Importance of literary theory in literature

Importance of literary theory in literature


One important aspect of literature is considered to be literary theory. In the field of literature, literary theory is defined as the part, which deals with the understanding of literary works composed by different authors. This understanding allows the readers to have a better comprehension of the written text and it helps them criticize the text more effectively. For a person, who wishes to know more about the values of a written text, and how the quality of that piece is measured, it is important that he/she acquires the art of literary criticism.

Literary theory and criticism

As the field, which provides the readers with the tools for criticizing various works of literature, literary theory carries a great responsibility towards critics. Therefore, this aspect of language needs to be approached with great care and responsibility, since it can guide a reader into reading a specific piece or in other cases make them avoid the composed work in general. Among the theories, which are believed to make a whole out of literary theory and the criticism accompanied by it, are cultural studies, formalism, psychoanalytic criticism, Marxist theory, and post-modernism.

Cultural studies

Among the types of literary criticisms derived from literary theory there lies cultural studies within which a text is examined in relation to its socio-cultural context. Based on the fact that the culture of a specific group of people is able to give an insight into the beliefs and values of that group, cultural studies in literature helps the readers discover these aspects of humans’ lives by looking into the literary works composed by writers from that very same societies.


Another way for criticizing works of literature is called formalism, which invites the readers to value the text based on different elements such as language. In formalism it is favored to only examine the interior aspects of the literary work and it is better to pay no attention to the exterior elements. Here the main concern is the structure of the composed piece.

Psychoanalytic criticism

Psychoanalytic criticism is based on the principles of psychoanalysis, which were proposed by Sigmund Freud. This dimension of literary theory criticizes a text based on its psychological aspects and attempts to relate it to the personality of human beings as it is presented across different written pieces.

Marxist theory

In the Marxist theory, literature is viewed as a way to express the social and political aspects of life and as it was initially suggested by Karl Marx this theory looks into the conflicts between the working class and those of higher ranks. Based on Marx’s suggestions the conflict between the two parties is expected to lead to a revolution in which the working class will come out as the winners.


According to the studies of literary theory, post-modernism, which rose to prominence in the middle of the twentieth century, focuses on the use literary tools similar to paradoxes and objective truths. This aspect of literature unlike the previously discussed theories pays zero attention to the psychological and behavioral dimension of the human lives and it mainly revolves around to the narrated reality within the text. Post-modernism gives no importance to the facts from the outside world.

As an important aspect of literature, criticism of literary works can be considered a vital element in the better understanding of various texts, therefore, to make criticism a possibility it is best to put literary theory into use. This theory aids the readers comprehend a text with the help of several theories among which are cultural studies, formalism, psychoanalytic criticism, Marxist theory, and post-modernism.


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