literary theoryWhich literary theory would lend itself best to an interpretation of Luther by John Osborne? Psychoanalytical theories (ever-increasing isolation of a man)? Marxist theories...

literary theory

Which literary theory would lend itself best to an interpretation of Luther by John Osborne? Psychoanalytical theories (ever-increasing isolation of a man)? Marxist theories (politics vs. religion)? What do you think?

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Lori Steinbach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I'm with amy-lepore.  When it comes to interpretation of things outside of literature, things for which perhaps there are no established or codified theories, we bring our own insights and experiences to the exercise.  Our personal lens, as mentioned by accessteacher, is nearly always the best choice for effective analysis and interpretation of everything, including literature.  When I was in grad school and forced to examine one piece of literature with a variety of literary theories, I found I really struggled with those with which I didn't agree.  There's no clearly right answer, it seems to me; so choose the one with which you're most familiar and/or most comfortable. 

accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have to agree with #2. Personally, I always tend to approach text with my Marxist "lenses" as I feel far happier reading texts this way because of my background, my education and training and my beliefs and values. If I were you, I would examine both approaches theoretically and ask yourself which one appeals to you the most. Your answer will be the one you should use, as it is very hard to use a theory to analyse a text if you are not convinced of the ability of that theory to shed light on it.

amy-lepore eNotes educator| Certified Educator

My answer would be which do you feel most comfortable using?  It has been my experience that a critic may approach a piece of literature from several different angles, but the best criticism will be the one that the critic is most comfortable with and about which he/she has the most experience and/or knowledge.  This piece is approachable with either of these critical lenses...which do you feel you can more effectively pull off?

epollock | Student

I would think a formalist approach would work well in deconstructing the literary elements of the work into their own segments and analyzing the book in the form of plot, characters, point of view, tone, symbolism,  theme, imagery, etc. This should work well for a book like this.

spatzematze | Student

Thank you for your responses. I agree, it's really difficult to apply theories that you just can't identify with. Part of my problem is that I have to examine several plays and  use several theories, so I can't just stick with the one or two I'm comfortable with. And sometimes I really don't know what would be fitting. Right now I'm working on "Amadeus" by Shaffer. I wish there was a well developed "religious" literary theory that would help me there, but it doesn't seem to be around!



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