Literary theory helps in the analysis of any literary text since it helps a person to think critically. The literary theory was devised centuries ago to help interpret different texts from different points of view.
The various theories help to analyze the text as an open narrative and from various critical perspectives. These theories lay down certain rules or guidelines to analyze a text.
For example, Marxist theories help analyze a text from an economic point of view, Feminist theories form feminists’ point of view, Postcolonial theories concentrate on the dominance of colonies by the colonizers, and various other theories help analyze text taking into consideration their own set criteria. The wide variety of concepts to be studied here makes the students go for assignment help or homework help.
Aristotle was the first person to come up with the contribution of literary theory with his “Poetics”. In this, he gives prime importance to art and classifies its forms. Later in the Elizabethan age came Philip Sidney with his “Apology for Poetry”. And with this came theory works from an early age to the contemporary times. Each of these works laid its own criteria for analyzing a literary text.
The literary theory does not confine itself to literature but to other fields also like environment, sociology, and the like.
Prevalent Modern theories
The most prevalent and modern theories include the theory of structuralism, deconstruction theory, reader-response theory, postcolonial theories like orientalism, feminist theories, theory of hybridity, etc.
Ferdinand de Saussure came up with the theory of structuralism. He was a swiss linguist who gave a lecture on the relationship between speech and the evolution of language, investigating language as a structured system of signs. His lectures were recorded in a book “ Cours de Linguistique general”.
After this he came to be known as the Father of Modern Linguistics, since he laid the foundation of modern structural linguistics, developing the science and strength of semiotics, the study of signs and symbols. Saussure divided his explanation and laid emphasis on the analysis of eight elements that help in the understanding of any language, sign, signifier and signified parole, langue, paradigmatic, syntagmatic, synchrony, and diachrony.
Saussure says that a sign is divided into a signifier (sound image) and signified (concept). Saussure says that both these components are inseparable- one side simply cannot exist without the other. For example, the word “Google” directly brings into the mind of a person that it is a search engine, though, the name has nothing to suggest so.
The arbitrariness of the sign
The arbitrariness of the sign, as Saussure calls it, refers to the fact that he specifies no particular or natural reason as to why a signifier should be attached to a particular signified.
“Langue” is the system of language and “parole” is the utterance of these languages and every language has its own pattern of utterance. Paradigm is the vertical study of language where alternatives can be included whereas syntagm is the horizontal study of language where no replacements work.
On the other hand, the synchronic study of language is the study of it in a particular region whereas diachronic study is the study of language using historical reference. Using all these components, Saussure laid down his theory of structuralism on which different texts are analyzed and interpreted.
Reader-response theory by Roland Barthes which has its reference in his essay Death of the Author bases itself on Jacques Derrida’s Theory of Deconstruction which gives importance to different perceptions. In his essays, Barthes says that for an unbiased view of the text, the author and his background should not be kept in mind at the time of analyzing the text.
Barthes says that multiple readers have multiple interpretations of a text. For example, Child is the father of man or Two roads diverged, and I took the one less traveled by. May have different interpretations as and how to read by different people.
Barthes gave importance to the destination of a text rather than its origin since the reader analyses without having any knowledge of the background of the author.
In response to this came Mitchel Foucault’s What is an Author where he lays emphasis on the importance of a text when analyzing it.
Postcolonial theories gained prominence after the colonization of several countries by Britain. The postcolonial era saw the loss and identity and thus this literature was written based on losing the sense of belonging.
The postcolonial theories include the theory of Orientalism by Edward Said. Gayatri Chakravarty Spivak in her Can the Subaltern Speak? Says that the Subaltern woman can’t speak because the postcolonial critics attempt to speak for her.
“The Hairy Ape” by Eugene O’ Neill deals with characters’ quests for identity, wherein the character is a perfect example of expressionism, and John Osborn’s “Look Back in Anger” whose character suffers from hypergamy, stand as the best example of postcolonial texts.
Chinua Achebe’s “Things Fall Apart” deals with the whole problem of colonialism from the point of view of postcolonial thinker and writer and Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” brings out in detail, the evils of colonialism.
Among these postcolonial theories, comes the theory of feminism. Earlier women writers had to write under pen names to get their works published but their continuous oppression made them come up with this moment.
Simon de Beauvoir, the French writer came up with the Feminist theory of “Second Sex” where she said that women have always occupied secondary positions.
Elaine Showalter came up with her concept of Gynocriticism wherein a woman is a reader, writer, and critic of a text. This gives the women to bring up their own perspective of the text in contrast to the male-dominated society.
Therefore these theories would acquaint the readers with the postcolonial world and would provide students with homework help. Also is the students need assignment help effectively, they must understand these basics and then proceed with reading them in-depth.