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Literary Theory: Comparing the Feminist and the New Criticism

One thing that should become clear after having taken a class on literary theory is that, no matter what different schools of criticism claim, there is no one perfect interpretation of any literary work. At first sight, this statement may seem discouraging as it suggests that, no matter what approach to analyzing texts we resort to, we will not arrive at the Truth because any other explanation (provided it can obtain enough proof within the text frame) of the same work will be as true as ours. Nevertheless, different ways of analyzing and interpreting may open up different worlds within the same text, making it interesting and worthwhile for everyone and preserving it from stagnation. Therefore, the comparison between the New Criticism and the Feminist Criticism made in this essay does not aim at finding out which approach to analyzing literature is better: on the contrary, its goal is to show how they can coexist, supplementing each other, and achieve a greater result in exploring essentially fathomless depths of a literary work. For this purpose a poem “Affairs of the Heart” by Greg Lake (a member of an English rock-band ELP) and Geoff Downes was used.

Affairs of the Heart (Downes/Lake)

She looked at me across the room
Emerging from a silk cocoon
Along beneath Venetian chandeliers.
Against the moon her body rocks,
Her eyes were cunning like a fox
The wings of passion fly on all frontiers.

From this fire there’s no returning,
No escape: your heart is burning.
Love becomes a lethal weapon.
No one is to smart
In affairs of the heart.

Now upon the bridge she waits,
Dreaming of our tangled fates;
Her face was like a ghost with eyes of jade.
I fell just like a falling star,
A victim of this coup d’etat,
I could not see behind this masquerade

From this fire there’s no returning,
No escape: your heart is burning.
Love becomes a lethal weapon.
Be careful where you start
In affairs of the heart

Sometimes I think I’ll never learn:
Were all those promises in vain?
Do the wings of fire still remain?

All is fair in love and war,
The tender draw the shortest straw,
Like autumn leaves, they vanish in the air.
Is this the time we say good-bye?
I call her room there’s no reply;
Tonight we end this fleeting love affair.

From this fire there’s no returning,
No escape, your heart is burning.
Love becomes a lethal weapon.
Sharper than a dart
In affairs of the heart

Next: “Affairs of the Heart” – the Feminist Criticism – Part I

Essays on Literary Theory

Love Poetry