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Purpose and Types of Literary Criticism – Things You Must Know

  • 7 Jun
  • 2024

Literary criticism is very significant in today’s world because writing, reading and researching literature can help you make better sense of this world. The practice of doing this criticism can create space for other readers to understand better the complexity and beauty of this world through literature.

Literary criticism is essential in evaluating any type of writing. The writer should know its uses and purposes so that they can have a clear understanding of it. Regardless if you are an ordinary student or a professional blogger, I’m sure you will learn something valuable from this article.

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Purpose of Literary Criticism

Literary criticism is a reasoned consideration of a literary work and the issues related to it. It includes all the important arguments related to the literature. In simple words, you critically analyse a particular literary work. The first form of literary criticism can be found in the work of Plato, where he warns against the potentially harmful impacts of poetic motivation in his book, republic.

The purpose of this criticism is to enhance the understanding of readers related to the work of an author by exploring, interpreting and summarizing its value. After reading the text closely, literary critics formulate a literary analysis with proper details which can challenge or inform about the text in a particular literary work. The practice of doing this criticism can create space for other readers to understand better the complexity and beauty of this world through literature.

In literary criticism, you consider the author’s intention and how it relates to your reactions to the text. You also explain what the text means and give your opinion on its quality.. At this level, criticism of literature can be seen from an artistic point. It can also be seen from other viewpoints that may be relevant to students and readers that want to study literature with depth instead of doing just traditional reading.

For instance, influential sources, historical knowledge, bibliographical questions and many other methods are considered in this criticism. Because of this, it is usually considered a very a unique category of criticism. However, the aim of all criticism is to inform outside knowledge. This criticism relies on all the stages of literary understanding, such as a keen focus on the analysis of the work and a rigorous understanding of the timing and life of an author.

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Types of Literary Criticism

literary criticism

There are several different types of literary criticism that give the reader a particular vocabulary to understand any literary work. Here are some important types:

Practical Criticism

In this, we study the literature that encourages the readers to analyse the text without considering any context from the outside, such as contextual information, place of writing, date of submission and author.

Cultural Criticism

It is totally opposite to practical criticism. In this, you will examine a text according to the social and cultural environment. In this type of literary criticism, you will read a text through the lens of the cultural context of the text.


Formalism allows readers to analyse the artistic points of literature by checking the formal elements in it, such as technical skills and language. Formalism encourages a literary canon of work that exemplifies the high standards of literature which are identified by the formalist critics.


Another type of criticism is reader-response criticism. It is rooted in the idea that the reaction of the reader is as important as the text itself.

The new Criticism

It focuses on analysing the structural and formal elements of literature instead of moral and emotional elements. There are many critics that focus on this type of literature while analysing literature.

Psychoanalytic Criticism

In this, critics use principles of psychoanalysis given by Freud, such as dream interpretation. You will look into the psychological states and neuroses of the characters in literature to analyse the meaning of the text. There are many notable psychoanalytic critics, such as Julie and Jacques.

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Marxist Theory

In this, you will analyse literature by applying Marxist theory. Marx was a socialist thinker who gave his economic and social theory about the class difference. Marxists examine the literature in the context of socialist ideas and class relations.


This type of criticism first came in the middle of the 20th century to show the dissonant and fractured experience of 20th-century life. It is commonly referred to as the rejection of modernist ideas related to a unified narrative.


This criticism rejects all the ideas of structural and formal cohesion. It questions any universal truths which are assumed in the social structure.


It is proposed by Jacques Derrida. In this criticism, you pick the arguments or ideas of text apart to look for contradiction that renders any singular reading of any text.

Postcolonial Theory

This type of literary criticism challenges the dominant impact of the west on the world through literature. It examines the effects of colonialism in a critical way.

Feminist Criticism

This is another form of criticism that is related to feminist literature. With the progress of the feminist movement in the middle of the 20th century, many literary critics started to look into gender studies to discover new modes of criticism of literature. The earliest proponent of this type of criticism was Virginia Woolf, who wrote “A Room of One’s Own.”

Queer Theory

This criticism is like feminist criticism, which further interrogates the roles of various genders in literary work. It particularly examines the literature through the lens of gender identity and sexual orientation.

Critical Race Theory:

This criticism first came during the movement related to civil rights in America. It is mainly focused on examining the cultural texts, laws, and criminal justice through the lens of race differences.

Critical Disability Theory

This criticism is one of the growing forms of literary criticism in the field of critical study. According to the theory of critical disability, ableist and racist views go hand in hand. They try to analyse the ableist social structures.


I hope this article has made you aware of the different purposes and types of literary criticism. There are many various critical theories that you can use when analysing a piece of writing. In the end, your choice should be based on your focus and your preferences. I have asked you to identify what you want to do with literature, and then use literary criticism to help you in achieving the purpose of literature chosen by you. Still, if you are facing any issues, hire our top dissertation writers by clicking here.