Literary criticism is the study, evaluation, and interpretation of literature. Modern literary criticism is often informed by literary theory, which is the philosophical discussion of its methods and goals. Though the two activities are closely related, literary critics are not always, and have not always been, theorists.
Psychoanalytic theory analysis based on the idea that modern psychology has influenced how we interpret art and literature. It is influenced by noted psychologists such as Sigmund Freud and Jacques Lacan.
Biographical analysis relates the author's life and thoughts to her works. However, this theory should not be equated to mean the work is representative of the author's life.
Mythological theory combines the insights from anthropology, psychology, history, and comparative religion. Archetype plays a large role in this form of literary criticism. An archetype is “a symbol, character, situation, or image that evokes a deep universal response,”
Historical literary criticism investigates the social, cultural,and intellectual contexts that created that work. A key goal for historical critics is to understand the effect of a literary work upon its original readers.
Moral literary criticism was created by the Greeks over a thousand years ago. Plato may have given the first detailed and lengthy literary criticism. These viewpoints continue to influence Western culture.
Marxist criticism analyzes class differences, as well as the implications and complications of the capitalist system. It is based on a theory by philosopher and economist Karl Marx, author of the The Communist Manifesto.
Criticism creates negative connotations. Literary criticism takes a balanced approach. In literary criticism the positives and negatives of a literary work are used to arrive at a deliberate assessment.
Karl Marx, in addition to being a philosopher, was also a literary critic. He wrote about the relationship between politics, art, and economics.
Literary criticism is altered by different theories. Among these theories are formalist theory, psychoanalytic theory, historical theory, mythological theory, sociological theory, reader response theory, and deconstruction.
A New Critic approach to literary criticism contends that literature has little or no connection with the author’s intention, life, or social/historical situation. This is the antithesis of biographical theory.