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Structuralist Criticism

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Mika Obayashi

on 28 October 2013

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Transcript of Structuralist Criticism

Structuralist Criticism
Any Questions?
The Structuralist Perspective
-Binary opposition
light vs. dark, up vs. down

-character's inner thoughts vs. dialogue

-Fairy tales and folktales
cultural influence/importance

-part of something "larger"
-the study of signs and their use and how meaning is created

-how these signs enable us to understand complex cultural elements

-non-linguistic objects/behaviors tell readers something
Structuralist criticism originates from anthropology and linguistics. It suggests that language is based upon an arbitrary and differential system of signs that is used to convey meaning.
"Language is not a function of the speaker; it is a product that is passively assimilated by the individual"

Ferdinand de Saussure
Charles Sanders Peirce, a large contributor to the framework of Structuralism, created three ideas that he believes help categorize Semiotics and Structuralism.

1.Iconic Signs: The symbol represents the item being represented (i.e. a girl on the door of a girl's bathroom and a boy on the door of the boy's bathroom)

2. Indexes: The symbol is relatable to the object being signified (i.e smoke and fire)

3.True symbols: The symbol is said or written (i.e. saying or writing the word "dog")
Structuralist critics analyze the ways in which common threads permeate through literature.

They draw generalized conclusions in observing the cultural and societal influence on a work or a system of works.

Structuralist criticism approaches a work as a part of a larger, overarching, and observable whole whose significance can be traced back to signs that designate meaning.
Typical Questions to be
Asked by Reader
How can I classify this text according to genre?
What can I gather about the relationship between the text and the culture it came from?
What patterns can I find within the text that can connect to a "larger" human experience
Searching literary texts for opposites is a common method of structuralism.

Cinderella is pretty, while step-sisters are ugly.
Cinderella is penniless, while step-sisters have money.
Cinderella is good, while step-sisters are evil.
Cinderella loses one slipper, but keeps the other.
Cinderella has a complete change in luck as do her step-sisters.

(DiYanni 1584)
"But the shrub soon stopped growing and began to get ready to produce a flower. The little prince, who was present at the first appearance of a huge bud, felt at once some sort of miraculous apparition must emerge from it.But the flower was not satisfied to complete the preparation for her beauty in the shelter of her green chamber. She chose her colors with the greatest care. She dressed herself slowly...

"Oh! How beautiful you are!"
"Am I not?" the flower responded, sweetly.
"And I was born at the same moment as the sun..."
The little prince could guess easily enough that she was not any too modest-but how moving-and exciting-she was!" (de Saint Exupery, 33)
The Little Prince
Works Cited
Romeo and Juliet
An archetype for many more love stories
"Star-crossed lovers"
Any more stories influenced by Romeo and Juliet?
"From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes, a pair of star-crossed lovers take their life." (Shakespeare)
"DiYanni, Literature Series." DiYanni, Literature Series. N.p., n.d. Web. 27 Oct. 2013.

Saint-Exupéry, Antoine De, and Richard Howard. The Little Prince. San Diego: Harcourt, 2000. Print.

Shakespeare, William. Romeo and Juliet. Harlow: Pearson Education in Association with Penguin, 2002. Print.
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