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February 26, 2007

EL312: Characters are people, too

We are coming to see, among other things, that character is central in many realistic novels and that much of the characterization in such fiction escapes dramatic and thematic analysis and can be understood only in terms of its mimetic function. A careful examination of the nature of realistic fiction as modern criticism is coming to conceive it will show that in certain cases it is proper to treat literary characters as real people and that only by doing so can be fully appreciate the distinctive achievement of the genre. (217)

...a wordy way of saying that it's okay to analyze characters in the same way we analyze people because it just makes sense.

I tend to think that sometimes psychological criticism is a bit overdone. However, I'm glad to know that someone thinks it was worthwhile to sit down and write an essay to prove it to me rather than assuming it's true in everyone's minds.

I've been considering this on the grand scheme, too--all our critics have written about their particular ways of thinking in a way that is supposed to convince us that this is a valid (not always helpful or necessary) way of thinking. I feel like I'm put on a pedestal as a reader of criticism, that these authors write for critics and these critics write for me (and other critics). Maybe I won't agree with everything that they say, but maybe I don't have to.

I'm anxious to hear what everyone else has to say about this psychological take on mimesis since I know how easy it can be to slip into the Freud in all of us (is there a Freud in all of us? Maybe since Freud there has been a Freud in all of us...)

Paris, ''The Uses of Psychology'' -- Jerz EL312 (Literary Criticism)

Posted by KarissaKilgore at February 26, 2007 10:11 PM


Comments


"nature of realistic fiction as modern criticism is coming to conceive it will show that in certain cases it is proper to treat literary characters as real people and that only by doing so can be fully appreciate the distinctive achievement of the genre."

This part of the quote I think is a great justification of why it is okay to relate characters to ourselves and analyze their personalities and have the storyline be similar to the real world.

Posted by: Denamarie at February 28, 2007 9:22 PM


I too often place a lot of doubt into the different forms of literary criticism...this mimetic one for example. Sometimes I just think, "Are you serious? This isn't the point of the work at all!" But then, by doing that, I'm just falling right back into another form of lit crit, authorial intent. We'll never break the cycle.

That said, I liked the psychological look at characters and how we can, or should, relate to them. Although I didn't find this specific article to be the best to describe the importance of characters, I like the idea that they should be regarded as well when looking at a text, since they can have the most impact on the story and it's central meaning.

Posted by: Nessa at February 28, 2007 10:20 PM



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