MEG 05 Literary Criticism & Theory Solved Assignment 2022-23

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MEG 05 Literary Criticism & Theory Solved  Assignment 2022-23

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Q.1. Discuss Aristotle's view of literature as imitation.

Aristotle's view of literature as imitation Word imitation has great importance in literature. Aristotle explained meaning of this word in order to defend poetry which is called Aristotle’s concept/theory of imitation. Although he was not first to use this word yet he comes first in redefining its meanings. Word “imitation” was used as a synonym of copy of copy before Aristotle. Plato used this word for the first time. He was of the considerable view that poetry was shadow of a shadow, thus, it was twice away from reality.

Aristotle answered Plato and refuted charge against poets. He redefined meanings of imitation. Aristotle's view of literature as imitation , Regardless of that whole concept of idea and copy remained the same. In simple words, Aristotle agreed that the world was created from an idea and the world was its copy. He also agreed that a poet imitated the reality/nature but meaning of word imitation did not mean mere copy. He did not consider poetry twice away from reality.

Imitation is a creative process in the eyes of Aristotle. He links poetry with music instead of painting. He says that poetry is pleasant just like a flute’s sound that is full of harmony, therefore, it is not right to compare poets with painters and poetry with painting. A poet, further says Aristotle, does not present things as they appear but bestows them his imagination. Hence, poetry is not the process of seeing things and simply converting it to words; a poet reinvents things with his imagination and experiences.


Imitation Vs. Reality and History:

If imitation is the name of copying facts then there must be no creativity in poetry. As mentioned earlier, Aristotle argues that a poet presents men in action. He presents men as they were or are or as they ought to be. If men are being presented as they are without any blend of imagination and creative power then it is not poetry but history. Creativity differentiates history from poetry. A historian may also write about the sorrows and pains, suffered by humans, but it would not necessarily be filled with emotions. Strong power of imagination is required to convert ordinary and simple incidents to extraordinary events so that they cause “catharsis”. Aristotle’s redefined “imitation” is the only concept/theory, through which poetry becomes highly effective.

Upshot of the above discussion is that Aristotle has encouraged the poets to write poetry. He blows a new soul to the word “imitation”. Plato’s charges against the poets have successfully been refuted by Aristotle in his book “Poetics”. Aristotle’s concept/theory of imitation shows the world that it is not mere a procedure of copying things but a creative process, which requires high imaginative powers. Hence, it cannot be called duplicating things. It is a process of creating something astonishing from ordinary things with the help of strong vision. A poet, hence, through imitation brings things closer to reality instead of taking them twice away from reality.


Q.2. What do Wordsworth and Coleridge have to say on poetic diction.

Wordsworth himself isn't free from review. Coleridge is the first critic to denounce his views expressed in"Preface to the Lyrical Ditties". He's particularly critical of his proposition of lyrical diction and his defence of metre. He exposes numerous sins of Wordsworth's proposition. Wordsworth addresses of a named and purified language. Coleridge argues that similar type of language would differ in no way from the language of any other men of firm. After similar selection, there would be no difference between the rustic language and the language used by common men in their ways of life. Again Wordsworth permits the use of metre inferring a particular order and arrangement of words. So Coleridge concludes that there's and there ought to be an essential difference between the language of prose and rhythmic composition. Metre medicates the whole atmosphere and the language of poetry is bound to differ from that of prose. The use of metre is as artificial as the use of lyricaldiction.However, it's absurd to prohibit the use of the other, If one is allowed. Both are inversely good sources of lyrical pleasure.

 Coleridge objects to Wordsworth's views on the use of common language. He says that the views can be applicable only in some cases. Again when the rustic language is purified of its crassness and oddities would be virtually the same as the language used by any other class of men. Likewise, Coleridge feels that the language of the countrymen would prove to be too skimp to give the suitable diction for the expression of varied gests. He also criticised the"Preface"for the dispensable obscurity of its ultimate half. The diction employed is also unnecessarily elaborate and constrained.

Coleridge again refuses that stylish corridor of our language are deduced from nature. The stylish words are abstract nouns and generalities. These are deduced from the reflective acts of the mind. This reflection grows as man advances from the so- called primitive state. As man has advanced in study, he has acquired new ideas and generalities which can not be expressed through the use of rustic language which is primitive andundeveloped.However, he must also suppose like the countrymen, If the minstrel wants to use the rustic language. The language of the countrymen is curiously affordable. It would be putting the timepiece back. Rather of progression, it would be regression.

  Coleridge refutes Wordsworth's judgement of Gray's sonnet. He also quotes a many lines from The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser. He shows that the language used in them is by no means the language of ordinary. This language would by no means be used in prose. Coleridge also argues that Wordsworth'sover-emphasis on his proposition of lyrical style was maybe a response against the garish pretension of the kind of style which had been current in poetry in the 18th century.

 Similar are the sins of Wordsworth's proposition. It must also be admitted that he didn't cleave to his proposition in his own practice. Reversed and lyrical constructions are frequent in his poetry. His vocabulary is frequently not drawn from rustic life. He doesn't always use the language of real men of the countrymen of Cumberland. He doesn't exercise his own proposition in his"Tintern Abbey"," Eternity Ode"and"The Prelude". The language of the runes isn't the language of common man. So his proposition is frequently either inconsistent with his practice or simply shy as a proposition.

 Still, Wordsworth's proposition of lyrical diction is significant and far- reaching. But it's full of contradictions and limitations. Wordsworth fails to maintain it in his own runes too. So"Preface to the Lyrical Ditties"is inept in argument and conventional of expression. Coleridge crtiticises Wordsworth's proposition of lyrical diction to a great extent. His assessment isn't fully right. We may agree with him that there's surely a difference between the language of prose and the language of poetry. At the same time, we must honor the value of Wordsworth's proposition of lyrical diction.


Q.3. Write short notes on the following:

a) Catharsis

Catharsis (Latin), from the Greek Κάθαρσις Katharsis meaning "purification" or "cleansing" , is a sudden emotional breakdown or climax that constitutes overwhelming feelings of great pity, sorrow, laughter, or any extreme change in emotion that results in renewal, restoration, and revitalization.

The term “catharsis” was used in a philosophical sense by Aristotle to describe the effect of music and tragic drama on an audience. Aristotle did not leave a clear definition of the term, resulting in centuries of discussion, commentary, and debate, which contributed to the development of theories such as aesthetics, psychology, drama, and artistic ethics. In religion, catharsis refers to efforts made to come to terms with sin and guilt through penance and atonement, and through symbolic cleansing rituals such as baptism. For centuries, medicine had used the term “catharsis” to mean a purging which helps to rid the body of disease-causing elements. The term catharsis has also been adopted by modern psychotherapy to describe the act of expressing deep emotions often associated with events in the individual's past which have never before been adequately expressed.

In ancient Greek tradition, catharsis referred to religious rituals performed to “purify” criminals and those who violated established religious codes in order for them to be allowed to return to a society. Similar practices are found in almost all cultural traditions. In the ancient medical practices of Hippocrates and others, catharsis referred to medical treatments that involved cleansing poisonous liquids or discharging body fluids through vomiting and diarrhea.


Socrates took the “purification of the soul” as the primary task of philosophy. For him, the purification of the soul meant to remove all undesirable stains and contaminations of the soul caused by immoral acts driven by bodily desires. Socrates characterized philosophy as a practice of dying, which was a departure of the soul from the body, indicating the purification of the soul. Aristotle offered the first philosophical elaboration of catharsis, particularly in relation to its role in tragic dramas. The many analyses of catharsis in Aristotle's theory of drama have had a lasting influence on intellectual history. Catharsis has been a universal theme adopted in diverse traditions including mysticism.

(b) Auchitya

Auchitya is a Hindi word taken from Sanskrit. It means justification, propriety, decency. Propriety can be defined in this context as the details or rules of behavior conventionally considered to be correct. Or that which is correct, appropriate, and fitting. The word Auchitya also contains the Hindi word “Uchit” which in English means “appropriate”.

Kshemendra  : He introduced Auchitya in his book AuchutiyaVicharCharcha. Kshemendra was born in the present day Kashmir. He is one of the best Sanskrit poets of the 11th century. Kshemendra was the pupil of the famous philosopher and poet Abhinavgupta.

Aucitya is defined as harmony and in one aspect it is proportion between the whole and the parts, between the chief and the subsidiary. This proportion is all the morals and beauty in art. Almost all the aestheticians—Bhamaha, Dandin, Lollata, Rudrata and Abhinava Gupta—speak about Aucitya. The term was not used by Anandavardhana as it came to be used after his time.

Anandavardhana lays down that the ‘soul’ of poetry is Rasa or Rasa-dhwani. The most essential thing in rasa is Aucitya. The Aucitya of character and action are essential for the derivation of rasa. Nothing hinders rasa as anauchitya or impropriety. Aucitya or propriety is the greatest secret of rasa.

            Rajasekhara, the author of Kavya-mimamsa, speaks of Aucitya under poetic culture and leaning and opines that all poetic culture is only the discrimination of the proper and the improper, Ucita and Anucita (Raghavan, 253) Abhinava Gupta takes his aesthetic position on the tripod of Rasa, Dhwani and Aucitya.


(c) Superstructure

Superstructure includes the culture, ideology, norms, and identities that people inhabit. In addition, it refers to the social institutions, political structure, and the state—or society's governing apparatus. Marx argued that the superstructure grows out of the base and reflects the ruling class' interests. As such, the superstructure justifies how the base operates and defends the power of the elite.

Neither the base nor the superstructure is naturally occurring or static. They are both social creations, or the accumulation of constantly evolving social interactions between people.


In "The German Ideology," written with Friedrich Engels, Marx offered a critique of Hegel’s theory about how society operates. Based on the principles of Idealism, Hegel asserted that ideology determines social life, that people's thoughts shape the world around them. Considering the historical shifts production has undergone, especially the shift from feudalist to capitalist production, Hegel’s theory did not satisfy Marx.

superstructure includes the culture, ideology, norms, and identities that people inhabit. In addition, it refers to the social institutions, political structure, and the state—or society's governing apparatus. Marx argued that the superstructure grows out of the base and reflects the ruling class' interests. As such, the superstructure justifies how the base operates and defends the power of the elite.

Neither the base nor the superstructure is naturally occurring or static. They are both social creations, or the accumulation of constantly evolving social interactions between people.

In "The German Ideology," written with Friedrich Engels, Marx offered a critique of Hegel’s theory about how society operates. Based on the principles of Idealism, Hegel asserted that ideology determines social life, that people's thoughts shape the world around them. Considering the historical shifts production has undergone, especially the shift from feudalist to capitalist production, Hegel’s theory did not satisfy Marx.


(d) 'Pleasure' and 'instruction' as ends of literature

The concepts of ‘pleasure’ and ‘instruction’ are classical. Their association with literature has got a long history which can be traced back to the Antiquity. In his Poetics, one of the earliest seminal works of literary theory, Aristotle conceives the goal of tragedy as catharsis, or the liberation of the mind of its viewers. This psychological redemption results from the arousal and purification of intense fear and pity in the audience, and it is in this arousal-and-purification business that the audience derives the true tragic pleasure . Furthermore, what make the audience enjoy a tragedy are the poet’s perfect technique of imitation, or the ‘reproduction of objects with minute fidelity’, and their recognition of the model being imitated. Pleasure, not ethics or instruction, is thus central to Aristotle’s theory of tragedy.

Longinus thus affirms the supremacy of ecstasy over persuasion and pleasure. He argues that while one can control their reasoning in terms of what to admit and what to refuse, the power of ecstasy that the sublime exerts cannot be resisted. It is like a bolt of lightning which scatters everything before at a single stroke. Moreover, although he acknowledges in section seven that “the beautiful and genuine effects of sublimity… please always, and please all,” Longinus just undermines ‘pleasure’. The reason is that ‘when writers try hard to please or to be exquisite, they fall into affectation’. Genuine sublimity gives us far more than pleasure; it sends us into ecstasies or raptures. It “elevates us” so that “uplifted with a sense of proud possession, we are filled with joyful pride, as if we had ourselves produced the very thing we haveheard.”


IGNOU MEG 05 Literary Criticism & Theory Solved Assignment 2022-23

Q.4. What does I. A. Richards talk about in Practical Criticism?

Ivor Armstrong Richards – poet, dramatist, speculative philosopher, psychologist and semanticist, is among the first of the 20th century critics to bring to English criticism a scientific precision and objectivity. He is often referred to as the ‘critical consciousness’ of the modern age. New Criticism and the whole of modern poetics derive their strength and inspiration from the seminal writings of Richards such as Principles of Literary Criticism, Practical Criticism, Coleridge on Imagination, The Foundation of Aesthetics (with C.K.Ogden and James Wood) and The Meaning of Meaning (with Ogden). Together with T.S.Eliot, Richards was instrumental in steering Anglo-American criticism along a new path of scientific enquiry and observation.

Practical Criticism

Richard’s influence rests primarily on his Practical Criticism (1929) which is based on his experiments conducted in Cambridge in which he distributed poems, stripped of all evidence of authorship and period, to his pupils and asked them to comment on them. He analyses factors responsible for misreading of poems. Even a “reputable scholar” is vulnerable to these problems.

1) First is the difficulty of making out the plain sense of poetry. A large proportion of average-to-good readers of poetry simply fail to understand it.  They fail to make out its prose sense, its plain, overt meaning. They misapprehend its feeling, its tone, and its intention.

2) Parallel to the difficulties of interpreting the meaning are the difficulties of sensuous apprehension. Words have a movement and may have a rhythm even when read silently. Many a reader of poetry cannot naturally perceive this.

3) There are difficulties presented by imagery, principally visual imagery, in poetic reading. Images aroused in one mind may not be similar to the ones stirred by the same line of poetry in another, and both may have nothing to do with the images that existed in the poet’s mind.

4) Then comes the persuasive influence of mnemonic irrelevancies ie, the intrusion of private and personal associations.

5) Another is the critical trap called stock responses, based on privately established judgments. These happen when a poem seems to involve views and emotions already fully prepared in the reader’s mind.

6) Sentimentality, ie, excessive emotions

7) inhibition , ie hardness of heart are also perils to understanding poetry.

8) Doctrinal adhesions present another troublesome problem. The views and beliefs about the world contained in poetry could become a fertile source of confusion and erratic judgment.

9) Technical presuppositions too can pose a difficulty. When something has once been done in a certain fashion we tend to expect similar things to be done in the future in the same fashion, and are disappointed or do not recognise them if they are done differently. This is to judge poetry from outside by technical details. We put means before ends.

10 )  Finally, general critical preconceptions resulting from theories about its nature and value come between the reader and the poem.

Poetry and Synaesthesia

In The Principles of Literary Criticism (1924), Richards establishes the nature and value of poetry. According to him, the science that unearths the secrets of literature is psychology. He first examines the working of the human mind itself to find out a psychological theory of value. He describes the human mind as a system of ‘impulses’, which may be defined as ‘attitudes’ or reactions motivated in us by ‘stimuli’, that culminate in an act. These impulses are conflicting instincts and desires and wants—or ‘appetencies’ as Richards calls them, as opposed to ‘aversions’ — in the human mind. They pull in different directions and cause uneasiness to the human mind which looks to achieve order or poise through the satisfaction of appetencies. The mind experiences a state of poise only when these emotions organize to follow a common course. But with each new experience, the whole system is disturbed and the human mind has to readjust the impulses in a new way to achieve the desired system or poise. To achieve this poise, some impulses are satisfied and some give way to others and are frustrated. The ideal state will be when all the impulses are fully satisfied, but since this is rarely possible, the next best state is when the maximum number of impulses are satisfied and the minimum are frustrated.

The value of art or poetry – and by poetry Richards means all imaginative literature –  is that it enables the mind to achieve this poise or system more quickly and completely than it could do otherwise. In art there is a resolution and balancing of impulses. Poetry is a representation of this uniquely ordered state of mind in which the impulses respond to a stimulus in such a manner that the mind has a life’s experience. The poet records this happy play of impulses on a particular occasion, though much that goes into the making of a poem is unconsciously done.


Q.5. Comment on Lacan's main contribution to critical theory.

Jacques Marie Émile Lacan was a major figure in Parisian intellectual life for much of the twentieth century. Sometimes referred to as “the French Freud,” he is an important figure in the history of psychoanalysis. His teachings and writings explore the significance of Freud’s discovery of the unconscious both within the theory and practice of analysis itself as well as in connection with a wide range of other disciplines. Particularly for those interested in the philosophical dimensions of Freudian thought, Lacan’s oeuvre is invaluable. Over the course of the past fifty-plus years, Lacanian ideas have become central to the various receptions of things psychoanalytic in Continental philosophical circles especially.

Lacan draws on Saussure and emphasizes that meaning is a network of differences. As there is a perpetual barrier between the signifier and the signified which is demonstrated with a diagram showing two identical lavatory rooms, one headed “Ladies” and “Gentlemen.” This purports to show that same signifier may have different signifieds, so that the correlation between signifiers determine the meanings. Thus Lacan suggests an incessant sliding of the signified under the signifier.

Further he argues that the two dreamwork mechanisms identified by Freud, condensation and displacement correspond to the basic poles of language identified by the linguist Roman Jakobson, i.e, metaphor and metonymy. In metonymy one thing represents another by means of the part standing for the whole (For eg. Twenty sail would mean  twenty ships). In Freudian dream interpretation, an element in a dream might stand for something else by displacement (For eg. A lover who is Italian might be represented by an Alfa Romeo car). Lacan says that this is the same as metonymy, the part standing for the whole. In condensation, several things might be compressed into one symbol, just as a metaphor like, “the ship ploughed the waves” condenses onto a single item, two different images, the ship cutting through the sea, and the plough cutting through the soil. The use of these linguistic means of self-expression by the unconscious, is part of Lacan’s evidence for the claim that the unconscious is structured like a language.

The transition section of the essay moves attention, again from the conscious self, which has always been regarded as the primary self, to the  unconscious, as the “kernel of our being.”  Lacan reverses the .Cartesian statement,”I think, therefore, I am,” as “I am, where I think not” (i.e. true selfhood is in the unconscious), thereby challenging the Western philosophical consciousness.

He insists that the Freudian discovery of the unconscious should be followed to its logical conclusion which is the self’s radical ex-centricity to itself. Thus he deconstructs the liberal humanist notion of unique, individual selfhood and the idea of the subject as a stable amalgamation of consciousness. Lacan’s take on self would reject the conventional view on characterization ( as the idea of the character rests on the notion of a unique separate self) and the novelistic characters are seen as “assemblages of signifiers clustering round a proper name.”)

Lacan’s foregrounding of the unconscious lends to his speculation of the mechanism whereby an individual emerges into consciousness. Before the sense of self emerges, the young child exists in a realm, which Lacan calls the imaginary (pre-Oedipal), in which there is no distinction between the self and the other and there is an idealized identification with the mother. The child experiences both itself and its environment (in Lacanian terms “innenwelt” and “umwelt’ respectively) as a random, fragmented and formless mass.


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Important Note - You may be aware that you need to submit your assignments before you can appear for the Term End Exams. Please remember to keep a copy of your completed assignment, just in case the one you submitted is lost in transit.

Submission Date :

·        31st March 2023 (if enrolled in the July 2022 Session)

·       30th Sept, 2023 (if enrolled in the January 2023 session).


MEG 05 LITERARY CRITICISM AND THEORY Solved Assignment 2022-23  Before attempting the assignment, please read the following instructions carefully.

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MEG 05 Solved Assignment 2022-23 You will find it useful to keep the following points in mind:

1. Planning: Read the questions carefully. Go through the units on which they are based. Make some points regarding each question and then rearrange these in a logical order. And please write the answers in your own words. Do not reproduce passages from the units.

2. Organisation: Be a little more selective and analytic before drawing up a rough outline of your answer. In an essay-type question, give adequate attention to your introduction and conclusion. The introduction must offer your brief interpretation of the question and how you propose to develop it. The conclusion must summarise your response to the question. In the course of your answer, you may like to make references to other texts or critics as this will add some depth to your analysis.

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