Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Topic: Literary Criticism

10-second review: Analysis of the story of the Three Little Pigs from the point of view of psychological, sociological, historical, ethical, formal and archetypal criticism.

Title: “The Three Little Pigs: From Six Directions.” RD Robinson. English Journal (March 1968), 356-359. A publication of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE).

Summary: Summarizing this article is difficult. I can’t do justice to explaining each critical point of view. I’ll try.

The story: Mother Pig’s home is too small. Three little pigs are told to build their own homes. One is of straw, the second of sticks, the third of bricks. Wolf blows down the straw and stick houses, but can’t budge the brick house to which the other two pigs have fled. The wolf is killed.

Psychological: The generational differences between the children and the mother and their unwillingness to go out on their own.

Sociological: Institutions. Mother Pig represents the failed educational system. Failed to tell her children about the technology needed to build a solid wolf-proof house.

Historical: Similar to the historical record of the barons in England vs. King John of Magna Carta fame.

Ethical: Good vs. evil.

Formalist: Prevalence of three: pigs, houses, and other situations throughout the story.

Archetypal: Plot re-enacted ceaselessly over the years. The uninitiated expelled from the source of food, comfort and safety—the Garden of Eden, for example. Homer’s Odyssey: hero leaves safety on the island of Calypso and crosses the dangerous sea.

Comment: Terrific idea to take a simple Mother Goose tale and apply the various critical points of view to it. Good way to illustrate the ideas in the critical perspectives. RayS.

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