14 thoughts on “This perfectly sums up my feelings about literary criticism.

    • Glad you liked it! It was always hard for me to understand why my English teachers in high school insisted so strongly on deeply analyzing EVERYTHING we read. There were some things, like James Joyce, that it made sense for, but I strongly believe that many, if not most authors were just writing to tell a story, and because they enjoyed it. I would much rather have sat around and discussed how we felt about the books, what we liked, what we didn’t, and why. I was doing that with my friends anyway! 🙂

  1. This is hilarious, and I AM an English Teacher. Most of the reason why we insist on over-analyzing everything is to encourage students to think critically. The author may just be trying to describe the color of the curtains, but by asking the class for ideas on what the author may have been trying to say helps them make connections and think a little bit deeper than they otherwise would have.

    • That’s definitely a valid point, and that’s something I valued from my English classes. But I had a few teachers who were so gung-ho about symbolism and whatnot that when we read A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, we had to put a post-it in our book every time there was a reference to water, the sun, birds, St. Stephen the martyr, Daedalus/Icarus, EVERYTHING. Because apparently every word James Joyce writes is symbolic of something.

      Light criticism/analysis I can stand, but when it goes that far…it totally ruins any enjoyment of the book that I would have had (which would have been low to begin with, I think, because James Joyce seemed remarkably angsty and whiny, at least in that book).

  2. I’m (starting) to appreciate literary analysis, but heck yeah to this post! Until a couple months ago, my head was spinning with it! What I dislike is when a teacher/professor wants a student to dissect literature through the professor’s lens. For example, the question “what was the writer thinking?” is meaningless to a person who views literature as art for art’s sake. Better would be to ask what the student thinks (thinks I!) I like a bit of freedom in the way I analyze — but I am beginning to appreciate analysis. 🙂

    • What always bugged me (and what you alluded to) is that if we didn’t interpret the book/poem/whatever the way the teacher wanted or expected, it was “wrong.” It’s the worst double standard ever: their reasoning for making us do the analysis is that there are many interpretations…but then if we don’t give the one they want, we’re wrong. Talk about flaws in logic…

  3. Lol…I felt like this many times during my English classes. I hated when my teachers would ask me what I thought the author meant. Can’t I just enjoy the story and not look at every sentence and wonder about the real “meaning”

  4. Love it! This reminds me of something that happened to me in a creative writing class in college. We were told to write a poem, and lacking inspiration, I headed off to my next class. A crow crossed my path, so I wrote about it. He gave me an A+ and praised my symbolism of death and on and on and on. I just nodded and acted like my poem was that deep, but really it was about the damn crow! LOL

    • That…is amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever had anyone that blatantly see symbolism in my work when there wasn’t any, but I did make up a pretty BS-tastic essay about Jane Austen for one of my classes my last semester of college. I went all out on the “symbolism” and got an A- on the essay, which ended up being my best grade in the class…

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