Cry, the Beloved Country, by Alan Paton can be effectively analyzed using the theory of New Criticism. When beginning to look at the text one must remember not to any attempt to look at the author’s relationship to the work, which is called “intentional fallacy” or make any attempt to look at the reader’s response to the work, which is called the “affective fallacy.” First, the central theme of the book must be recognized. In this book the central thematic issue is separation and segregation, that there will always be major problems in society when race or skin color segregates people. This central theme can be seen in every place the characters travel and also in their daily activities. Next, the tone of the book must be identified. The tone throughout the book can be identified as hopeful and also fearful. The balancing tones of hopeful and fearful help balance the central theme. There is a sense that human beings are capable of change and thus one day all people will become equal. No matter how badly things may be, the tone implies that there is still great hope. The hopeful tone implies that even though segregation and separation is a grim and depressing, there is hope for the future because, if a couple people are capable of change, so is a whole country. The fearful tone implies that South African’s are afraid of what has happened in their country and what may happen. Fear can be seen everywhere, in the land, actions of the people, and they speech of people. These balancing tones are continued throughout the book and serves to balance the outlining themes with the central theme.
The next step in applying New Criticism is to examine some of the outlining themes to deter…
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…the central theme. In this manner, the book follows the central unifying theme. The themes found in this book are not complex though. They are simple themes that do not require a lot of examination. Therefore, through the lens of New Criticism the book was an above average book that had many paradoxes and irony, a well-supported central theme, but its fault lied in the fact that the outlining theme were not complex. .
Davis, Robert Con and Ronald Schleifer. Contemporary Literary Criticism: Literary and Cultural Studies. Longman press, New York: 1989.
Young, R.V. The Old New Criticism and its Critics. First Things, issue 35. P38-34. August 1993.
The New Criticism. http://184.108.40.206/Arnason_DE/New_Criticism.html
Discovering Authors. John Crowe Ransom. Gale Research Inc. 1996
Social Responsibility in Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein – The Monstrous Society Frankenstein essays
Frankenstein and the Monstrous Society Society itself which is supposed to be good is actually ignorant. They wrongly treat the oversized creation, Frankenstein, on the assumption that he is a monster. They scorn, attack, and shun him just because of his outward appearance. This is not justified by anything except his demeanor. They are also afraid of it because they are afraid of things about which they no nothing. Society also unjustly kills Justine because she is the only person that could have possibly have done such an evil act. They again wrongly label Justine as the killer. They do not look into the facts but instead find a quick and easy answer to the problem. This again shows the ignorance of society in this novel. Two of the most inaccurate assumptions of society revolve around the central characters of Dr. Frankenstein and his creation. Society’s labels for these two extremely different characters are on the exact opposite side of the scale from where they are supposed to be. Dr. Frankenstein is more of a monster while his creation is the more decent of the two. Dr. Frankenstein is socially irresponsible, stubborn, and extreme in his actions throughout the novel’s plot. His irresponsibility shows through many times in his feelings toward his creation. While he was in the process of shaping his creation, Frankenstein is so caught up in his work and his yearning to be remembered for all time that he does not ponder about what will happen after life is breathed into this being. He is so consumed by his work he does not sleep for days on end, go outside, eat meals, or write to his family with such frequency as he had before he commenced. After his creation comes to life, he refuses to accept his obligation as the creator to his creation. He does not care for it, shelter it, provide it with food or love, nor teaches the creation. Eventually all the monster wants from the doctor is a companion like himself. Frankenstein even refuses to accept the responsibility of providing a source of companionship for the creation since he does not allow for any connection between himself and the monster. The doctor is intensely set in his ways. Even after his creation kills his son and frames Justine, Frankenstein still will not change his attitude and does not want any association between himself and his creation. Frankenstein is so convinced that his creation will kill him next, he does not stop and think about what else he could have meant by, “I will be with you on your wedding night.” The thought does not enter his head that the monster is foreshadowing the death of his bride. Then after the monster has taken this action, Frankenstein is wrathful towards his creation for not killing him. Frankenstein again shows his persistence when he tries to kill the creation. The monster leads his creator through all kinds of rough terrain, and then into the snow. Frankenstein does not care that the monster is vastly superior in physique compared to himself, and that he will never be able to seize the monster unless the creation allows the doctor to catch him. His thick skull does not let any of this affect his thirst for revenge. The doctor has opinions at different points in this novel that are the exact opposite of his opinions later in the story. At the beginning, Dr. Frankenstein lives for the monster. He cares about only that. He forgets everybody and everything that he had before his infatuation with creating began. He puts so much time and effort into making this thing live that he gets only the best of each part, and makes him anatomically correct to every finger, toe, and nerve. This concentration in making the monster live is direct contrast to his later wish to kill the beast. He travels to all extents to hunt and destroy this monster, going through forests, mountains, and glaciers, and depriving himself of people, food, and sleep. There is no gray area in Dr. Frankenstein’s head. There is only black and white. He either loves the monster totally or wants to slay it. He has to fully devote himself or not do his task. There is no just liking the monster, or doing a task half-heartedly. The monster on the other hand has gotten the worse end of the deal. The creation, or as society has labeled the monster, is actually one of the only characters in the novel that actually has rationale behind his thinking. This creation knows absolutely nothing when he first begins to exist and yet in a very short amount of time (compared to human learning) can walk, talk, read, write, and think logically. He learns to read, write, and talk from the family. Proof to his logical thinking is throughout the novel but especially in his plan to make Frankenstein feel his solitude and misery. Also in the creation’s flashback, the reader sees the organized thought process of his mind. The creation does not skip from one time to another randomly but narrates his story in chronological fashion. Anyone who can remember such a long story with as vivid details would be labeled a prodigy. The creation’s supplying of wood and helping in the familial chores indicates the kindness of this being. He feels obligated to help the family in some way considering he is using their house as shelter. He even stops taking their food because he sees that it causes them to suffer. The creation is also humane despite the fact the he actually kills in the book. He saves a girl from drowning in a river while in the forest. This concern for human life in addition to his feelings of love toward the family is evidence to his kindheartedness. He does not even mean to kill the boy at first. If any character in this tale should be labeled as a monster it is not the big guy.