ⓘ Critical lens

Critical lens

ⓘ Critical lens

A critical lens is a way of looking at a particular work of literature by focusing on style choices, plot devices, and character interactions and how they show a certain theme. It is a common literary analysis technique.


1.1. Types Psychoanalytic

Also called the Freudian or Jungian critical lens, this school of thought analyzes the psychological motives of the characters. Jungian literary criticism in particular focuses on archetypes.


1.2. Types Gender/Queer Studies

The gender/queer lens, while influenced by the feminist lens, treats gender as more of a spectrum, and also considers human sexuality. David Richter notes in The Critical Tradition: Classic Texts and Contemporary Trends that "XXY syndromes, natural sexual bimorphisms, as well as surgical transsexuals amendment, and not their approbation", reflecting the belief at the time that the novel was primarily a method for instruction of the populace, and entertainment was only a secondary goal. This is especially true in books for children from the time - see for example the book that a young Jane Eyre is given by Mr. Brocklehurst, which "is a book entitled the Childs Guide, read it with prayer, especially that part containing An account of the awfully sudden death of Martha G -, a naughty child addicted to falsehood and deceit" - this is meant to instruct Jane in the consequences of lying, and was common in childrens literature of the time. This lens is common in analysis of religious works.


1.3. Types Ecocriticism

Ecocriticism addresses the work from an environmental and ecological perspective.


2. Criticism

There is often argument on how the author and their viewpoints and life should affect analysis of the work. More modern analysis tends to examine the work separate from the author. There is also argument on whether or not this type of analysis tends to read too heavily into a work.