Thursday, August 13, 2009

summary on the moral -philosophical approach


As old as classical Greek and Roman critics.

PLATO emphasized moralism and utilitarianism

HORACE literature should be delightful and instructive

Basic function of such critics larger function of literature is

· Teach morality

· Probe philosophical issues

· Interpret literature within the context of philosophical thought of a period or group.

1.Pope’s ‘ Essay on man’--- understood if on e understands the meaning and role of reason in the 18th century thought.

---can also be religiously oriented.

2. Hawthorne’s ‘Scarlet Letter’--- study of the effects of secret sin on a human soul – sin unconfessed before man and god.

3. Robert Frost’s ‘stopping before woods over snowy evening’--- suggesting that duty and responsibility take precedence over beauty and pleasure.

MATTHEW ARNOLD (Victorian critic)

- Great literature work must possess high seriousness.

- Moral critics -----aware of form, figurative language, aesthetic considerations but these are secondary.

- moral or philosophical teaching asserting and stating what is right

These approaches give total meaning of any literary work. They are less likely to err on the side of over interpretation

Reader on the surface of text at least now understood part of it

Reader who extracts interpretations neither supportable nor reasonable may miss key meaning

Dull, pedestrian, uniformely literal approach anithesis to informed, imaginative, creative approach.


- deficient in imagination

- neglected newer sciences( should be given fullest possible chance to explain any knowledge or insight)

- Too content with common sense interpretation.


- avoided cultism and faddism

- preserved scholarly discipline and maintained balance in literary criticism


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