Literary Criticism is a major part for a reader to understand a literary work. Readers and even writers might find working on a text impossible without its knowledge and guidelines. Many researchers had already proven that literary criticism is a major part for a reader and a writer. Many approaches in literary criticism had been agreed and studied by researchers that help in analyzing and working on a literary text. It is said that Literary Criticism is thought to have existed as long as literature. It is a study, evaluation and interpretation of literature.
There are different literary approaches used by different writers in different eras and periods in our history. Thus, the approaches in dealing with one literary piece depends on how a reader see the descriptions and the background of the author. Understanding a text depends on how a reader approaches it.
According to Babista (2012), the main point of Literary Criticism is to bring readers closer to the texts they were reading. It helps readers to simplify and clearly understand the deeper meaning of the literary text and it also helps the readers to understand the author’s point of view. While for Brizee and Tompkins (2007) as cited in Balmeo (2013) they defined Literary Criticism as an attempt to evaluate and understand the creative writing and the literature of the author.
However, Hazelton (2012) in Balmeo (2013) believes that classic novels or works written by eccentric authors requires further analysis to understand the single or multiple meanings present in the text depends on the content and author and oftentimes the same work can be read through different lenses to provide a more comprehensive picture of what the author may have been trying to express. Different styles and approaches has been used by many authors in writing their work which may confuse the readers in interpreting the text so literary criticism enters to sort things and eventually give help to the readers. Literary Criticism also helps the reader in providing them the different approaches that they can use in analyzing the text.
Habib (2011) stated that “If we had no tradition of critical interpretation, if we were left with the text themselves, we would be completely bewildered.” The use of literary criticism in analyzing a text also helps the reader to identify and know what kind of genre a literary work is either it be epic, poem, short story etc. Literary criticism also shows us which tradition a given writer was working on and how they put and interpret it in their work. Literary Criticism is a method used in interpreting any given work of literature.
Literary criticism includes the classification by genre, analysis of the structure and judgment of value in evaluating a literary work (Beckson ; Ganz, 2014). The different schools of literature give us lenses which most likely reveal important aspects of the literary text (Asuncion, 2014). Simply explained, as the readers’ judgment of the literary work.
Aside from the readers Grewal (2012) believes that poets or writers also used literary criticism as a tool for self-evaluation and self-improvement. He also stated that literary criticism also provides and introduces work of periods and cultures that differs in theme and treatment. It is a view or opinion on what a particular written work means. Literary Criticism is all about the meanings that a reader finds in an author’s perspective.
The aforementioned claims by experts about literary criticism is a proof that it provides not just the readers the advantages and guidance in reading but also for the poets and writers to open their works to different doors that can help them in writing. Readers may find literary criticism a big of help for them to understand and analyze the literary work they are reading with, the various kinds of literary criticism approach they can use in interpreting them. It is said that it is difficult to understand a literary text without knowing what approach the author used in making the text. We can draw on the richness of our literary, philosophical, and literary-critical heritage in realizing the potential of the humanities to help shape the political, educational, and economic discourses that will determine our future, and to foster an increased understanding of our world, ourselves, and others.
Marxist Literary Approach
Having all the concepts in mind the researcher used the Marxist Literary Approach to be one of the literary criticism approach in analyzing the selected literary text. Marxism analyzes the society at the grandest or in the most detailed level it also sees literature as connected to social power. Marxist criticism analyzes literature in terms of the historical conditions which produce it; and it needs, similarly, to be aware of its own historical conditions.
Stated by Babista (2012a) Marxism is a literary approach that tells that literature is used a tool in the revolutionary struggle of the working class. Basically, writers who uses this approach focuses the topic of their work with the conflicts in our society. This approach promotes to its readers the social inequality through the perspective of the working class. Babista also believes that Marxist critics are generally focused on the unresolved tensions within the works of literature. Marxism is that of a society that forms more complex modes of production, it becomes more stratified; and the resulting tensions necessitate changes in the society.
Marxist critics also see literature as intimately linked to social power. The real purpose of Marxism is to analyze the tensions and contradictions within the society (Babista, 2012b).
Ultimately, Marxist literary criticism is part of a much larger effort to uncover the inner workings of society. Marxism also tells about the sufferings of the poor and the anticipation of the victory of the working class. This theory is a theory of revolution, history, economics and of politics and it served as the ideology for communism. Bulusan (2012a) believes that Marxist Criticism is a belief that literature reflects this class struggle and materialism and that Marxism promotes the idea that literature should be a toll in the revolutionary struggle. Marxist writers want to bring to the readers the unequal treatment of the society to the people. How society sets standards on who will only benefit to something and how they judge what a working class can give and do.
However, Bulusan (2012b) stated that Marxism also looks at how literature functions in relation to other aspects of the superstructure, particularly other articulations of ideology. The same with the feminist critics, it investigates how literature can work as a force for social change, or a reaffirmation of existing conditions. This approach uses literature to promote social change and it aims to awaken the minds of the reader about the reality of what they see as unequal treatment of the poor.
Marxist literary criticism is a form of critique or discourse for interrogating all societies and their texts in terms of certain specific issues including race, class and the attitudes shared with a given culture (Teachers’ Web, 2015). Marxism do not focus its content in just the working class but also this approach tackles about how a person or a group is treated based from their native roots and culture. Jameson (2005) admitted that the Marxist critics of the 1930s had been “relegated to the status of an intellectual and historical curiosity” but he also points out that “In recent years … a different kind of Marxist criticism has begun to make its presence felt upon the English-language horizon.”
Grewal (2012) stated that Marxists praise work that exposes and describes the injustices the Marxist societies wants to overcome. This literary criticism approach helps the reader identify the social conflict or biases the text intended for the readers to see. As cited in Babista (2012) Marx stated that “it is not the consciousness that determines their being, but on the contrary, their social being that determines consciousness.” Simply stated that a person’s decision is determine in where he or she was born or the society he or she grew up.
According to Marx cited in Babista (2012), the moving force behind human history is its economic systems, for people’s lives are determined by their economic circumstances. A society, he says, is shaped by its “forces of production,” the methods it uses to produce the material elements of life. The economic conditions underlying the society are called material circumstances, and the ideological atmosphere they generate is known as the historical situation. This means that to explain any social or political context, any event or product, it is first necessary to understand the material and historical circumstances in which they occur. Some of the damage caused by the economics of capitalism, according to Marxists, is psychological. In its need to sell more goods, capitalism preys on the insecurities of consumers, who are urged to compete with others in the number and quality of their possessions: a newer car, a bigger diamond engagement ring, a second house. According to Marx, reality is material, not spiritual. Our culture, he says, is not based on some divine essence or the Platonic forms or on contemplation of timeless abstractions. It is not our philosophical or religious beliefs that make us who we are for we are not spiritual beings but socially constructed ones.
The previously mentioned theories are all helpful for readers and writers in evaluating, analyzing and creating a literary work. These theories can all guide and provide further knowledge and information for the future readers as well as those aspiring literary writers. Marxism literary approach simply believes that as a person grew into a society where there is a certain belief the person will inherit what the society tells him. Marxism is also greatly influenced by structuralist criticism and post-structuralist criticism the only difference from them is the refusal of structuralist and post-structuralist to separate literature and language from the society. Marxist criticism is said to be materialist that is why is has more in common with theories that talks more about social, political, and economic structures in literature. Marxist critics are aware that the working class does not always recognize the system in which it has been caught. One of the basic assumptions of Marxism is that the “forces of production,” the way goods and services are produced, will, in a capitalist society, inevitably generate conflict between social classes, which are created by the way economic resources are used and who profits from them.
Marxist critics must be concerned with identifying the ideology of a work and pointing out its worth or its deficiencies. The good Marxist critic is careful to avoid the kind of approach that concerns itself with form and craft at the expense of examining social realities. Marxist critic operates a warning system that alerts readers to social wrongs. Marxist critics believes that the function of literature is to make the populace aware of social ills and sympathetic to action that will wipe those ills away.
As said by Karl Marx “The philosophers have only interpreted the world in different ways; the point is to change it.” Marxism wanted to change the dependency of human culture to economic materials and serves economic ends.
Feminist Literary Approach
Feminist Literary Approach is one of the many approaches Literary criticism have. It basically promotes woman empowerment and woman rights. This approach specifically includes how a woman should be treated in our societal hierarchy. As Judith Fetterley (2005) puts it, “Feminist criticism is a political act whose aim is not simply to interpret the world but to change it by changing the consciousness of those who read and their relation to what they read. . . The first act of a feminist critic is to become a resisting rather than an assenting reader and, by this refusal to assent, to begin the process of exorcizing the male mind that has been implanted in us.”
Feminist Criticism attempts to set standards for literature that is free as possible from biased portraits of individuals because of their class, race or sex (Sharon Spencer, 2005 in Babista, 2012). Feminism is the representation of women in literature it wants to emphasize that women should have an equal opportunity with men not just in writing but in many distinct aspects in the society. Babista (2012a) stated that feminist insists that a literary work must truly portray the struggle and conflict that a woman faces to be free from the political and social oppression by a system that frequently uses sex for the mere purpose of domination.
This approach focuses on the society’s treatment on women based from their gender this approach uses literature to pass to the readers the awareness of how women should stand and claim their rights. Feminist writers’ intention was to truly expose the unfairness of how women is seen in our society they emphasize that because woman is merely a woman it cannot stand equal to what the opposite sex can do. Feminism approach intends to break the stereotyping that women are weak and that they cannot do the same as the opposite sex.
Also defined by Babista (2012b) feminism is concerned with the impact of gender on writing and reading. It is concerned with what really is the place of women in the society. Often political and revisionists, Feminism argues that by using female characters male fears are being portrayed. Feminism believes that the weakness and the things that men can do is passed on to females when they portray them specifically in a literary work. They may also argue that gender determines everything on just the opposite side: that all gender differences are imposed by society and that gender determines nothing.
This approach also includes empowerment of women that can be found in a literary work that uses this approach. Feminist literary approach is a collective term for systems of belief and theories that pay special attention to women’s rights and women’s position in culture and society.
Patricia Meyer Spacks (2005) as cited in Babista (2012) points out that the difference between female pre-occupation and roles and male ones makes a difference in female writing. Contemporary American poet, Adrienne Rich (1969) as cited in Guerin, Labor, Morgan, Reesman and Willingam (2005) describes feminism as the “the place where the most natural, organic way subjectivity and politics have to come together.” Feminist Literary approach tends to evaluate a literary work in a woman’s perspective. It provides not just the readers but also the writers the guidelines of how women should stand in the society not just in literary writing. It also includes how women should be treated in the society. Elizabeth Abel (1981) as cited in Guerin, et al. (2005) argued that sexuality and textuality both depend on difference.
A feminist critic, Myra Jehlen as cited in Guerin, et al. (2005) believes that with authors who seem unconscious of gender as an issue in their work we must make an effort to read for it instead “…. Literary Criticism involves as much as reflection, and reading for gender makes the deed explicit.” Lisa Tuttle (2012) defined feminist theory as asking new questions of old texts. Feminist Literary Approach in criticism defines a new way of writing a literary work it depicts woman’s involvement on the changes that happens in a society. It pushes the awareness of woman on how they should act, and this approach demands to hear women’s voices like in Tillie Olsen’s 1978 work entitled Silences, which is about a study of the impediments to creativity encountered by women in her work cited that “mute inglorious Miltons; those whose working hours are all struggle foe existence; the barely educated; the illiterate. Simone de Beauvoir also argued that if women can practice and do individual decisions and collective action they can free themselves from being oppressed in the society.
Elaine Showalter, one of the leading feminist critics in the united states, has identified three historical phases of women’s literary development. The “feminine” phase (1840-1880) in this phase women writers imitated the dominant tradition. The “feminist” phase (1880-1920) in here women advocated minority rights and protested and lastly, the “female” phase (1920-present) in this phase women’s dependency on opposition – that is; on uncovering misogyny in male texts – is being replaced by a rediscovery of women’s texts and women.
As stated by Maggi Humm (1994) in Guerin, et al. (2005) that in literary studies male critics are seen as “unaligned”, while “a feminist is seen as a case of special pleading. She claims that male criticism not feminism is ideologically blind to the implications of gender.
However, Lilian Robinson (1997) as cited in Guerin, et al. (2005) stated that feminist criticism “is criticism with a cause, engaged criticism… It must be ideologically and moral criticism; it must be revolutionary.” Feminist Literary Approach addressed topics such as mothering, living within enclosures, doubling of characters and of the self, women’s disease and feminized landscapes and they make the interesting argument that female writers often identify themselves with the literary characters they detest.
Plain (2007) stated that “Feminism has transformed the academic study of literature, fundamentally altering the canon of what is taught and setting new agendas for literary analysis.” Feminist Literary approach may have distinctive styles in promoting and empowering women as Annette Kolodny (1980) in Babista (2012) stated that by employing a popularity in method will we protect ourselves form temptations of oversimplifying a text. Kolodny also points out that there is a one principle that unifies feminist critics under one roof regardless of their plurality of methods.
Feminism may be on women’s favor and empowerment but having the foresaid concepts in mind the true meaning of Feminist literary approach is to have an equality on both men and women in our societal hierarchy not just in writing and reading but also in politics and opportunities that both women and men should have. Above all the said facts Feminism is not the theory that feminists fight for to have equal rights with men instead is the theory that feminist critics used to truly portray the struggles of a woman to be free form oppression.
The Divergent trilogy is a series of young adult science fiction adventure novels by American novelist Veronica Roth set in a post-apocalyptic dystopian Chicago. The trilogy consists of Divergent (2011), Insurgent (2012) and Allegiant (2013). This young adult series became a hit both the big screen and the novel itself.
According to Dominus (2011) the series has clearly thrills, but it also movingly explores more common adolescent anxiety and the painful realization that coming into one’s own sometimes means leaving family behind, both ideologically and physically. Turtle (2017) state that she enjoyed the book and that she loved the world that Roth, the author of the series had created with all the characters’ background. Turtle also stated that she bought the romance that blossom between the two main characters which is Tris and four. The Divergent series captured a lot of readers’ attention because of its plot and the dominance of female characters in the story. The series have also shown the conflict and tension between the five factions.
According to Sheri (2017) the second book which is the Insurgent picks up exactly where the first book Divergent left the readers. She stated that in the second book friends become enemies, enemies become allies and that lines are crossed and drawn. The major thing she discovered is that the series is packed with full of surprises. The heart pounding intensity was just for sure, there is no case of the sophomore slump here.
The Divergent series was hard to read because of the roller coaster emotion that it will give you. In the second book the female dominance is also seen as the female leaders of the factions dominated the entire city of Chicago.
Constant Reader (2017a) stated “this series is the first in a popular dystopian young adult trilogy. Dystopian societies are not my favorite setting. I had read very little about the series, so far for me it was interesting to gradually realize that the described crumbling world was Chicago. The story begins with our heroine at 16 making a momentous choice of her faction. It has elements of The Hunger games with young people fighting to the death and malevolent political powers. The violence is unrelenting.”
Constant Reader (2017b) also cited that the picture of humanity is repellent with our heroes and heroines hard to admire. Obviously, no one would want to live in this world. The dominant character trait of each faction (truthfulness, fearless/bravery, selflessness, studiousness, etc.) is carried to extremes. At those extremes, the traits become perverted, cruel, and unbalanced. The society certainly seems beyond redemption. The divergent heroes are not much more balanced than the faction members since they have been so damaged by the society in which they were raised. There is some romance among the teenagers, but it is of a chaste and innocent variety. They are more timid with sex than with brutality. Katniss Everdeen is a more sympathetic character than Beatrice because the bulk of the books were so violent with a little in the way of strategic thinking, grace or kindness, I am less inclined to read on the series.
According to Jia (2012) Insurgent (the second book of the Divergent series) was refreshing in that it allowed Tris (the lead female character) to have that weakness and that ugliness. So often that we are given protagonists with “flaws” that barely qualify. But while Tris is strong, she is also imperfect and that was shown so clearly on the book. She hides what happened because she can barely accept what happened herself. It left a tangible mark upon her. She cannot even lift a gun without panicking or freezing. The death left a visible scar on her psyche.
Also, she cited that “I liked that the events portrayed in Divergent left her mark on Tris. She was deeply traumatized by everything that happened, and I often feel that we don’t see enough of that in YA genre. Not to the extent that the subject matter deserves. Tris was forced to do some terrible things, and the book doesn’t prettify or soften it.”
However, James (2013) said that more than the grand unified theory of Divergence and factions, however, the thing he appreciated the most about Allegiant (third book from the series), lies with the shifting nature of the book’s allegiances and revelations. Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant are books about upheaval, of personal choice, and the dramatic implications of change. In many dystopian novels, he explained that “especially of the YA (young adult) variety, a government is framed as an evil body, corrupted often by ideals – the solution to such a heinous system? Why, rebellion, of course! Rebellion, however, is not a solution, and in Allegiant this concept of change and struggle against corruption is laid bare.”
He also added that rebellion does not automatically mean a happy ending, or that all the wrongs of a previous regime are magically healed. No, often rebellion sows’ chaos and deeper unrest – in Allegiant we see that the Factionless are not the end-all solution to what is broken with the city of Chicago; that the government outside the city’s walls is not all-knowing and benevolent; that the fringe fighters on the edge of those government enclaves are completely right in their righteous rage. Everything is flawed, everything is broken. There is no simple, right solution. I love that Veronica Roth explores the messiness that is political change in Allegiant in a way that is convoluted and infinitely complicated – but ultimately, it’s a way that rings as incredibly genuine.
Based from Michelle (2015) she mentioned that the heart of the Divergent series revolves around extremes – black versus white, good versus bad, nature versus nurture, the few versus the many, selfish versus selfless, knowledge versus truth versus action versus pacifism. There are few answers, and none of them are easy. Michelle also added that the story will break a reader’s heart multiple times, and it would be easy to dismiss the entire series because of these heart breaks.
She also explained that Roth demands readers to reflect on everything that happens, requiring them to search for the truth in their own hearts and apply those lessons to their own lives. The Divergent series comes at a time where people are dividing themselves into more opposing factions, trying to categorize things as black and white. The series serves as a warning that nothing is black and white and therefore to categorize anything as such is only to create future conflict. For that reason, no matter how one feels about how the story ends for certain characters, one must respect the sheer power of Roth’s message and the important themes she intersperses throughout the three novels.
Based from McFarland (2014) that while it improves on the book, Divergent remains in The Hunger Games’ shadow. McFarland also added that he likes the way the author portrayed Tris that Roth set an attitude that Tris doesn’t give any chance to those who tries to hurt her, he emphasized that the book engaged itself to a woman dominated approach that led the book to success that even if it showed societal problems and conflicts the women characters still dominated the situations and even led the city. The one nagging question McFarland had while reading the book is that “throughout the book though, under the assumption that the society could happen, why did it happen? That was never answered and continues to plague my mind. There has to be some explanation, that’s the main reason I hate most zombie novels/movies they tend to ignore the idea of why zombies or things are the way they are. To me it’s an empty hole.”
Another reader of the series Turtle (2017) said that the trilogy is something the three books has all gave her thrills that it made her hooked throughout the whole series. She first mentioned the first book which is the Divergent, she stated that the first book caught her attention by how the author made the female lead character Tris a strong and independent woman who can stand on her own and have courage to forgive even someone who tries to kill her. She also added the book truly depicts the reality of how unequal the treatment of every faction was. In the second book the she said that she liked the first book more but then continued reading the second book because she saw that tris grew more mature than what she is in the first book.
She also claimed that the second book, Insurgent brought more of what the reality of the city is she states “. I liked learning that there were more divergent and that there were brave people attempting to infiltrate the Erudite/rebel-Dauntless and fight for ‘freedom’ or order in their world.” Lastly, she stated that “- Honestly, I was not a huge fan. I thought it was a let-down experience after this world was created and built up only to have it be a complete fabrication and something that could be ‘reset’. It would have been cool for them to go outside the wall and had the fringe people come back and fight with them or something of that sort, but just having this all-powerful government in the ORD airport was really weird.”
Another reader of the series Robinson (2016) stated that the story behind the book is what made him hooked to the series. He explained that after knowing that Roth changed the lead from male to female character he got more interested with the book. He said that he thought it would have turned out wellbeing from Four’s perspective, but the author was probably right in deciding to create it from Tris’. Robinson added that he usually read series he loves more than once. Divergent series is one that he has only read once because it really got to him at the end. He also stated that he do get invested into the characters when he read, but the end of the series really got to him
According to Gaineson (2013) Divergent series is a straight-forward young adult drama-turned-action utopian story set in the near future. It has been oft compared to The Hunger Games, and that is a fair comparison if only for the fact that it involves a supposedly-perfect society in the future and centers around an adolescent girl with blooming, previously unknown potential. As explained by Gaineson the series is a good book full of interesting ideas, a writing style that is easy to read, and events that keep one tearing through large chunks in one sitting and coming back for more. A fun little piece of escapism with promise of greater things to come.
As for a reader Dominus (2011) she stated that Divergent clearly has thrills, but it also movingly explores a more common adolescent anxiety which is the painful realization that coming into one’s own sometimes means leaving family behind, both ideologically and physically. She added that it is not a coincidence that Tris falls in love while undergoing initiation into her new tribe. It is precisely the moment when young people discover romance that family life all but evaporates, at least in terms of its emotional
Terrible things happen to the people Tris loves, yet the characters absorb these events with disquieting ease. Here, somehow, the novel’s flights from reality distance the reader from the emotional impact that might come in a more affecting realistic novel. She believed that in this way, though Roth’s “Divergent” is rich in plot and imaginative details, it suffers by comparison with Collins’s opus. She explained that the shortcoming would not be so noticeable were there less blatant overlap between the two. Both “Divergent” and “The Hunger Games” feature appealing, but not conventionally pretty, young women with toughness to spare. Both start out with public sorting rituals that determine the characters’ futures. And both put the narrators in contrived, bloody battles that are in fact competitions witnessed by an audience. Even the language sounds familiar: The Hob is a central geographic point in “The Hunger Games”; in “Divergent,” it’s the Hub in the remnants of what was once the Sears Tower. For a book that explores themes about the right to be individual and the importance of breaking away from the pack, “Divergent” does not exactly distinguish itself.
However, some readers have a different take of the series. According to Johnson (2015) that after reading the first book he was so impressed how closely the movie followed along It was well written, perfectly paced, and for the movie to stick so closely was a testimony to how little room for improvement was left with Divergent. But then he added that when he started reading the second book he felt a bit of disappointment due to some completely nonsensical, rambling, all over the place mess. He said that “. It left me scratching my head wondering if these were even written by the same author.”
More likely, the divergent series did take a lot of attention and positive remarks from the readers. The whole series caught many attentions by portraying a love story, and a dystopian world. The book portrayed how a society works with women’s leadership. It also portrays the struggles of a woman in achieving her goals and fighting what they believe is the right thing. The series also tackled an issue about the society, how factions determines your faith. How a belief from the society you live in will become the belief that you also stand with. However just like other book series Divergent also has holes that some readers find not helpful for the series. The series is also always compared with other young adult books that have a similar plot story.
The two literary criticism approaches used in this study is Marxism and Feminism which will be the basis in analyzing the literary text. The first theory used is Marxism which is based upon the political and economic theories of the German Philosopher Karl Marx. Marxism Theory was formulated specifically to analyze and discuss how our society functions in the state of conflict and constant changes. This theory generally focuses upon the struggle of the working class and the ways and process they will aim victory.
The second theory used in this study is Feminism which is concerned with the place of women in societal ladder. The major critical studies of women writers form the viewpoint of the female tradition constitute the first serious female criticism. Elaine Showalter’s theory identifies the four models of difference. The first model is the biographical which states that women are more than just bodies. On the other hand, linguistic model states that there is a difference between women and men’s language. Showalter stated that if a woman continues to speak as men do when they enter discourse, whatever they say will be alienated. The third model is the psychoanalytic model which identifies gender differences as the basis of the psyche, it focuses on the relation of gender to the artistic process. Showalter’s last model and her most important contribution has been to describe the cultural model that places feminist concerns in social context, acknowledging class, racial, national and historical differences and determinants among women over time and space, a binding force. Feminism theory simply deals with the identity and inequality between male and female. The researcher had taken into account to conduct an analysis of the Divergent series using the two mentioned theories.