Criticism is the branch of study concerned with defining, classifying, expounding and evaluating works of literature. Criticism deals with all branches of poetry, drama and novel and even criticism. The realm of literature consists mainly of three activities are the power to create, the power to appreciate and the power to criticise. Unlike the other two, the power to criticise may be an acquired power. The process of criticism is one of asking and answering rational questions about the literature and the study of the individual works of writers.


A critic is who examines a work of literature and pronounces judgement upon it. It is the assessment of merit. According to Walter Pater criticism is a art of interpreting art. Carlyle also consider criticism as interpretation. This is a comprehensive view because criticism is more than interpretation or judgement. Arnold defines criticism as a disinterested endeavour to learn and propagate the best is known and thought in the world. According to Hudson the chief function of criticism is to enlighten and stimulate. Criticism helps the reader to partake in the great vision a work of literature presents. No analysis or criticism of a literary work alone can be substitute for our personal mastery of it. Criticism only help us to go forward. Bacon said, “some book may be read by deputy”. Good criticism helps the reader to penetrate into the heart of the work and to distinguish between what is permanent and what is temporary in it.


JUDGEMENT AND INTERPRETATION – Every effort at judgement leads to appreciation. The purpose of a critic is to penetrate into the heart of the work he criticises. He should disengage its essential qualities of beauty and power. He should distinguish between different levels of values. He should elucidate the artistic principles which have controlled the work. As Pater said “To feel the virtue of the poet or the painter, to disengage it, to set it forth, these are the three stages of the critics’s duty”.


1. CLASSICAL- criticism held sway till the 18th century. Aristotle’s poetics was held as the master key to the treasure of literature by the classical critics. This type of criticism stands for judgement based on absolute standards and established conventions. It laid emphasis on the judicial function of criticism and advocated right judgement as the first step towards right appreciation. Classical criticism is severely restricted the free play of the critical faculty because it was bound by rules and standards laid down in ancient times.

2. ROMANTIC- criticism which began with wordsworth is subjective. It list down that every work of art carries with it its own rules of enjoyment and there is no need to search for rules outside the work. It also begin to prop into the view point of the writer. Romantic critic is not concerned with outside standards he expresses what he personally feels in studying a work of literature. Wordsworth who initiated romantic criticism with the preface to the Lyrical ballads, Coleridge and Shelly were the other significant Romantic critics. Romantic criticism came under attack by the modern critics like T.S. Eliot, T.E. Hulme and I.A. Richards. modern criticism is based upon sound knowledge of the past and it respects tradition as exemplified in the writings of TS Eliot.


1. Theoretical criticism- is in which the property is common to all literature can be set out in a system of principles and these principles can be applied to a literary work while interpreting and evaluating it.

2. Inductive criticism- is based on the assumption that there are laws of literature binding on the writers. Inductive criticism are purely scientific kind of literary criticism advocated by Professor Moulton.

3. Judicial criticism- is a contest to inductive criticism it is concerned with the question of the order of merit among literary works.

4. Impressionistic criticism- is part of romantic criticism which items to express the field qualities of a work and its impressions on The reader.

5. Practical criticism- is concerned with the study of particular works for writers on the basis of general principles.

6. Pragmatic criticism- view the literary work as something constructed in order to achieve certain effects on The reader.

7. Expressive criticism- judges the work by its sincerity or genuineness in expressing the writers vision or state of mind.


W.H. Hudson says the “True critic is one who is equipped for his task by a knowledge of a subject which in breadth and soundness, far exceeds our own and who moreover is endowed with special faculties of insight an penetration and comprehension”.

The critic must be entirely free from bias of all kinds of individual tastes, bias of education, bias of creed, sect, party, class and nation. The critic must be a person with scholarship. The critic must have proper training and technical skill to render scholarship serviceable. A critic should have thorough knowledge of one great literature besides his own. The critic must not go to the extremes. He should show a measure of celebrity and perspective in his pronouncements.

Categories: Learning, Literature

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