Frye next introduces the formal phase, embodied by the image, in order to define the layer of meaning that results from the interplay of the harmony and rhythm of the signs and motifs. The most frequently repeated paper imagery sets the tone of the work (as with the color red in Macbeth with less repeated imagery working in contrast with this tonal background. This section of the essay gives a faithful representation of literary formalism (also known as New Criticism ). Frye's representation of formalism here is unique; however, its setting as part of the larger system of literary criticism Frye outlines in the entire work. The notion of form (and perhaps Frye's literal phase) relies heavily on the assumption of inherent meaning within the text—a point contested by deconstructionist critics. The mythical phase is the treatment of a symbol as an archetype. This concept relates most closely with intertextuality and considers the symbol in a work as interconnected with similar symbolism throughout the entire body of literature. While Frye deals with myths and archetypes from a broader perspective in the third essay, in this section he focuses on the critical method of tracing a symbol's heritage through literary works both prior and subsequent to the work in question.
For example, when a word such as 'cat' evokes a definition, image, experience or any property connected with the word 'cat' external to resume the literary context of the particular usage, we have the word taken in the descriptive sense. Frye labels any such symbol a sign. He does not define the sign beyond this sense of pointing to the external, nor does he refer to any particular semiotic theory. In opposition to the sign stands the motif which is a symbol taken in the literal phase. This phase demonstrates the inward, or centripetal, direction of meaning, best described as the contextual meaning of the symbol. To frye, literal means nearly the opposite of its usage in common speech; to say that something "literally" means something generally involves referring to a definition external to the text. Instead, literal refers to the symbol's meaning in its specific literary situation while descriptive refers to personal connotation and conventional definition. Finally, frye draws an analogy between rhythm and harmony with the literal and descriptive phases respectively. The literal phase tends to be horizontal, dependent on what comes before and after the symbol while the descriptive phase tends to be laid out in space, having external meanings that vary in nearness to the contextual meaning.
In the high mimetic mode society is structured around a capital city, and "national" epics such as The faerie queene and The lusiad are typical. In the low mimetic, thematic exposition tends toward individualism and romanticism. The individual author's own thoughts and ideas are now the center of authority, as instanced by william Wordsworth 's Prelude. Finally, in the ironic mode, the poet figures as a mere observer rather than an authoritative commentator, producing writing that tends to emphasize discontinuity and anti-epiphany. Eliot 's The waste land and James joyce 's Finnegans wake exemplify this thematic mode. "Ethical Criticism: Theory of Symbols" edit now that Frye has established his theory of modes, he proposes five levels, or phases, of symbolism, each phase independently possessing its own mythos, ethos, and dianoia as laid out in the first essay. These phases are based on the four levels of medieval allegory (the first two phases constituting the first level). Also, frye relates the five phases with the ages of man laid out in the first essay. Frye defines a literary symbol as: "Any unit of any literary structure that can be isolated for critical attention." Symbolic phases: Literal/descriptive (motifs and signs) Formal (image) Mythical (archetype) Anagogic (monad) The descriptive phase exhibits the centrifugal, or outward, property of a symbol.
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Ironic comedy is perhaps more difficult, and Frye devotes a good deal more space to this than the other comedic modes. At one extreme, ironic comedy borders on savagery, the inflicting of pain on a helpless victim. Some examples of this include tales of lynch mobs, murder mysteries, or human sacrifice. Yet ironic comedy may also offer biting satire of a society replete with snobbery. It may even depict a protagonist rejected by society (thus failing the typical comic reintegration) yet who appears wiser than the rejecting society. Aristophanes, ben Jonson, molière, henry fielding, sir Arthur Conan doyle, and Graham Greene offer examples of the wide range of ironic comic possibility.
Finally, frye explores the nature about of thematic literature in each mode. Here, the intellectual content is more important than the plot, so these modes are organized by what is considered more authoritative or educational at the time. Also, these modes tend to organize by societal structure. In the mythical mode scripture, literature claiming divine inspiration is prevalent. In the romantic, the gods have retreated to the sky and it is up to chroniclers in a nomadic society to remember the lists of names of the patriarchs, the proverbs, traditions, charms, deeds, etc.
Romantic tragedy features elegies mourning the death of heroes such as Arthur or beowulf. High mimetic tragedy presents the death of a noble human such as Othello or Oedipus. Low mimetic tragedy shows the death or sacrifice of an ordinary human being and evokes pathos, as with Thomas Hardy 's Tess or Henry james 's daisy miller. The ironic mode often shows the death or suffering of a protagonist who is both weak and pitiful compared to the rest of humanity and the protagonist's environment; Franz kafka 's works provide many examples of such. At other times, the protagonist is not necessarily weaker than the average person yet suffers severe persecution at the hands of a deranged society.
Nathaniel Hawthorne 's Hester Prynne, and Hardy's Tess exemplify this treatment. Comedy is concerned with integration of society. Mythic comedy deals with acceptance into the society of gods, often through a number of trials as with Hercules or through salvation or assumption as in the bible. In romantic comic modes, the setting is pastoral or idyllic, and there is an integration of the hero with an idealized simplified form of nature. High mimetic comedy involves a strong central protagonist who constructs his or her own society by brute force, fending off all opposition until the protagonist ends up with all honor and riches due him or her—the plays of Aristophanes or something like shakespeare 's Prospero. Low mimetic comedy often shows the social elevation of the hero or heroine and often ends in marriage.
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Frye divides his study of tragic, comic, and thematic literature into five "modes each identified with a specific literary epoch: mythic, romantic, high mimetic, low mimetic, and ironic. This categorization is a representation of ethos, or characterization and relates to how the protagonist is portrayed in respect to the rest of humanity and the protagonist's environment. Frye suggests that Classical civilizations progressed historically through the development of these paperless modes, and that something similar happened in Western civilization during medieval and modern times. He speculates that contemporary fiction may be undergoing a return to myth, completing a full circle through the five modes. Frye argues that when irony is pushed to extremes, it returns to the mode of myth; this concept of the recursion of historical cycles is familiar from giambattista vico 2 and Oswald Spengler. 3 4 Tragedy is concerned with the hero's separation from society. Mythic tragedy deals with the death of gods.
He mentions that the introduction is a polemic, but written in first person to acknowledge the individual nature of book his views. He concedes that the following essays can only give a preliminary, and likely inexact, glimpse of the system of literature. He admits to making sweeping generalities that will often prove false in light of particular examples. Finally, he stresses that while many feel an "emotional repugnance" to schematization of poetry, the schematization should be regarded as an aspect of criticism, not the vibrant, personal, direct experience of the work itself—much as the geologist turns away from his or her systematic work. "Historical Criticism: Theory of Modes" edit Frye's systemization of literature begins with three aspects of poetry given by Aristotle in his poetics : mythos (plot ethos (characterization/setting and dianoia (theme/idea). Frye sees works of literature as lying somewhere on a continuum between being plot driven, as in most fiction, and idea driven, as in essays and lyrical poetry. The first essay begins by exploring the different aspects of fiction (subdivided into tragic and comic) in each mode and ends with a similar discussion of thematic literature.
an external ideology described above. Yet even if there is a consensus among critics that the works of John Milton are more fruitful than. Blackmore (to use Frye's example a critic contributes little by saying. In other words, value judgments contribute little to meaningful criticism. In place of meaningless criticism, Frye proposes a genuine literary criticism which draws its method from the body of literature itself. Literary criticism ought to be a systematic study of works of literature, just as physics is of nature and history is of human action. Frye makes the explicit assumption that in order for systematic study to be possible, the body of literature must already possess a systematic nature. Frye claims that we know very little about this system as yet and that the systematic study of literature has progressed little since Aristotle. Frye concludes his introduction by addressing the weaknesses of his argument.
contents, contents edit, polemical Introduction edit, the purpose of the introduction is to defend the need for literary criticism, to distinguish the nature of genuine literary criticism from other forms of criticism, and to clarify the difference between direct experience of literature and the systematic. There are thank a number of reasons why the introduction is labeled as a ' polemic '. In defending the need for literary criticism, Frye opposes a notion common. Tolstoy and, romantic thought that 'natural taste' is superior to scholarly learning (and by extension, criticism). Frye also accuses a number of methods of criticism (e.g. Marxist, freudian, jungian, neo-classical, etc.) as being embodiments of the deterministic fallacy. He is not opposed to these ideologies in particular, but sees the application of any external, ready-made ideology to literature as a departure from genuine criticism. This results in subjecting a work of literature to an individual's pet philosophy and an elevation or demotion of authors according to their conformity to the pet philosophy. Another point is to distinguish the difference between personal taste and genuine criticism.
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This article is about the book. For the book by, henry hazlitt, see, the. Anatomy of Criticism: four Essays princeton University Press, 1957) is a book by canadian literary advantages critic and theorist, northrop Frye, which attempts to formulate an overall view of the scope, theory, principles, and techniques of literary criticism derived exclusively from literature. Frye consciously omits all specific and practical criticism, instead offering classically inspired theories of modes, symbols, myths and genres, in what he termed "an interconnected group of suggestions." The literary approach proposed by Frye. Anatomy was highly influential in the decades before deconstructivist criticism and other expressions of postmodernism came to prominence in American academia circa 1980s. 1, frye's four essays are sandwiched between a "Polemical Introduction" and a "Tentative conclusion." The four essays are titled "Historical Criticism: a theory of Modes "Ethical Criticism: a theory. Symbols archetypal, criticism: a theory of myths and "Rhetorical Criticism: a theory.