Formalism Or Conformist Criticism?

When you go to the museum, and you spot a painting, what do you look for first? Do you look at the description of the picture on the side, the history of the picture, or do you look at the picture itself? Chances are you look at the picture itself. Its aesthetic, its art, the picture as a whole, is what catches most people’s eye. Now imagine doing the same thing to literature. Look at the art, look at the aesthetic of the literature piece, look at the piece as a whole. What you would be doing is a process called formalism or formalist criticism. Formalism is a style of analysis that focuses solely on literary text itself, without any thought of biographical, historical, or political backgrounds. Formalists do not want to look at the history …show more content…
Formalism is a great way to analyze literature. When authors write their work, they write to entertain and get a meaning out to their audience. There are many ways that successfully get the point across without having to reference to any outside information. By using this method, one is able to stray away from mistakes that are made because of either incorrect outside information, irrelevant outside information, or useless outside information. It also forces one to get the deeper meaning of the work from the page. The title, lines, and stanzas, can all be used to interpret the meaning. One can also look deeper into the lines or stanzas of the work and either look for the literal, or the figurative language. At least one of those, or all of them together, should provide the big picture. For example, in the poem “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner,” one can tell what it is about by the title alone. This poem has plenty of figurative language, but by looking at the title, one knows that it is about a ball turret gunner’s death. One example of figurative language in “The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner” expresses, ”And I hunched in his belly till my wet fur froze.” …show more content…
For one, formalism requires no outside feelings or morals from the reader, but people can't truly hide their feelings and morals. It has become natural to judge everything based off of our morals, past experiences, and feelings. One person with one experience might read and analyze something completely different from another person with a different experience. People are different, so one can't assume that people will get the same meaning from a piece of literature as someone else. Also with some literary works, one might need to know some historical background and the political climate in that time. For example, with the poem “Ballad of Birmingham,” there is a lot more information that needs to be uncovered other than what the poem is saying. With the quote, “Mother dear, may I go downtown, instead of out to play”, in order to understand fully why a little girl would want to go to a March instead of playing with her friend, one would have to understand the historical climate of when the poem was written and what time the poem was set in. The poem takes place at the time of the Civil Rights Movement. Clearly there's a lot of tension considering a child wants to go and march. The child surely saw marches and demonstrations, which showed people being hosed down, eaten by dogs, and getting killed and arrested, yet she still wanted to go. She has been forced to

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