Psychology just ties everything together

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I'm starting to truely believe that every single literary criticism and literature class ties into each other, each of these things just can't seem to survive on it's own.

"The three possible minds to which the psychological critic customarily refers are the author's mind, a character's mind, and the audence's mind." (Paris 216).

"Character study is not legitimate when as in most psycological criticism, it talks about literary characters as though they are real people" (Paris 216).

"Most literary critics do not - any more - treat liteary characters as real people" (Paris 216).

Firstly, I laughed out loud when I read this (and this is where lit crit once again ties back into American Lit). Recently we did a close reading exercise. A few of the people did a close reading on characters of the book that we were reading at the time. Dr. Jerz kept stressing that you can't do a close reading or analysis on a character in a book because they are not real, (but you can do this in a research paper). Whe we do research papers we are looking into what other people thought a certain character was portraying. Basically literary critics never look at characters as real people, but why does the audience see characters as real people? I have a friend who honestly thinks Edward Cullen of the Twilight Series is real. She has told me that on a sunny day Edward probably won't be out and about. Over the years my friends and I have had crushes on book characters. Why do we do this? I also think that this isn't limited to literary works either, it extends to tv characters as well. Back when Friends was around I remember talking with friends about Joey and Rachel's relationship, some people wanted them to get together and others didn't. I guess when we feel we can relate to certain characters they be come real to us. I think this quote kind of backs that idea up. "When we are immersed in the indomitable mental reality of a character we adopt his perspective and experience his feelings as though they were our own." (Paris 221).

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Good use of quotes, Sue. I know what you mean about crushing on characters. I honestly like Edward Cullen as well. I think that one thing that Stephenie Meyer does well is making her characters realistic. The way Bella describes Edward, I feel like I could construct a picture of him and feel her feelings about him. It is truly amazing what a good book can do to your emotions. You get the emotional rollercoaster ride without even really being involved.

Ellen Einsporn said:

Sue, you raise some good questions. While the characters we read about may not be real, they can certainly be realistic. Actually, I can't think of any successful character that I've read about that doesn't have some sort of realistic quality about him/her. Even if you write a science fiction novel where your character is an alien with three arms and one foot and speaks by blowing bubbles of varying size shape and color out of his nose, this character should still have something "realistic" that the reader can relate to. I talked on James's (which you should check out at about the need to make characters believable. Even if your character is an alien, you might be able to draw in your human audience by having him struggle with problems that we all can relate to. Maybe your bubble speaking alien has trouble creating bubbles like everyone else: while most other aliens talk in green, white, and red bubbles, your character talks in blue bubbles. OK, I need to stop there because I'm getting way to into this. haha. I hope this helped :)

I agree with what Ellen so eloquently comments here. It isn't an issue of whether or not the characters are real, we all know that they are not, it is their ability to seem real to the reader. They have to seem real or else the story is pointless. Why would anyone want to read a book, or watch a T.V. show/movie, and not for those few moments get immersed into another life or world? It is important for these characters to feel real to us, even if deep down we know they are not.

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This page contains a single entry by published on March 17, 2009 11:28 AM.

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