Guide to Literary Terms

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What is the exact meaning of "critical appreciation"?

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A critical appreciation of a work of literature evaluates the work through a critical lens in order to show some of the reasons it is worth reading and understanding. It is not a critical appreciation to simply say that you like something; rather, you need to explain the structural, stylistic, thematic, and other reasons that you find the work effective.

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Critical appreciation is analyzing a work to evaluate its contents and explain why it should be appreciated. 

While it's easy to like something, showing a critical justification for your appreciation is somewhat more difficult. You have to look at the work from a literary standpoint and evaluate it from that perspective. 

Consider "Sonnet 18" by Shakespeare. Saying that it's a beautiful poem isn't critical appreciation—it's simply appreciation.

On the other hand, examining the structure and context of the poem can help you move from mere appreciation to critical appreciation. First, examine the structure. "Sonnet 18" is written in iambic pentameter, which is characteristic of sonnets. Iambic pentameter means the poem has four quatrains and ends with a rhyming couplet.

Next, examine the content. Shakespeare's "Sonnet 18" is based on a metaphor. The speaker compares his love to a summer day, but then goes on to clarify that he doesn't possess the negative aspects of that summer day. At the end, he says that his love will get to live forever through his words—death will never be able to truly lay claim to him. 

You could end your analysis by saying that Shakespeare successfully uses iambic pentameter to achieve the goal of the poem—to immortalize his love.

So critical appreciation requires you to look at a word and analyze it to explain your appreciation for it. Knowing literary terms and tropes can help you as you do so. 

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Critical appreciation is when a reader examines and evaluates a piece of literature from a discerning point of view. In other words, the reader knows the work well enough to have an intelligent basis for liking or disliking something.  Let me give you an example.

If you say that you like the works of Sophocles, the Greek author of tragedies, then a critical appreciation of Sophocles will give reasons why you like him. You can say that you like his poetry style, his use of language, and the like. You can also say that you like his character development and his themes. You can say that he work is applicable to life. You can also write what you find difficult and not so favorable as well.

The key point is that you know the works well enough to give an in depth reason for your judgments.

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