Free «Criticism» Essay Sample

Criticism is a very important phenomenon in the world’s culture and it plays an essential role in the development of highly qualified works. All its tasks combine such actions as giving an artwork some value, appreciating it, or giving a low rate. Criticism exists as a method of making a thoughtful analysis of a piece of work. Different critics have altered methods in order to study texts for the purpose of dating or to make their reconstruction, evaluate them, and analyze their content or style. Noel Carroll demands that in their reviews art critics use “good” reasons, a process that involves choosing among such conceptual tools as contextualization, elucidation, interpretation, and analysis. His style of criticizing, of course, influenced the other reviewers’ analysis of the text, but each of them in some way uses or stretches these techniques to create and develop his critical arguments in different way. That is why, in order to compare the fundamental components of Carroll’s definition of criticism with Poe’s and Wilson’s pieces of art critics and define in what ways their reviews obey and rebel Carroll’s rules, we have to analyze how criticism is described from the Carroll’s point of view.

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Firstly, the main feature of Carroll’s ideas as to criticism is his extraordinarily insightful philosophy. He used to show his positions with striking clearness, and his arguments were thoughtful and rigorous that produced a support for every thought of this critic. Carroll was excellent at critically summarizing. According to his position, criticism is the best way among forms of discussion, discourses about artworks. Carroll was sure that evaluation is the characteristic feature of the important form of criticism. Certainly, criticism’s task is not just to evaluate an artwork but also to give it a go-ahead or a rejection. In criticism, Carroll underlined the necessity of supplying reasons for definition of work’s high or low value.

Secondly, in Carroll’s de%uFB01nition of criticism there are some fundamental factors. The first one is that critics make available high-quality reasons for their judgments. Here, we have to take into consideration that a critical judgment is different from an opinion. The second factor is Carroll’s firmness that criticism’s role is not to attack the work to public but rather to help work’s audience(s) to identify or value the art. Carroll’s consideration of criticism is seen as positive work with a piece of writer’s work. He even points on that fact, “the thing that     we expect most of all in criticism is value” (45).

Thirdly, it is necessary to summarize what Carroll wrote about each of the steps of criticism. It is imperative to note that each of the steps is theoretically distinct from the others, but practically, they may go beyond and/or be indivisible from one another. Thus, we try to analyze in what way Poe and Wilson followed these steps of criticism and compare with Carroll’s point of view on how it had to be.


According to Carroll, a critic has to tell the information about what kind of work it is in his description. It is a concrete description touching the major outlines of a plot, the ensign of highlighted areas, and the elevation and general shape of structure. The main idea of description is to describe the work itself, to call attention, and to emphasize the significance to several parts of the work.

In description of Twice Told Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, Poe presents information about the definition of the term “tale” and the difference between this work and usual poems or stories. He underlines that American tales are not of a high quality and this work should have another title. Thus, Poe criticizes the author’s choice of a title. He emphasizes that the structure of this work is simple with the essays and it could be written much better. Poe insists that the title attracts readers more than the composition of the paper. Poe describes the Hawthorne’s style and stresses that the work is rather interesting for readers, “The style of Mr. Hawthorne is purity itself. His tone is singularly effective–wild, plaintive, thoughtful, and in full accordance with his themes” (69).

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Wilson wrote a short but very clear description of Gilbert Sales’ The Seven Lively Arts. His manner of criticism is rather distinct – only the most important things are presented in a very understandable manner. He also emphasizes the importance of Popular Arts for American culture. At the same time, Poe insists on the fact that Gilbert Sales did not realize the purpose of his book and used different metaphors and jokes, letters and other things so that it was difficult to catch the plot and idea of the book for the reader.

To make a conclusion, we can see that Poe and Wilson though present the work for the readers, but at the same time show their own opinion to the plot, title, and other points, and instead of calling the audience attention, they show their disagreement on different items.


Carroll called it a fundamental task of criticism that places the artwork in its appropriate category/categories. When a reader or viewer knows the category to which the work of art belongs, he forms a sense of some definite expectations as to the work. So, the categories include not only wide art forms, as painting, photo, architecture, novel, but also genres, styles, movements, and others.

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Poe places Twice Told Tales, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, in the category of tales-essays. He characterizes his style as repose one. He notes that Hawthorne’s essays are much common with the makeup of Irving. Poe also considers the composition of the work to be characterized by the lack of novel combination. But, Wilson classifies Gilbert Sales’ The Seven Lively as a narration and a set of books that are very important for the culture and history.

To sum up, it is clear that both critics, Poe and Wilson, don’t explain directly to which category the books belong, but try to give a view on what the artworks look like and how they have to look like in their opinions.


Carroll describes it as “external description”. It covers the explanation of the art historical, socio-cultural, institutional circumstances in which a work has been created. Carroll insists that critics often use contextualization to lend a hand to an audience and help to understand why a set aesthetic advance was pioneering, why the creator achieved this or that kind of expression or technique at that time. It shows the importance of this work in the world culture.

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Poe tries to explain the reader what important effects Nathaniel Hawthorne used in Twice Told Tales. He insists on that fact that the extent of a tale is a very contradictive thing and is not easy to write. And the significance of tales is underlined here.

Wilson always writes a lot about the background of the work he criticizes. One can read a lot in his critical paper about Gilbert Sales’ The Seven Lively Arts where he writes about the history of its creation and the situation that caused its appearance. He also explains what social problems were described and what type of mind people in the book had. Thus, all critics are at one and they use possible information links to describe the art historical, socio-cultural, and institutional circumstances.


Carroll is opposite to the usual interpretation of this term. Critics usually use elucidation in cases they think that an audience has no enough knowledge in order to understand the correct sense of the work. Carroll uses elucidation to identify the literal meaning, explain the symbols in the book.

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In his critical works, Poe tries to explain the main idea of the tales. He clarifies that whereas the rhythm is a crucial aid in the increase of the poem’s vital thought – the thought of the Beautiful – the mendaciousness of this rhythm is an indissoluble bar to the expansion of all points of mind or look which stands on the Truth. However, the Truth is the purpose of the tale.

Wilson uses elucidation in order to help the readers to understand the logical sequels and the usage of metaphors in the writings. He also explains all symbols and the literal meaning of the artwork. No doubt, Poe and Wilson undergo Carroll’s rules of elucidation.


For Carroll, interpretation went further than given with the aim of instituting the importance, thematic significance and narrative implication of the book, or the importance of the character’s behavior, the introduction of a metaphor. Poe and Wilson also try to use the main criteria of interpretation of the writer’s works. Besides, Wilson pays much attention to character’s behavior, gives the explanation to the readers, and shows his point of view according to this question.


It is an explanation of how different parts add together to a united whole. Carroll thinks that analysis is the heart and soul of critical activity. Critical analysis ropes for an estimation of the artwork and shows whether the writer’s goals were achieved successfully.

Poe analyses all details of the Hawthorne’s essays carefully and gives a clear elucidation how these parts of different narrations make total.

Wilson uses a letter style in order to communicate with his readers and in a way of a statement explains how the author uses this or that literature tool in the plot for different purposes.

In conclusion, Carroll’s fundamental works about criticism imprinted on the Poe’s and Wilson’s works, but there are differences in the structure and manner of all critics. In my opinion, Carroll’s definition of criticism is the most successful among the others. It is necessary to underline that Carroll describes criticism as a combination of many purposeful activities. Among them are the description, classi%uFB01cation, contextualization, elucidation, interpretation, and analysis of the artworks. Moreover, criticism involves evaluation of the work based on reasons in addition to these actions. In his works, Carroll is more than ever effective when shows the positive social, aesthetic and intellectual values of criticism.

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