What is criticism

What is Criticism and Terms of Literary Criticism?

What is criticism : “Criticism is the branch of study concerned with defining, classifying, expounding and evaluating works of literature.”

What is Criticism and Terms of Literary Criticism?

‘To criticize’,  etymological, means ‘to analyze’, and latter ‘To judge’. Critical should be distinguished from criticism since it concepts rather than works.it is a philosophical activity which should underlie criticism but, again should not be regarded as part of it ‘Extrinsic criticism’ has been used for that criticism which relies heavily  on information drawn from outside the literary work, and is contrasted with an ‘nitric criticism’ which does not.

The distinction of ends, which marks off various kinds of meta criticism, may be matched by a broad distinction of means: objective or subject meta criticism can obviously attain objectivity more easily than criticism but has to be based on the latter.

Various Terms of Literary Criticism

There are many types of criticism like……..

(1) Pragmatic Criticism

(2) ExpressiveCriticism

(3) ObjectiveCriticism

(4) Mimetic Criticism

(5) Practical Criticism

(6) Impressionistic Criticism

(7) Applied Criticism

(8) Deus Ex Machine

(9) Plot


(11) Diction

(12) Thought

(13) Song/melody

(14) Spectacle

(15) Tragedy

(16) Three Unities

(17) Tragic Hero

(18) Hamartia

(19) Catharsis

Lets us discuss one by one……

(1) Pragmatic Criticism: 

Pragmatic criticism is concerned first leading, with ethical impact any literary  text has upon an audience. It believe that dat. The works as something which is constructed in order to achieved certain effects on the audience. Effect such as aesthetic pleasure, instruction, or special feelings.

Plato provided a foundantial and absolute argument for pragmatic criticism. Pragmatic  criticism itself can be an effective means of interpretation or repression practical criticism is perhaps most dangerous when knowledge of certain “moral” literature replaces or supplants.  The need for virtuous  action. Despite the fact that pragmatic criticism originated in the Roman times, Philip Sidney, a Renaissance critic, is one of its most influential theorists.

For example:

Sidney, poetry has a clear cut purpose to audience. Good poets are those who write. Both to delight and teach, or in other words, for delightful instruction.

(2) Expressive Criticism: 

Previously “Expressive” is a German movement in painting but rather on, it extended its access to other literary arts too. Expressive criticism treats a literary work primarily in relation to the author. It defined poetry as an expression, or overflow, or utterance of feelings recollected in tranquility is taken as the ground idea of the expressive theory of art.

The three key concepts associated with this movement are……

(1) Imagination

(2) Genius

(3) Emotion

For example:

William Wordsworth preface to the second edition of lyrical Ballads is a major expression of the spirit of English Romanticism.

(3) Objective Criticism: 

Objective criticism approaches the work as something which stands free from poet, audience, and the environment world. It describes the literary products a self enough object or as a analysis as difficulty, coherence integrity and the interrelation of its part element.

For example:

This is the characteristic approach of a number of important critic. Since the 1920, including the new critic and the Chicago school of criticism.

(4) Mimetic Criticism:

‘Mimetic’ is derived from the Greek word ‘ Imitation: ‘mimetic’ means creative copy. Mimetic criticism views the literary work as an imitation, or reflection, or representation of the world and human life and the primary criterion applied to a work is that of the “truth” of its representation to the subjects it represents, or should represents.

For example:

This mode of criticism, which first appeared in Plato and Aristotle is characteristic of modern theories of literary realism. Greek mimetic school is based upon the ideas expressed by Plato and Aristotle.

Plato regards the artist as an imitator of imitations’. The painters work is thrice removed from the “essential nature” of a thing. The artist imitates the physical object, which is a faint copy of ideas of the thing. The school, also imitates the external word but the imitation is of father poets like Greek & ancient poets, & on purpose. For the poets of this school. Purpose is more important than imitation.

(5) Practical & Applied Criticism:

Practical criticism or Applied criticism concerns itself with the discussion of particular works and writers; in an Applied critique the theoretical principles controlling the mode of the analysis, interpretation, and evolution are often left implicit, or brought in only as the occasion demands.

For example:

Among the more influential work of applied criticism in England and America are the literary essay of Dryden in the Restoration.

(6) Impressionistic Criticism:

Impressionistic criticism means personal Impression. Impressionistic criticism attempts to represent in words the felt qualities of a particular work, and to express the attitude and feeling responses, the impression, that the work directly evoke from the critic.

For example:

On William Ha3lit put it in his essay “on Genius and common sense”. “You decide from feeling and not from reason; that is, from the impression of a number of thing on the mind”

(7) Three Unities: Action, Time and Place:

(1)The unity of action: a play should have one single plot or action to sustain the interest of the spectators and it can also lead him to proper purgation.

(2) The unity of time: the action in a play should not exceed the single revolution of the sun.

(3) The unity of place: a play should cover a single physical space and should not attempt to compress geography, nor should the stage represent more than one place.

(8)Deus Ex Machina:

The term deus ex machina refers to the circumstance where an implausible concept or a divine character is introduced into a storyline for the purpose of resolving its conflict and procuring an interesting outcome.

The use of deus ex machina is discouraged for the reason that the presence of it within a plot is viewed as a sign of an ill-structured plot. The explanation that the critics provide for bearing the above stated view is that the writer’s sudden resort to random, insupportable and unbelievable twists for the purpose of procuring an ending highlights the inherent deficiencies of the plot. Hence, deus ex machina is a rather debatable and often criticized form of literary device.

The term is Latin for “god out of the machine” and has its origins in ancient Greek theatre. It denotes scenes in which a crane (machine) was used to lower actors or statues playing a god or gods (deus) onto the stage to set things right, usually near the end of the play.

 (9) Plot:

A plot is an account of the ACTION and all of the motivations lying behind the action in a literary work. A plot may include such elements as the “exposition,” where the SETTING is established, the CHARACTERS are introduced, and background information is provided; the “CONFLICT”; the “climax,” where the action comes to its moment of greatest tension; and the “denouement,” where the action finally resolves. The Master plots series of reference books lists plot summaries for many classic literary works; check it out!

(10) Song/ Melody:

The definition of a melody is a sequence of pleasing sounds that make up a particular musical phrase. An example of melody is the most memorable arrangement of sounds in a musical composition.

A pleasing succession or arrangement of sounds.

  1. Musical quality: the melody of verse.
  2. Music
  3. A rhythmically organized sequence of single tones so related to one another as to make up a particular phrase or idea.
  4. Structure with respect to the arrangement of single notes in succession.
  5. The leading part or the air in a composition with accompaniment.


Diction can be defined as style of speaking or writing determined by the choice of words by a speaker or a writer. Diction or choice of words separates good writing from bad writing. It depends on a number of factors. Firstly, the word has to be right and accurate. Secondly, words should be appropriate to the context in which they are used.

Lastly, the choice of words should be such that the listener or readers understand easily. Besides, proper diction or proper choice of words is important to get the message across. On the contrary, the wrong choice of words can easily divert listeners or readers which results in misinterpretation of the message intended to be conveyed.

Example: Keats in his “Ode to the Grecian Urn” uses formal diction to achieve a certain effect. He goes:

“Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter: therefore, ye soft pipes, play on”

Notice the use of formal “ye” instead of informal “you”. The formality here is due to the respect the urn inspires in Keats. In the same poem he says:

“Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the spring adieu.”
It is more formal to use “adieu” than to say “goodbye”.


In sharp contrast to Keats, John Donne uses colloquialism in his poem “The Sun Rising”:

“Busy old fool, unruly Sun,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windows, and through curtains, call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers’ seasons run?
Saucy pedantic wretch,”

Treating the sun as a real human being, the poet speaks to the sun in an informal way using colloquial expressions. He rebukes the sun because the sun has appeared to spoil the good time he is having with his beloved. Further, he orders the “saucy pedantic sun” to go away.

(12) Tragedy: 

Tragedy is kind of drama that presents a serious subject matter about human suffering and corresponding terrible events in a dignified manner. Aristotle defines Tragedy in his famous work “Poetics” as:

“Tragedy is an imitation of an action that is admirable, complete (composed of an introduction, a middle part and an ending), and possesses magnitude; in language made pleasurable, each of its species separated in different parts; performed by actors, not through narration; effecting through pity and fear the purification of such emotions.”

From the above definition, we can understand the objective of the Greek tragedies i.e. “…purification of such emotions” also called “catharsis”. Catharsis is a release of emotional tension, as after an overwhelming experience, that restores or refreshes the spirit.

Tragedy Examples

Below is the list of famous English tragedy writers along with their famous works.

A. Christopher Marlowe:

Marlowe was the first English dramatist worthy of the tradition of Greek tragedy. His characters of tragedies are the great men of history who become victims of their own fate.

Conclusion: Criticism means ‘To criticize’, ‘TO analysis’  and latter to judge’. There are many types of criticism like pragmatic, practical , mimetic & many more. No critic can ever from accurate judge men unless the possesses the Artistic vision.


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