve, Satan, and
God, the epic similes and metaphors, and the point of view from which the tale is being told (whether it be the
narrator's, God's, or Satan's).
• But such an approach would not discuss the work in terms of Milton's own blindness, or in terms of his Puritan
• Therefore when the narrator says "what in me is dark / Illumine," a formalistic critic could not interpret that in light
of Milton's blindness.
• He would have to find its meaning in the text itself, and therefore would have to overlook the potential double-

2. Historical and Biographical Approaches

• Literature is seen both a reflection and product of the times and circumstances in which it was written.
• It operates on the premise that the history of a nation has telling effects on its literature and that the piece can be
better understood and appreciated if one knows the times surrounding its creation.
• Historical / Biographical critics see works as the reflection of an author's life and times (or of the characters' life and
• They believe it is necessary to know about the author and the political, economical, and sociological context of his
times in order to truly understand his works.

• This approach works well for some works--like Edgar Allan Poe’s works;
• It also is necessary to take a historical approach in order to place allusions in their proper classical, political, or
biblical background.
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• New Critics refer to the historical / biographical critic's belief that the meaning or value of a work may be determined
by the author's intention as "the intentional fallacy."
• They believe that this approach tends to reduce art to the level of biography and make it relative (to the times) rather
than universal.

Central Historical Questions:

 Historical events help shape a work

 What specific historical events were happening when the work was being composed? (See timelines in history or
literature texts.
 What historical events does the work deal with?
 In what ways did history affect the writer's outlook?
 In what ways did history affect the style? Language? Content?
 In what ways and for what reasons did the writer alter historical events?

Historical criticism seeks to interpret the work of literature through understanding the times and culture in which the
work was written. The historical critic is more interested in the meaning that the literary work had for its own time than in
the meaning the work might have today. For example, while some critics might interpret existential themes in Shakespeare's
Hamlet, a historical critic would be more interested in analyzing the play within the context of Elizabethan revenge tragedy
and Renaissance humor psychology.
Biographical criticism investigates the life of an author using primary texts, such as letters, diaries, and other
documents, that might reveal the experiences, thoughts, and feelings that led to the creation of a literary work. For example,
an investigation of Aldous Huxley's personal life reveals that Point Counterpoint is a roman a clef: the character Marc
Rampion is a thinly disguised imaginative version of Huxley's friend, D.H. Lawrence.
Historical criticism and biographical criticism are used in tandem to explicate literary texts. Sometimes the very
premise of a novel may seem more probable if the circumstances of composition are understood. For example, students often
wonder why the boys in Lord of the Flies are oil the island. Their plane has crashed, but where was it going, and why? The
book may be read as a survival adventure, but such a reading would not account for the most important themes. Knowing
that William Golding was a British naval commander in World War II and knowing some of the facts of the British
involvement in the war help in an understanding of the novel. The most important fact relating to the premise of the novel is
that during the London Blitz (1940-1941) children were evacuated from the metropolitan area: some were sent to Scotland,
some to Canada and Australia. Golding imagines a similar evacuation happening during his scenario of World War III. The
itinerary of the transport plane is detailed at the beginning of the novel: Gibraltar and Addis Ababa were stops on an eastward
journey, probably to Australia or New Zealand. The aircraft was shot down, and the boys are stranded on a Pacific atoll. In
the age of the intercontinental ballistic missile, the evacuation seems impossible, but the novel was published in 1954 when
atomic weapons were still delivered principally by bombers. The history of the rise of Hitler and World War n also helps
readers to understand why Ralph's democratic appeasements crumble under the ruthless aggression of Jack's regime.
In short, the historical approach is vital to an understanding of literary texts. Sometimes, knowledge of history is
necessary before the theme of the work can be fully grasped.

The Archetypal Approach

The archetypal approach to literature evolved from studies in anthropology and psychology. Archetypal critics make
the reasonable assumption that human beings all over the world have basic experiences in common and have developed
similar stories and symbols to express these experiences. Their assumption that myths from distant countries might help to
explain a work of literature might seem a little far-fetched. However, critics of this persuasion believe it is valid.
Carl Jung (1875-1961), a student of Freud, came to the conclusion that some of his patients' - dreams contained
images and narrative patterns not from their personal unconscious but from the collective unconscious of the human race. It
was Jung who first used the term archetype to denote plots, characters, and symbols that are found in literature, folk tales and
dreams throughout the world. Some of the principal archetypes are described in the following paragraphs.

The Hero and the Quest

According to Joseph Campbell, the story of the hero is the monomyth, or the one story at the bottom of all stories.
The hero is called to adventure. This means that the hero must go on a quest. The first stage of the quest is separation: in this
stage the hero separates from familiar surroundings and goes on a journey. The second stage of the quest is initiation: the
hero may fight a dragon, conquer an enemy or in some other way prove his or her courage, wisdom and maturity. The final
stage is the return: the hero must return to society to use the courage and wisdom gained in the initiatory phase. Often the
initiation involves a journey to the underworld, and the return phase is regarded as a kind of rebirth. This links the myth of
the hero to the next archetypal motif. (Mary Renault's The King Must Die (1958) is a good actualization of this pattern.)

The Death and Rebirth Pattern

Many myths from around the world reflect the cycle of the seasons. Sometimes mythic thought requires a sacrifice
so that the seasons can continue. A sacrificial hero (in myth it is usually a god or king) accepts death or disgrace so that the
community can flourish. Although the sacrifice is real, it is not necessarily to be regarded as final: the god who dies in the
winter may be reborn in the spring. Characters like Oedipus and Hamlet, who sacrifice themselves to save their kingdoms,
are based on the archetype of the dying god. Shirley Jackson's "The Lottery" reflects this archetypal pattern in a
contemporary setting.
Mother Earth Father Sky

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A surprising number of cultures regard the earth as the mother of all life, and she is sometimes seen as the original
divinity who was wedded and superseded by the archetypal male divinity, the sky god. The offspring of the earth mother and
the sky father are all of the creatures that inhabit the world. Earth mother characters in literature are characterized by vitality,
courage, and optimism. They represent embodiments of the life force. Shug Avery in Alice Walker's The Color Purple
represents a modern version of the earth goddess: she gives Celie the courage to live.

Culture Founder, Trickster, Witch

Culture founders are heroes who invent rules, laws, customs, and belief systems so that society can function and
people can live. Prometheus was the great culture founder of the Greeks. He created mankind and invented writing,
mathematics, and technology so that human beings could survive. Because he stole fire from the gods and gave it to men, he
also became a sacrificial hero, condemned to be tortured in the Caucasus Mountains until he was freed by Heracles. Modern
characters who derive from the culture hero archetype would include Mr. Antrobus in The Skin of Our Teeth and Finny in A
Separate Peace. Both of these characters are creative inventors, organizers, and leaders. The antithesis of the culture hero is
the trickster. Representing the forces of chaos, the trickster delights in mischief. At times the trickster may appear evil, but
the essential quality embodied by this archetype is childishness. Hermes is the trickster in Greek myth; Loki, in Norse myth.
Native American myths have many trickster figures. In William Golding's Lord of the Flies Ralph's culture-founding efforts
are constantly subverted by Jack, a trickster figure who is motivated only by the idea of fun. The female trickster contrasts
with the earth goddess figure in that she devotes herself to pleasure rather than nurturing: she is referred to as the outlaw
female or witch. Medea comes close to epitomizing this archetype.

Four Elements = The World

Earth, water, fire, air: these are the symbolic elements that compose the world. Earth usually has the connotations of
nurturing life. Water may purify, and flowing rivers represent the flow of life; but water may also destroy when it is
uncontrolled, as in a flood. Fire represents destruction, but it can also purify and make way for the new. Air is the spiritual
element; words denoting the spirit are often derived from the words for wind.
The other term for archetypal criticism is myth criticism. Literary critics, poets, and storytellers all use myths in the
creation and interpretation of literature. This reflects their belief that the old myths, far from being falsehoods, reveal eternal
truths about human nature.

Most people would identify the current era of literature as the modern period; surprisingly, literary critics and
historians do not. Contemporary literature (1945 to the present) is called Postmodernist. Modernism as a literary term is
applied to the writers of the first half of the twentieth century who experimented with forms of writing that broke age-old
traditions: writers like T.S. Eliot, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf, Langston Hughes, and William Faulkner. These writers
viewed human beings as trapped in tragic paradoxes that could only be expressed by difficult and unorthodox styles. The
writings of the modernists are regarded as classics of the twentieth century, but contemporary writing has moved beyond
them. The tragic stance has given way to irony, and the break up of the culture is treated with sardonic humor. Since 1945
everything is disposable: books, culture, social mores, even-with nuclear weapons- planet Earth itself. Television, with its
thousands of stories and its parodies of literary classics, cuts against the privileging of any story as a work of art. In the
Postmodern Age, there is no literature, there are only stories; there is no wisdom, there is only information, and information
is, almost by definition, disposable.
Tom Stoppard's play Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead illustrates some of the principal qualities of
Postmodern literature. Aristotle's notion of the noble hero is undercut by two bumbling antiheroes who don't have enough
individual identity to be able to tell themselves apart. They intrude from the margins of Shakespeare's Hamlet, wander and
wonder aimlessly, and are finally packed off to a meaningless execution, disposable tools in a nasty internecine conflict.
Shakespeare's play has form and purpose; the hero has a role to play in life, even though he may have doubted this at the
beginning of the play. Stoppard's heroes make jokes about death, about fate, about everything. Stoppard's plot doesn't really
go anywhere because like Pirandello's six characters and Beckett's two tramps, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are characters
in search of a plot. Worse, they are characters in search of personalities. In the film version, pages of dramatic scripts float
and swirl about all the scenes like autumn leaves or trash escaped from the recycling bin. The tragic world of Hamlet is
subverted by the ironic Postmodern interlopers, proving that even a mighty Shakespearean text can be deconstructed, that is,
reduced to meaninglessness. Deconstruction is the movement in criticism that best expresses the Postmodern consciousness.
It has supplanted New Criticism in most of the literature departments of American colleges and universities.
Deconstruction might be regarded as the antithesis of formalism. Where the formalist critic seeks to demonstrate the
organic unity of a literary work, the deconstructionist tries to show how attempts at unified meaning are doomed to failure by
the nature of language itself. Thus, to deconstruct a literary work is to show that it is self-contradictory.

Originating in a radical skepticism about the capacity of language to mean anything, deconstruction thrives on the
paradoxes of twentieth century thought. As Freudian psychology destroyed the notion that the conscious self controls the
person, as Einsteinian physics undermined ideas of objectivity, deconstruction assaults the belief that language is unequivocal
in its meaning and that literary works have a stable meaning intended by the author. Formalist critics accepted the intentional
fallacy because they thought that the literary text could stand on its own without reference to authorial intention, but for the
deconstructionist literary texts crumble into contradictions under analysis.
Before deconstruction became a trend in criticism, even before the word deconstruction entered the language,
Lawrence Durrell (1912-1990), wrote what might be regarded as the classic deconstructive narrative, The Alexandria
Quartet. Completed in 1960 and composed of four novels that relate the same events from different points of view, the
Quartet does not attempt to establish one version of the story as definitive. Rather, in a relativistic universe perspective rules
the world: one step to the left or right and the whole picture changes.

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Feminist Criticism
During the 1960s a new school of criticism arose from the struggles for women's rights. While social and economic
justice were the most obvious goals of the feminist cause, many women realized that the roots of the inequality were cultural.
This perception led to the development of feminist literary criticism. Using psychological, archetypal, and sociological
approaches, feminist criticism examines images of women and concepts of the feminine in myth and literature.
Feminist critics have shown that literature reflects a patriarchal, or male dominated, perspective of society.
Patriarchalism is an ideology that causes women to be depicted in two ways: as goddesses when they serve the patriarchal
society in the role of virtuous wives and mothers as prostitutes and witches when they do not. Plays and novels often reveal
both views of women. Thornton Wilder parodies these stereotypes with the characters of Mrs. Antrobus and Lily Sabina in
the play The Skin of Our Teeth. Wilder does not spare the patriarchal Mr. Antrobus, whose foibles are plain for all the
audience to see.
A fresh approach to the investigation of literature, feminist criticism often focuses on characters and issues that have
been neglected or marginalized in previous studies. So much has been written about Prince Hamlet, that feminist
interpretations of the motivations and conflicts of Queen Gertrude and Ophelia are often striking in their originality.
Similarly, Charlotte Gilman-Perkins "The Yellow Wallpaper" brings feminist criticism to the foreground. It is this freshness
of approach that makes feminist criticism one of the most exciting contemporary approaches to literature.
As a form of sociological criticism, feminist criticism shares some qualities with Marxist approaches. Both are
critical of society, as it is presently constituted. Both are concerned with the lives of those oppressed or marginalized by the
dominant culture. Both investigate literature as a means of bringing about changes in attitudes and ultimately in society.

The Philosophical Approach

3. Moral or Humanistic Approach

• Literature is viewed to discuss man and its nature.
• It presents man as essentially rational; that is, endowed with intellect and freewill; or that the piece does not
misinterpret the true nature of man.
• The approach is close to “morality” of literature, to questions of ethical goodness or badness.

Central Questions to ask?

• What behaviors do the characters display that the author wants us to think are “right”? How can you tell?
• What behavior is “wrong”? How can you tell?
• What religious or ethical beliefs does the text deal with directly? Are there any religions or philosophies
mentioned specifically in the text?
• What religious or ethical beliefs or philosophies does the author seem to favor? How can you tell?
• Matthew Arnold -- argued that works must have "high seriousness"
• Plato -- insisted that literature must “exhibit moralism and utilitarianism”
• Horace - felt literature should be "delightful and instructive"
• This approach is useful for such works as Alexander Pope's "An Essay on Man," which does present an
obvious moral philosophy.
• Question like: what is the philosophy embedded in the story?
• It is also useful when considering the themes of works.
• This approach is useful for such works as Alexander Pope's "An Essay on Man," which does present an obvious
moral philosophy.
• Question like: what is the philosophy embedded in the story?
• It is also useful when considering the themes of works.
• Detractors argue that such an approach can be too "judgmental."
• Some believe literature should be judged primarily (if not solely) on its artistic merits, not its moral or philosophical

The philosophical (or moral) approach to literature evaluates the ethical content of literary works and concerns itself
less with formal characteristics. Philosophical criticism always assumes the seriousness of literary works as statements of
values and criticisms of life, and the philosophical critic judges works on the basis of his or her articulated philosophy of life.
Assuming that literature can have a good effect on human beings by increasing their compassion and moral sensitivity, this
form of criticism acknowledges that books can have negative effects on people as well. For this reason, philosophical critics
will sometimes attack authors for degenerate, decadent, or unethical writings.
While this description may make philosophical critics seem similar to censors, these critics rarely call for burning or
banning of books. Unlike censors, they try to deal with the whole literary work rather than with passages taken out of
context. Some people might criticize J .D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye because Holden Caulfield is a poor role model.
The book might also be attacked because of its profane language. In fact, these aspects of the novel have led to its being
banned in many school districts throughout the United States. Although the philosophical critic may find both of these
aspects of the novel disturbing, he or she might still believe that, on balance, the book was to be commended for its
indictment of hypocrisy and materialism. For the philosophical critic, it is not a question of objectionable characters and
passages; it is a question of the totality of the work. Instead of banning books that they find to be without redeeming social
merit, philosophical critics write scathing reviews explaining why they consider the books they are attacking to be decadent
or unethical. In the twentieth century, philosophical critics have tended toward a humanistic belief in reason, order, and
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restraint. This explains their reluctance to ban books despite their moral concerns: if human beings are rational, as the
philosophical critic believes, they will listen to reason when it is spoken; and they will reject evil and embrace the good.

The Psychological Approach

The psychological approach has been one of the most productive forms of literary inquiry in the twentieth century.
Developed in the late 1800s and early 1900s by Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) and his followers, psychological criticism has
led to new ideas about the nature of the creative process, the mind of the artist, and the motivations of characters.
Freud's principal ideas are essential to an understanding of modern literature and criticism. Although the works of
Freud consist of many complex volumes, there are four main ideas that have been so influential that it is hard to believe they
were not always with us.

The Unconscious
According to Freud, human beings are not conscious of all their feelings, urges, and desires because most of mental
life is unconscious. Freud compared the mind to an iceberg: only a small portion is visible; the rest is below the waves of the
sea. Thus, the mind consists of a small conscious portion and a vast unconscious portion.

Observing the conservative, prudish upper middle classes of the late nineteenth century, Freud came to the
conclusion that society demands restraint, order, and respectability and that individuals are forced to repress (or sublimate)
the libidinous and aggressive drives. These repressed desires, however, emerge in dreams and in art. The artist and the
dreamer are both creators; both have a need to express themselves by creating beautiful or terrifying images and narratives.
But the lust and aggression may not be represented directly. This leads to the use of symbols and subtexts in dreams and

The Tripartite Psyche

Freud developed his psychoanalytic theory around three principles: the ego, the id, and the superego. The ego is
conscious and represents the part of the mind that interacts with the environment and with other people in social situations.
As the conscious waking self, the ego is the reasonable, sane, and mature aspect of the mind capable of mastering impulses
and dealing effectively with the stresses of daily life. Common parlance may show disrespect for the "big ego," but for Freud
the supercilious attitude denoted by this phrase would, paradoxically, be an indication - of a weak ego. The id is unconscious
and is comprised of the basic drives of hunger, thirst, pleasure, and aggression. The id is removed from reality, that is, from
the outer world of society and environment. The id is the mind of the infant, demanding instant gratification, incapable of
tolerating the delayed gratification that makes the ego socially acceptable. At first, Freud thought that the id had only one
principle, the pleasure principle, also known as the libido or sex drive. However, he found he could not account for
aggression, violence, and self-destructiveness without postulating a second principle, the aggressive drive, also known as the
death wish. The superego is the final part of the tripartite psyche. Representing parentally instilled moral attitudes, the
superego may seem to be like the conscience. Like the id, however, the superego is largely unconscious. Sometimes the
superego is thought to represent an idealized image (ego-ideal) towards which the ego strives. During the normal course of
development, an individual gains in ego strength and is able to master basic drives and mediate the demands of the id, the
superego, and the environment.
Many works of literature contain characters who embody mental forces. Some of these works were written long
before Freud formalized his psychological theory. Three famous works of Victorian literature were published at about the
time Freud was developing his ideas: Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll
and Mr. Hyde (1886), and Joseph Conrad's "The Secret Sharer" (1912). Probably the most notorious id character ever
created, Mr. Hyde incarnates the aggressive drive of the unconscious; however, Dr. Jekyll makes it clear in his statement of
the case that he admired Hyde's tremendous love of life. In a similar way, the captain in Conrad's story recognizes that
Leggatt has killed a man, but he allows Leggatt to swim to a nearby island because he admires the freedom and self-
possession of Leggatt. Both Dr. Jekyll and the captain live in L-shaped dwellings: like Freud's iceberg, part of the dwelling is
seen and part remains hidden. Wilde's Dorian Gray resorts to hiding his portrait (which shows his moral state) in the attic. In
each of these works, an ego character must mediate between the social environment and the desires of the id character. The
id is not so much immoral as amoral. It is the way in which the ego character deals with the drives of the id that constitutes
the moral action of the story.

The Oedipus Complex

In Greek myth, Oedipus was a king of Thebes who, having been abandoned in childhood and consequently ignorant
of his own identity, unknowingly killed his father and married his mother. In describing the psychosexual development of
children, Freud analyzed the powerful feelings that develop between mother and son. Freud believed that boys develop
strong attractions to their mothers during the phallic period (3-6), with a corresponding rivalry developing between the boy
and his father. Usually these conflicts are resolved as the boy matures and develops love interests outside the home, but
some neuroses of adult life are supposed to result from insufficiently resolved Oedipal conflicts.
The Oedipus Complex has been very controversial and some psychoanalysts have modified or rejected it. Alfred
Adler (1870-1937), one of Freud's pupils, reinterpreted the Oedipus Complex when he developed his own theory of the
Inferiority Complex. Adler believed that the primary motivation for human beings is not the libido, as Freud had posited, but
the will to power. For Adler, then, the Oedipus Complex is essentially a power struggle between the boy and the father, in
which the boy tries to overcome feelings of inferiority by successfully capturing the mother's attention. Adler also coined the
term masculine protest to refer to the rebellion of by young women (and some young men) against the inferior status that
women have in many societies. Masculine protest consists of aggressive behavior towards others in an attempt to allay
feelings of inferiority.

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Writers were interested in the powerful conflicts that arise in families long before Freud, but writers of the twentieth
century exploring these conflicts in their works will be labeled Freudian whether they acknowledge the influence of Freud or
not. D.H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers explores the influence of a possessive mother on her sons; the same author's story "
The Rocking- Horse Winner" depicts a boy who believes he can win his mother's love by being lucky in gambling on
racehorses. Frank O'Connor's "My Oedipus Complex" is a humorous treatment of Freud's ideas. The same author's
"Masculine Protest" makes use of the Adlerian notion of the inferiority complex.
The literature of the past has been reexamined in the light of psychoanalysis. Freud himself started this trend when
he named a complex after Oedipus: this reinterpreted the play. In fact, the play was profoundly psychological in its original
conception. Oedipus goes to Delphi and receives, prophecies from the gods: what better way to express the working of the
unconscious? Jocasta tells Oedipus that many men have dreamed of sleeping with their mothers: dreams do reveal
unconscious desires. Finally, having sorted out his identity, Oedipus, analyst and patient in one paradoxical person, blinds
himself and leaves the stage to wander the world, a sadder and a wiser man.
Since the late 1940s Shakespeare's Hamlet has been interpreted as having an Oedipal Complex. He expresses love
for his mother, and seems obsessed by the idea of Claudius and Gertrude sleeping together. His jealousy and aggression
towards Claudius are overt. Of course, c Claudius is not Hamlet's father but his stepfather. Hamlet idealizes and adores his
real father. These facts do not deter the psychological interpreters. Perhaps the concept of masculine protest is as, applicable
to the playas the Oedipal conflict. Hamlet feels that Gertrude is weak; worse, he feels implicated in her weakness. Much of
the play dwells on Hamlet's feelings of weakness and inferiority, and his aggressive behavior at the end may be interpreted as
masculine protest.
Poets, dreamers, and madmen all tap the fountainhead of the unconscious, the source not only of aggressions and
desires but of the will to live. The psychological approach to literature delves into the symbolic fictions that arise from the
primordial springs of the imagination and attempts to explain them to the rational, waking selves who inhabit the daylight

The Sociological Approach

4. Sociological Approach
Literature is viewed as the expression of man with a given social situation which is reduced to discussions on economics,
in which men are somewhat simplistically divided into “the haves and the haves not”, thus passing into the “proletarian
approach” which tends to underscore the conflict between the two social classes.

 They believe that the Social conditions and notions of the origins and cultures of humanity affect
 What does the writer seem to like or dislike about this society?
Central Sociological Questions:
 What sort of society does the author describe? (How is it set up? What rules are there?
 What happens to people who break them? Who enforces the rules?)
 What changes do you think the writer would like to make in the society?
 And how can you tell?
 What sorts of pressures does the society put on its members?
 How do the members respond to this pressure?
Sociological criticism focuses on the relationship between literature and society. Literature is always produced in a
social context. Writers may affirm or criticize the values of the society in which they live, but they write for an audience and
that audience is society. Through the ages the writer has performed the functions of priest, prophet and entertainer: all of
these are important social roles. The social function of literature is the domain of the sociological critic.
Even works of literature that do not deal overtly with social issues may have social issues as subtexts. The
sociological critic is interested not only in the stated themes of literature, but also in the latent themes. Like the historical
critic, the sociological critic attempts to understand the writer's environment as an important element in the writer's work.
Like the moral critic, the sociological critic usually has certain values by which he or she judges literary work.

5. Cultural Approach
Literature is seen as the manifestations and vehicles of a nation’s or race’s culture and tradition.

It includes the entire complex of what goes under “culture” - the technological, artistic, sociological, ideological
aspects; and considers then literary piece in the total cultural milieu.

 The thrust is to make full use of the reciprocal function between culture and literature.
 One of the richest ways to arrive at the culture of the people.
 The most pleasurable ways of appreciating the literature of the people.

Central Questions for Cultural Approach

 What particular cultural practices, traditions are shown in the literary piece?
 How does the author present these culture or traditions?
 What is the attitude of the author to these culture and traditions? How about your reaction?

Marxist Criticism
One of the most important forms of sociological criticism is Marxist criticism. Karl Marx (1818-1883) developed a
theory of society, politics, and economics called dialectical materialism. Writing in the nineteenth century, Marx criticized
the exploitation of the working classes, or proletariat, by the capitalist classes who owned the mines, factories, and other
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resources of national economies. Marx believed that history was the story of class struggles and that the goal of history was a
classless society in which all people would share the wealth equally. This classless society could only come about as a result
of a revolution that would overthrow the capitalist domination of the economy.
Central to Marx's understanding of society is the concept of ideology. As an economic determinist, Marx thought
that the system of production was the most basic fact in social life. Workers created the value of manufactured goods, but
owners of the factories reaped most of the economic rewards. In order to justify and rationalize this inequity, a system of
understandings or ideology was created, for the most part unconsciously. Capitalists justified their taking the lion's share of
the rewards by presenting themselves as better people, more intelligent, more refined, more ethical that the workers. Since
literature is consumed, for the most part, by the middle classes, it tends to support capitalist ideology, at least in countries
where that ideology is dominant.
Marxist critics interpret literature in terms of ideology. Writers who sympathize with the working classes and their
struggle are regarded favorably. Writers who support the ideology of the dominant classes are condemned. Naturally, critics
of the Marxist school differ in breadth and sympathy the way other critics do. As a result, some Marxist interpretations are
more subtle than others. Take the Marxist approach to Shakespeare's The Tempest for example. The standard Marxist party
line would be to interpret Prospero as the representative of European imperialism. Prospero has come to the island from
Italy. He has used his magic (perhaps a symbol of technology) to enslave Caliban, a native of the island. Caliban resents
being the servant of Prospero and attempts to rebel against his authority. Since Prospero is presented in a favorable light, the
Marxist critic might condemn Shakespeare as being a supporter of European capitalist ideology. A more subtle Marxist critic
might see that the play has far more complexity, and that Caliban has been invested with a vitality that makes it possible for
audiences to sympathize with him. Certainly, the Marxist view of the play brings out ideas that might be overlooked by other
kinds of critics and, thus, contributes to the understanding of the play.
Sociological criticism, then, reflects the way literature interacts with society. Sociological critics show us how
literature can function as a mirror to reflect social realities and as a lamp to inspire social ideals.


abstruse: difficult to understand; abstract

Adlerian: of, or relating to, the psychological theories of Alfred Adler ( 1870 -1937) stressing the will to power
as the primary human motivation
aesthetics: the philosophical study of beauty and the arts
amoral: without a sense of morality
anagnorisis: the moment of revelation at the end of a tragedy
antithesis: polar opposite
artifact: an object made by human beings for an intended use
criterion: a standard or guideline for evaluation
deconstruction: a literary approach that seeks to undermine the notion that a literary text has a fixed meaning
ego: the Freudian term for the conscious, waking self
epiphany: a sudden moment of clarity or recognition
existentialism: philosophy stressing the radical freedom of the individual; according to this philosophy human life
has no meaning except that created by individuals
expressive theory: the idea that a work of art emanates from the experience and imagination of the artist
extrinsic: exterior; approaches to criticism that depend upon non-literary criteria
Freudian: of, or pertaining to, the psychological theories of Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) stressing the libido as
the primary human motivation
hamartia: a flaw in character resulting in moral blindness
hubris: arrogant pride which leads to a fall
id: the aspect of the unconscious mind that encompasses the libido and aggressive drive
ideology: intrinsic system of understandings which may be conscious or unconscious
inferiority complex: lack of self -esteem deriving from feelings of powerlessness
integrity: wholeness; the parts of a literary work are assumed by New Critics to constitute a meaningful whole
intentional fallacy: the theory that an author's purpose in creating a work is irrelevant to the interpretation of the work
intrinsic: interior; the formalist approach to criticism emphasizes purely literary criteria
irony: a technique in which the expected is subverted by the unexpected
libido: Freudian term for the pleasure principle or sexual drive
mimetic theory: the idea that a work of art imitates life
modernism: literary movement of the first half of the twentieth century characterized by experimentalism and
New Criticism: a twentieth century formalistic approach emphasizing organicism, irony, and tension
objective theory: the idea that a work of art is to be analyzed by intrinsic criteria
Oedipus Complex: the Freudian idea that young boys have libidinous feelings for their mothers with corresponding feelings
of guilt and aggression for their fathers
organicism: the New Critical idea of the work of art as a unity that transcends the sum of its parts
pathetic fallacy: the New Critical rejection of effect on the audience as a criterion for evaluation
postmodernism: the literary period since 1950 characterized by decentralization, skepticism and parody
pragmatic theory: the idea that the rhetorical effect of a work on the audience is the central criterion for evaluation
roman a clef: [Fr. novel with a key] a novel in which the characters are based on real people whose names have
been changed
superego: aspect of psyche that incorporates parentally-instilled morals

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Figure of Speech Definition / Description Example

Simile comparison using LIKE, AS, She acts like a queen.

Metaphor subtle comparison, no “as…” She is the apple of my eyes.

Personification Giving human qualities to The mosquitoes are rehearsing their war song.
inanimate objects
Hyperbole An exaggeration to emphasize She cried a bucketful of tears when she lost him.
not to deceive
Apostrophe Addressing a statement to “My God, my Lord, you are my last hope!”
someone long dead or absent or
abstraction as if present
Allusion Quoting from the Bible, history “I am the way, the truth, and the life”
or literature
Paradox seemingly absurd but true The child is the father of the man.
Litotes Understatement / de- It’s not a bad accomplishment!
Onomatopoeia sounds of words suggest the The snake hisses in the mouse’s hole.
Metonymy substitution Have you taken Rizal?
Synecdoche part - to - whole It is difficult to teach a hungry stomach.
Symbolism representation The old man is alone in the sea.
“And the mysterious worm crawls and enter the
chamber …”
Climax succession of action I listened, I heard, I acted, I did.
Irony opposite Backbiters are such nice people.

Guerin, Wilfred L.,et al. A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. 3rd. ed. New
York: Oxford UP, 1992.

Lynn, Steven. Texts and Contexts. New York: Harper Collins, 1994.

Meyer, Michael, ed. The Bedford Introduction to Literature. New York: St. Martins, 1994.

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