What is Criticism in Literature?

Concept of Criticism

In simple words, the term criticism can be defined as the analysis, evaluation, and interpretation of literary work. Criticism affirms that we are thinking beings. Every human has the capability of evaluating things around him.

E.g. a teacher evaluates his students and vice versa during a class. Thus, criticism comes naturally and hence it is a natural engagement. An author produces the work but it is the critic who creates it. There could be no creation without criticism.

How a work is created

Every word or sentence inscribed on the paper is a product of the thoughtful mind and these sentences come to the thoughtful mind through experience. Thoughts are derived from general aesthetics. General aesthetics are derived from philosophical debates and ideas.

Understanding the term Aesthetics

Aesthetics is a sense of perception of beauty. The mind takes cognition of something and perceives it as beautiful. We exist in the world with a sense of beauty.

This sense of beauty (or sense of harmony) is responsible for the generation of thought. Anything that gets perceived as harmonious is beautiful as it pleases one from somewhere within and one feels delighted.

Philosophical Debates and Ideas

Ideas can be termed as lived experiences. Philosophical debates and ideas are linked to our understanding of reality. We try to make sense of the world which is a reality. For some reality is God, for some others, the reality is absolute knowledge.

Quest for Harmony

Humans cannot exist in chaos. Thus chaos is needed to be ended and order restored. This order is harmony. E.g. in a class if there is noise, the teacher will try to calm the students down. This order is restored.

This order is achieved by acting upon conventional ethics. And thus such order in the class is harmonious having some kind of beauty in it. There is a predisposition towards normalcy. Every literary work of literature is a metaphor and quest for harmony.


Thanks to Professor Mukesh Ranjan (Dept. of English, Jamia Millia Islamia) for sharing his peerless knowledge.