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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson - Essay Example

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The formalistic approach pf criticism can be utilized in analyzing and evaluating “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson. Formalistic approach of criticism is based on certain technical characteristics of the piece of writing to be scrutinized…
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The Lottery by Shirley Jackson
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Download file to see previous pages It rose to significance in the early 20th century as a sort of reaction towards the romanticist theories related to literature. The romanticist theories focused on the author and his or her creative genius, previous works, personal history, etc. However, Meyer and Gardner point out that formalism is aimed at analyzing, interpreting, or evaluating the very inherent characteristics of a text. Technical issues related to grammar and syntax and literary tools like tropes and meter are important from the perspective of formalism. Formalism reduces the significance of a text’s cultural, historical, and biographical backgrounds (1541).
Formalism has played an influential role in the field of literary study in USA approximately from the end of World War II through the 1970s. Of late, this approach of literary criticism is resurging once again. In such a state of affair, the concepts related to this approach must be reflected on.
There are two major concepts in formalism:
The first one is the intentional fallacy that puts forward that an author’s purpose or plan (i.e., intension) in creating a literary work is not relevant in evaluating or analyzing that work since the value and meaning of a work of literature should lie in the text only. In this regard, the formalist critic does not pay much attention to the “intent of the author” (Meyer and Gardner, 1539). The second important concept entailed in this critical approach is that of the affective fallacy, which holds that the very evaluation of a literary work cannot be based on its psychosomatic effects on the reader or the audience. Instead, constructive criticism should be concentrated towards the very qualities of the text itself, which might produce such sort of effects. (Meyer and Gardner, 1540) Consequently, formalist approach of criticism must entail close reading and analysis of the text. Further, it requires that all the opinions about the literary work should be properly referenced to the text. In the present paper, the formalist approach of criticism has been adopted to evaluate and analyze “The Lottery”. This piece of literary work can be categorized under short story. The work involves fiction, which has been empowered by a structured approach that involves visualization of certain situations by the means of vivid expressions. This sort of language skills is displayed at the very beginning of the story as Jackson writes, “The morning of June 27th was clear and sunny, with the fresh warmth of a full-summer day; the flowers were blossoming profusely and the grass was richly green.” (5) The concept of the affective fallacy entailed in formalism can readily be applied to the text as extracted above. The phrases like “richly green” (5), “fresh warmth” (5), and “blossoming profusely” (5) are the certain quality pieces of text, which are capable of producing profound emotional effects by the means of detailed description. Since the short story is based on fiction and formal approach does not give much importance to any historical context, this piece of writing qualifies as an effective literary text with distinguished taste. The concept of intentional fallacy can be applied to evaluate the value and meaning of the text throughout. The author’s intensions are rightly not of prime importance, since the creation of mystery and horror has been accomplished in a skillful way. “The Witchcraft of Salem Village came out in 1956, offering a simple history of witchcraft and a chronicle of the early puritan’s fear of the evil spirits.” (Jackson, 30). The carefully repeated use of the word “ ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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