Elements Of Criticism

1940 Words8 Pages
The origins of Criticism can be traced back to 5th century B.C in the works of Plato. Criticism developed overtime and with the advent of the 20th century I.A Richards for the first time talked about the role of the readers. Nevertheless, the contributions of his contemporaries including Eliot and C.S Leavis cannot be overlooked. With their arrival on the critical scene, modern criticism took a different turn. M.H Abrams too was a critic and a teacher of the 20th century. He was an American literary critic and is popularly known for his works on Romanticism. One of his ground breaking work is The Mirror and the Lamp: romantic theory and critical traditions where he celebrated the Romantics and draws on the influence of the author’s life and…show more content…
With the introduction of this four elements criticism assumes a systematic structure. The ‘work’ refers to the artistic product itself and the second element is the artist himself. Thirdly, ‘Universe’ refers to the external objects of imitation . Lastly, is the ‘audiences’ who perceives the work of art and interprets in their own way. One notable fact is that these elements are represented in different degrees in the theories in which they occur. This discussion of Abrams on four aesthetic theories and their gradual development in relation to the four coordinates identified is undoubtedly the most important aspect of the essay. He moves on to discuss the four important theories namely Mimetic theory, Pragmatic theory ,Expressive theory and the Objective theory. His discussion of the four aesthetic theories provides us with an idea of development of criticism till date. The Mimetic theory is perhaps the oldest aesthetic theory which views a particular piece of art as the imitation of the external objects around it. It finds its origin in the works of Plato. Plato in his theory of mimesis, stated that all art is mimetic and imitates life . He attacked art because of its inability to get to the root of the things. For him,…show more content…
In the essay he mentioned that poetry imitates to teach and delight. The needs of the audience are given prime importance. This criticism of Sidney which is oriented towards the audience and the work of art to create some effect upon them is known as “Pragmatic theory". In the analytical diagram of Abrams, importance shifted from the universe to the audience. According to this pragmatic theory, the work of art is directed towards achieving an aim which is to achieve certain effects in the audience. This theory is said to have originated from the classical theories of rhetoric when the influence of the work on art upon the audience gained importance. Abrams to clarify his point, draws the example of the Roman poet Horace’ Ars Poetica where he says that poetry’s main purpose is to give pleasure to audience. Horace’s criticism, according to McKeon is to instruct how to induce pleasure in the minds of the audience and keep their attention intact . To please, to teach and to move for centuries were the main aesthetic effects on the readers which changed over the years as it can be seen that to Sidney and other Renaissance critics moral aim gained more importance. This aim for achieving effects in the readers led the pragmatic critics to formulate certain rules which are termed ‘poesis’. Abrams then draws the attention of

More about Elements Of Criticism

Open Document