ENG3U Grade 11 English Review Notes


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Analytic Literary Criticism (a.k.a. closed reading)






-must be objective

-relationships between categories provide evidence as to the text’s thematic structure


Linear structure:

-metaphor, simile, comparisons, models

-grammar, syntax

-resolve each sentence into its simplest grammatical form and components

-identify and account for syntactic variations

-syntax: sentence structure, way a sentence is organized, mechanics of a sentence

-oral reading: sentence patterns, discrepancies, between anticipated and actual expression. In this mode, every text has a narrator


-unknown terms

-known terms (multiple meanings)

-patterns of terms around the theme of the text

-literal and figurative meaning



-condition of time, space

-literal: time of day, season, duration

-historical context:



-social condition

-cultural perspective


-present in every text

-indicators of speaker/writer

-indicators of intended listeners



-mutual beliefs/comments

-relationship to text/audience


Imagery (patterns of repetition of words/phrases):

-literal (list, i.e. …red…..red…..red…red…)

-synonyms, euphemisms, contrast (two opposing ideas)

-synecdoche: part of the whole

-calling the police “the law”

-symbolism: words that signify something, range of reference beyond themselves


Form: all features which comprise the appearance of the text

-spaces and spacing

-line lengths, word separation

-sentence/structure breaks

-title, section, chapter

-paragraph, stanza

-quotation, refrain

-rhythm: meter, rhyme, sound repetitions, homonyms

-rhetorical devices: “dear reader”, hook audience, speech


Literary Devices



-used sparingly creates meaning and memory

-emphasis on those words


-humour or emphasis


-speaking to something absent or non-human as if it were present, alive, or able to


-”twinkle, twinkle, little star”


-repetition of vowel sounds when consonant sounds are unlike

-partial rhyme (slap dash)

-metonymy (a.k.a. synecdoche)

-use attribute of a subject or something related to it

-highlight a certain aspect or detail of the subject

-”the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world”


-story/poem that is more than it appears to be

-beneath more obvious meaning is a second, more serious level of thought (often to


-”animal farm”



-”he was a real romeo”


-second hand contact

-vitality and credibility to a poem


-apparent contradiction: actually true

-”alone in the crowd”


-irony, ridicules society for benefit

-not sarcasm or cynicism


-experience fully through all the senses


Major Formulas in Literature


Archetypal characters

-original pattern/model

-societal figures recognized from culture to culture

-matched in cultural pairs


1A) The Hero

-light, daytime, courage, mercy, justice (strenght, physical capability)

-society’s ideals at a particular time

-times of war: quick judgement

-times of peace: mercy, justice

-solution to society’s problems at any given time


1B) The Villain

-contrasts hero

-darkness, nighttime, cunning, selfishness, egotism, lack of morality

-like the hero

-strength, daring (rather than courage), ability to act not just think

-works against ideals of society


2A) Mother/Nurturer

-earth mother

-bear, nourish, take care of kids

-fiercely protect


2B) Father/Protector

-guards children as they grow

-teaches the ways of the world

-stern, demanding


3A) Ruler/Leader

-power and wealth



3B) Lackey

-could even overthrow leader


4) Wise Man (advisor or magician)

-repository of knowledge/wisdom of the past

-blind (through blindness can see the spiritual, etc.)

-see into the future

-wise women in some cultures


-oracles/high priestesses

-priest/medicine man


5) The fool

-person with little common sense

-inability to learn from practical things

-unjustifiably optimistic outlook on life

-sometimes is the hero, because fearless

-wise fool


6) Trickster

-jester/con artist

-clever, amusing, with the ability to say or do things the less eloquent can’t
-take advantage of the fool


7A) Saint


-good deeds, no harm


7B) Sinner

-guilt, desire for forgiveness

-different from villain


8) Adventurer

-sacrifice familial ties and familiar places for the desire of adventure

-many qualities of hero

-desire for excitement

-curious, questioning mind/spirit


9) Victim/Scapegoat

-made to offer himself to bear blame

-victim may be weak

-scapegoat can be courageous

-good may come from his suffering/death


10) Lover

-ruled by heart and not head

-governed by emotion

-rash/illogical decisions

-driven by an ideal of love that endangers his life

-give “all for love” and consider the exchange a bargain


7 Plots


1) Journey/Quest

-pursuit of ideal, objective, person, self-discovery

-major symbols: roads and rivers

-4 main stages


-actual journey

-discovery or accomplishment of quest

-transformation as result of accomplishment


2) Love Plot

-boy meets girl, love triangle, lover’s revenge, unrequited love

-not always a happily ever after

-symbolism: seasons/nature

-spring – love first blossoming

-summer – love in first bloom

-autumn – fading, withering love

-winter – absence of love


3) Hero vs. Villain

-classic pattern

-protagonist vs antagonist

-villain seems at first very powerful and even triumphs over hero

-hero wins in the end

-symbolism: white, light (hero); dark, storms, black (villain)


4) Man vs Nature

-story of single person’s battle against nature


-story of whole population against nature

-typically human beings survive (half of population)

-scars let from encounter

-natural force may be personified


5) The Race

-competition of equals (scholarships, jobs sports)

-race against time: kidnapping, saving a dying person


6) The Test

-temptation or initiation

-specific deeds redeem horrible past actions

-not frankenstein’s monster but Dr F for creating him

-protagonist is usually capable mentally or physically of winning

-one flaw or weakness


7) Outcast/Lost Child

-trying to find place in society/group

-many grief causing incidents

-usually satisfying conclusions

-central figure finds and reaches some form of acceptance


Settings and Symbols

1) Road/River

-life’s journey/road of life


2) Water

-passage across or through body of water


-flowing water=passage of time


3) Garden

-eden, paradise, innocence


4) Daytime/Light

-intelligence, goodness, justice, understanding


5) Nighttime/Darkness

-unknown, evil, mystery, ignorance


6) Seasons:

-passage of time, stages of life, relationships


7) Times of Day

-stages of a person’s life


8) Fire

-place of cleansing, purification


9) Mountain

-great challenges in life


10) Sun, moon, stars (a.k.a. Heavens)

-orderly cycle of life


11) Circles

-simple or complex relationships with other geometric figure

-lack of beginnings and endings suggests a state of wholeness and union


Reader’s Response


-apperception: creating linkages to from previous knowledge


-seeks to explain diversity and divergence of readers’ responses to literary works


-text contains gaps filled in by the reader. ideas aren’t in the text but incited


-implied reader: response inviting structures


-actual reader: responses guided by own experiences


-not passive recipient of ideas author has planted in text


-reader is active, creating own meaning


-fiction is reader’s own experience, how readers criticize text

-active vs passive


-literary competence: anticipates what is to come. could be mistaken, but still creates meaning as an event that could have taken place


-interpretive community: share experiences and assumptions


-situating a particular text in historic communities (modern approach)


-assumptions could be because of deep seated personal desire


-readers become familiar with signals within the text


-informed readers know conventions works not with infinite interpretations


-transactional approach: text controls reader and reader controls text


-individual -> community


Psychoanalytical Criticism




-Theoretical framework, literature like dreams, fantasized fulfillment of wishes imagines, denied by reality or prohibited by standards of societal proprietary or morality


-forbidden, mainly sexual (“libidinal”) wishes come into conflict with and are repressed by the “censor” (the internalized representation within each individual of the societal standards) and are kept in the unconscious but are permitted by the censor to achieve a fantasized satisfaction in distorted forms that disguise their real motives from the conscious mind


-mental iceberg

-conscious: what you are aware of (10%)

-preconscious: ordinary memories, not conscious, readily brought into conscious


-unconscious: not directly accessible to awareness, urges, feelings, ideas take root,

and influence our actions and conscious awareness (75-80%)


-chief mechanisms that create desires:

-condensation: omission of parts of the unconscious material and the combining of

several elements into one

-displacement: the substitution for an unconscious object of desire by one that is

acceptable to conscious mind

-symbolism: the representation of repressed, mainly sexual, objects of desire by

nonsexual objects


-latent: disguised fantasies

-manifest: fantasy made acceptable by distortion


-id: libidinal

-superego: morality

-ego: negotiate real world, gratification, id’s desires, superego’s strictness


-id (“it”)

-irrational, primitive, basic desires and needs, feelings

-one rule: pleasure principle

-too strong: selfish, self-gratifying


-superego (“over-I”)

-last part of mind to develop

-moral part of the mind

-embodiment of parental values

-too strong: guilty, insufferably saintly


-ego (“I”)


-can’t always get what you want

-reality principle

-too strong: boring, cold, too rational


-freud applied to literature

-insight into common themes

-framework for character analysis

-does not contradict other schools of criticism, rather complements

-does not comment on aesthetic quality of work


Carl Jung & Mythological Criticism


-emphasis on collective unconscious, not individual


-human psyche

-personal conscious

-personal unconscious

-collective unconscious

-storehouse of knowledge, experiences, shared by the human race



Archetypes in Literature:



-the shadow

-darker side, prefer not to confront, aspects we dislike, villain/devil figure


-soul image, life force, motivation that cause one to act, only aware in dreams

or projection (see it as a characteristic in others)


-image we show to others, mask put on for outside world which may not be at

all how we view ourselves


-to become psychologically healthy adults, individuation must occur

-accept all sides of personality, even the parts disliked

-if you reject some part, you could project it onto someone else, seeing self as

incapable of doing wrong


Marxist Literary Theory


-Karl Marx, 19th cen. German philosopher and economist


-dialectical materialism: means of production control the foundation of a society’s institutions and beliefs


-those who control means of production (wealth) control society


-not designed as a literary analysis

-rather principles applied to literature

-reflection of ideologies of time period


-reflectionism: integral element of Marxist criticism assuming a text reflects society that produces it

-reverse: literature and art affect society

-how revolutions form


-interpellation: proletariat is manipulated to accept ideology of the bourgeoisie

-mode of production=prole (working class)

-control production=bourge


Marxist Theory


-moving force behind human history is economic system, as people’s lives are directly decided by economic circumstances


-society is shaped by “forces of production”


-economic conditions underlying a society are called material circumstances


-atmosphere that material circumstances create: historical situation


-the way society provides food, clothing, shelter, and other necessities create social relationships that become the foundation of society, thus means of production structures society

-house -> baker -> buyer

-farmer -> distributor -> buyer


-capitalism: economic system in which means of production, or the base, are privately owned by individuals or corporations to competitively produce goods and services for the public


-social and political and ideological systems generated by the base are referred to as the superstructure


-essentially divides people into 2 classes

-bourgeoisie: the owners

-own the property and therefore control means of production

-proletariat: the working class

-labour produces wealth for the bourg.

-segmented geographically (rich vs poor neighbourhood)


-marx argued that those who have control maintain their postions by the manipulation of politics, education, media, arts, and entertainment


-thought that eventually prole would notice unbalance and unleash revolution


-capitalism preys on insecurities of its consumers, as consumers and influentials (through interpellation) to compete with one another for material possessions (not necessarily material wealth)


-this idea results in commodification or valuing of material things not for their usefulness, but for their power to impress others (sing value)


-extreme focus on material acquisition is referred to as conspicuous consumption


-people who have money influence people who want want


Art and Literature Ideologies


-when cultural conditioning leads people to accept a system that is unfavourable to them, they are said to have developed a false consciousness


-art and literature are often used as forms of propaganda to reinforce this false consciousness thereby suggesting to prole that their situation is right and just


-literature is often viewed as a form of entertainment thus it may be used to maintain or manipulate the status quo by influencing an audience; thus literature is a great tool to serve the economic interests of the bourg.


-marxists critics identify the ideology of its works and points to its deficiencies


-any text, then, containing subject matter that can promote or criticize the historical aspects/circumstance in which it is set


-subject matter is presented sympathetically, a text may promote the ideologies of the time

-presented critically a text may depict the negative aspects of a socio-economic


-therefore the way in which literature is used has a significant impact on how a

society may react to social conditions




-gender differences, power, female experience


-western culture: fundamentally patriarchal

-imbalance of power, marginalizes women and their work


-this social structure is reflected in all aspects of culture, including literature

-feminist critiques aim to expose this ideology, and in doing so change it, so that women’s roles as characters and authors can be fully appreciated


-examines how female characters are portrayed, exposing the patriarchal ideology implicit in classic literature


-points out that attitudes and traditions reinforcing systematic masculine dominence are inscribed in its cannon



-gender traits, identity, behaviour=social construct, generated by patriarchal bias


-what is masculine and what is feminine?


-existential idea of who you are


-are you portrayed as the person you think you are?


-does your societal reflection parallel your individual reflection?


-do women – whether consciously or otherwise – portray themselves as what values they reflect, or do they portray themselves as what they truly feel they are



1. Who your are

2. …is influenced by our culture…

3. …which identifies you to society…

4. …as a reflection of cultural values…

5. which equates to what you are.


-masculine in our culture: active, dominating, adventurous, rational


-feminine: passive, submissive, timid, emotional


-claims patriarchal ideology pervades the center of great literature. literature for men, by men. The most highly regarded works focus on male protagonists. Female characters, marginalized and subordinate and represented as either complementary to or in opposition to masculine desires and enterprises



-focuses on writings by women and examining the female literary tradition to find out how women writers across the ages have perceived themselves and imagined reality


-attempts to identify distinctly female subject matter/mode of experience


-identifies female voice in literature


Studies in Power – Marxist Approach

-British feminists explore women in life and literature


-want to change economic and social status of women


-analyze relationship between gender and class, showing how power structures which are male-dominated, influence society and oppress women


-see literature as a tool through which society can be reformed (social protest)


-common goals for feminists, gynocritics, and marxists:

-define female experience

-expose patriarchy

-save women from being defined as “the other”

-expand literary canon to include female writers

-to correct inaccurate descriptions of women in the work of male writers


Modern Approach

-men and women are different in the way that they use language, view reality, solve problems, and make judgements


-men and women have different conceptions of self and different modes of interaction with each other


-some call for a recognition of differences because ignoring them leads to the suppression of women’s ways of understanding and acting


Formalist Reading


-applying structure of language to literary analysis


-influenced by aristotle’s emphasis on the structure and defined characteristics of a tragedy


-formalist movement began in russia and came out of its first large-scale institution of a socialist state (USSR)


-Russian formalists of the 1920s focused on:

-language of poetry

-structure of narrative discourse (folk tales, novels, and short stories)


-sought to rescue literary criticism from frequent changes in taste and preserve the autonomy of literature


-shares common ground with structural linguistics (structure of language)


-advocates more scientific approach


-movement dissolved in the late 1920s with the rise of Stalin and suppression of ideas perceived to be non-Communist



-necessary to understand the differing use of “practical language” and “poetic language” by the latter’s use of meter and devices such as


-metonymy (use of characteristic of a subject)




-effect of these devices is to defamiliarize language from reality as poetic language = language of images that when written in verse has individual significance


-allows readers to break away from “jaded habits of perception” and focus of formal or aesthetic qualities of poetry



-system and method to analyze the structure of prose and rejected interpretations that relied on searching or meaning beyond the literal text

-authority of interpretation is witht the text not the reader.


-certain deep commonalities exist (deep laid structures)

-amounts to “grammar” of narrative types


-common structures:

-plot structures(eg tragedy has  5

acts) -characteristization

-linguistic structures (grammar, syntax, dictio )

-criticism is accomplished by deducing and understanding these regularities and not in the mere “piling up of endless interpretations”


-unity: form and diction come together to create meaning