Explain the structuralist approach to analyzing a poem, in laymans terms.

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kapokkid eNotes educator| Certified Educator

It is intensely difficult to make sense of the more academic descriptions of structuralist interpretation as they delve into discussions of mimesis and the relationship between signifier and signified and a host of other incredibly complex ideas that only English Phd's talk about or really have discussed enough to make sense of them.

In simple terms, a large part of the analysis of a poem in a structural vein is an analysis based on the assumption that the structure of the poem is as meaningful as the words or the concepts that the words point to.  Structuralists tend to look closely at the number of certain types of words or the number of syllables in a phrase or other such pieces of information and lend meaning and power to those pieces of information that they contend are at least as meaningful as the actual ideas and concepts brought up by the language of the poem.

There are several examples in the article linked below, but they consist of similar analyses of the structure of certain poems and the critic attaching meaning to those particular pieces of structure.