So now that we have all this information, what do we do with it? Easy answer. Whatever you want. These are just tools. How you apply them is up to you, but there is some other information related to this that could inform you how you’d like to approach analysis if that is what you’d like.

There are different methods of inquiry when it comes to critical analysis. I am only familiar with the first method, but the others can be just as valid.

1. Analytical– What I have explained in previous sections is the Analytical method of inquiry. This is interpretative. You examine elements of form and see how they come together to justify your interpretation. Then you can move onto evaluative, where the quality of the work is determined by the degree of subtlety with which the elements of form interrelate to create a theme, and where your learning and experience with the work can enhance or detract from your aesthetic reaction.

2. Psychological– This is where works are analyzed based upon their psychological impact either on the individual or society. There are Freudian and Jung comparisons to be made here, and probably many others as well.

3. Sociological– This is where the work is judged solely on the time it is written in and its impact on society in the moment. An understanding of the time period in which the work was produced is a must for this kind of analysis. A work analyzed in this way would have its political, theological, or ideological posturing as a part of its breakdown.

4. Biographical– This is a comparative analysis of a work and others to determine veracity of its interpretation of someone’s life, whether its their outward details or even inner thoughts.

5. Deconstructionist– this type of analysis tends to tear things down and break them apart until it comes to the conclusion that it isn’t what it set out to be. Not a fan. Just saying.

Like I stated above, I am mostly just concerned with analytical analysis. I find it is the most fun for me to think about. There are a few other terms and ideas that may pop up during analysis or discussion. These may or may not impact your interpretation, depending on whether they are relevant.

Figures of Speech: this is usually just a fancy way of saying something. It can enhance your enjoyment of a story depending on context.

Irony: this is the tension established between opposites. There are several form of irony.

1. Verbal– the discrepancy between what a character says and what the character means. Can also include sarcasm.

2. Situational– the discrepancy between what would normally be anticipated and what actually occurs. This type of irony is a mainstay in literature and film. It’s everywhere.

3. Dramatic– the discrepancy between what the character says (which could be the narrator) and what the author intends. Audience awareness of this irony is optional. This is usually the most difficult type of irony to detect when it’s done very subtlety.

Surrealism: this is “super reality”. The author exaggerates reality to the point of total distortion.

Metaphor: the comparison of unlike objects or even ideas. Metaphors can be “connotative”; that is, subjective, figurative, with emotional meaning; or “denotative”; that is, objective, literary, unemotional.

Symbolism: this is kind of a metaphor with the tenor (the object your describing) removed.

All these terms and definitions are just options and things to think about as you go through and try to analyze a story. Hopefully, this series has given you information that will open up ideas and enhance enjoyment of everything you read. The theory of operationalization isn’t just for art or story. It can probably be applied to other things in life in a more simple, straight forward manner. But I think it’s a fun tool we can use to enhance our enjoyment, learning, and progression toward becoming the type of reader we want to be. It is by no means the “be all and end all” (figure of speech) of criticism. It’s just a theory, just a tool for us to use or discard as our own personal situations demand. If you’ve stuck with me this far, thanks so much for reading. If you’d like a full document of all five parts, let me know and I’ll gladly send it to you.

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Author: Jarrod

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