English Literature


Structuralism literary theory | Structuralism In Literature

Structuralism in Literature


            “Structuralism” is a modern literary theory or movement developed by ‘Ferdinand De Saussure’. He was a Swiss linguist and philosopher. His ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in 20th-century linguistics. His main contribution to Structuralism was his theory of a two-tiered reality about language. The first is the ‘langue’, the abstract and invisible layer, while the second, the ‘parole’, refers to the actual speech that we hear in real life. This framework was later adopted by Claude Levi Strauss, who used the two-tiered model to determine the reality of myths.


            Everything in this world has a structure such as – Our solar system has a structure, A building has a structure and our body has a structure. Nothing in this world is without structure. Similarly, literature also follows a structure. When we read plot or drama, both have different structures. The plot is divided into 5 Parts such as – exposition, rising action, climax, falling action, and resolution. So structuralism is not a new concept. We have been studying structures in literature for a long. But “Structuralism” as a theory came into existence during the 1920s.

Contribution of ‘Ferdinand De Saussure’ in “Structuralism”:

            Saussure was a crucial figure in the development of modern approaches to language study. He was also considered the father of modern linguistics. In the 19th century, linguist scholars mainly focused on the father of modern linguistics. In the 19th century, linguist scholars mainly focused on the historical aspects of language. But it is Saussure in his work. “A Course in General linguistics”, called for a scientific study of a language rather than a historical one. He said in his book ‘A Course in General linguistics:-

            “A language is a system in
             which all the element
             fit together and which the
             value of depends on the
             simultaneous coexistence of
              all the others.”

            Saussure is known as the father of modern linguistics. He is a Structuralist and gave the theory of sign. Saussurean linguistics has three fundamental assumptions:

  1. Arbitrariness
  2. Relational
  3. Systematic

            In order to understand Saussure works, the topic can be divided into the following categories: –

(i) Langue and Parole
(ii) Saussure’s idea of Sign, Signifier, and Signified.
(iii) Structure of language

(I) Langue and Parole:

            By Langue, Saussure meant the language as a system or the grand structure that is complete and independent.

            By Parole, Ferdinand de Saussure indicated the use of language by us as per our requirements. Parole is always dependent on language.

 (II) Saussure’s idea of a sign, signifier, and signified:

            Saussure gave a new concept of sign. The sign means any word or a small unit of language. For example, the word this sign has two parts-  Signifier and Signified. Signifier means the world which we read or the sound which we hear. Signified means the meaning which we derive after reading or hearing the signifier. So there is no fixed meaning attached to the words. The signifier is more important than the signified it is fixed, it does not change Signified keeps on changing from time to time.

(III) Structure Of language:

            Every language has its own structure. If we observe any language carefully, we can find it. When we read or observe the English language we find, the English language follows a certain structure. For example: –

  • Most of the time, the subject of the sentence comes first, the verb comes second, and the objects come last.
  • Capitalize the first letter of the first word in a sentence.
  • End a sentence with a period, question mark, exclamation point, or quotation mark.
  • One can use language using only consonants or using only vowels.
  • The vowel “q” is always followed by “u”, queen, question, query, etc.

            Apart from Ferdinand, there are also some linguists who use structuralism as his ideas, They are – ‘Levi Strauss’, ‘Leonard Bloomfield’, ‘Jean Piaget’, ‘Roman Jakobson’, ‘And David Lodge’.


            Thus now we can say that “Structuralism” is an approach that grew to become one of the most widely used methods of analyzing language, culture, and society in the second half of the 20th century.

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“Feminism” reference to Second sex

Feminism Reference to The Second Sex | The Second Sex Summary

“Feminism” reference to Second sex
“Feminism” reference to Second sex


“Feminism” is a movement influenced by the ideas postulated, popularized, and precipitated by thinkers and authors like “Simone de Beauvoir”, ‘Alice Walker’, ‘Elaine Showalter’, ‘Simone de Beauvoir and Kate Millett, and others. It is a modern movement expressing protest against male domination and involves sociological and political theories concerning gender difference issues. The term ‘Feminism’ was first used with regard to the issues of equality and the Women’s Rights Movement.

Wave Of Feminism

            Jawaharlal Nehru once said, “You can tell the condition of a nation by looking at the status of its women.”

Women of any nation are the mirror of its civilization. Feminism has experienced two waves. The First Wave also called liberal feminism, usually refers to the social movement in that women fought for their legal vote rights and basic civil rights in America and Britain from 1820 to 1920.

The second wave is also known as the women’s liberation moment, which focused on the differences between females and males and discussed the origin and operation of gender discrimination in ideology, culture, and society. It was a period of feminist activity that began in the early 1960s and lasted roughly two decades.

            The modern feminist movement origins from “The Second Sex” by Simone de Beauvoir,

            “One is not born, but rather
             Becomes a woman. No 
             Biological psychological or
             Economic fate determines
             that the human female
             presents in society, it is
             civilization as a whole. That
              produces this creature,
             intermediate between male
             and eunuch, which is
            describes as feminine”.

The Second Sex Feminism

“The Second Sex” is one of the best-known works of the French existentialist “Simone de Beauvoir”. It is a work on the treatment of women throughout history and is often regarded as a significant work of feminist philosophy. Beauvoir researched and wrote the book in about 14 months. She published the book in two volumes – “Fact and Myths” and “Lived Experience.”

Part one is “Destiny” in which she first describes “Biological Data”, the relationship of the ovum to sperm in all kinds of creatures fish, insects mammals. Then Beauvoir proceeds to the human being, comparing the physiology of men and women and saying that women are weaker than men for example, in muscular strength, with fewer red blood cells and a lesser respiratory capacity.

Part two is “History” in which Beauvoir describes two factors explaining the evolution of women’s condition participation in production and freedom from reproductive slavery. She describes man’s gradual domination of women and eventually the opinion of ancient Greeks like Pythagoras who wrote: –

             “There is a good principle
                          that created order, light
                         and man, and a bad
                         principal that created
                         chaos  darkness and

 She also examines the spread of birth control methods and the history of abortion.

Part Three is “Myths” Simone also writes about women’s menstruation, virginity, and female sexuality including copulation, marriage, motherhood, and prostitution. In mythological literature “women are considered as Goddess”. Still, women have to fight with this society for their rights to which only they have the right. Arthur Rimbaud writes hopefully “One day, women can become fully human beings when a man gives her freedom.” Simone also quoted:

“Her wings are cut and
             then she is blamed for
             not knowing how to fly.”

            In the second volume “Lived Experience”, Beauvoir analyses how girls are typically treated throughout their childhood. She contrasts a girl’s upbringing with a boy who at age 3 or 4 is told she is a “little girl”. A girl is taught to be a woman and “Feminine”. Simone described that females only get dignity in only two works 1st is in household work and 2nd one is to provide bed service to their husbands according to their mood.

Women are always expected to be passive and submissive while men are encouraged to be active. The day when it will be possible  for the woman to love in her strength and not love in her strength and not in her weakness, not to escape from herself but to find herself, not out of resignation but to affirm herself, love will become for her as for man the source of life and not a mortal danger.”


            Thus, in the early 20th century, women’s political, social, and economic choices in France were limited due to patriarchal dominance, in almost all aspects of life and business, including the publishing industry. Despite these challenges, de  Beauvoir’ were able to break through these challenges, especially with a book such as “The Second Sex”.

            Although the book “The Second Sex” received much criticism from notable literary figures, the book also praises and supports many others and most importantly women within the feminist movement. Beauvoir’s book played an important role in the second wave of the “Feminist Movement”, especially after being published in the United States.

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Varsha Singh

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Break Break Break Summary & Analysis | Break Break Break Poem

Break Break Break
Break Break Break


                    “Break, Break, Break” is an elegy written by “Alfred Tennyson” in memory of his best friend “Arthur Henry Hallam“. Tennyson wrote this poem after the death of his friend and through this poem, the poet is emphasizing on the beautiful days he spent with his friend and the agony he suffered from the loss of Arthur. It was written in 1835 and first published in 1842. It was written at 5 in the morning. This poem is elegiac and one of many responses to the death of a close friend. He also wrote ‘In Memory’ for his friend, for whom he wrote: “Break, Break, Break.” ‘In Memory’ was read by Queen Victorian herself after the death of her husband.

Break Break Break Poem

Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me.

O, well for the fisherman’s boy,
That he shouts with his sister at play!
O, well for the sailor lad,
That he sings in his boat on the bay!

And the stately ships go on
To their haven under the hill;
But O for the touch of a vanish’d hand,
And the sound of a voice that is still!

Break, break, break
At the foot of thy crags, O Sea!
But the tender grace of a day that is dead
Will never come back to me.

About Poet

                              “Alfred Lord Tennyson” was the most renowned poet of the Victorian Era. Born in England in 1809, he began writing poetry right from his boyhood. He was also known as a poet Laureate. Poet Laureate means royal poet Before this the Royal Poet was Wordsworth and then this title was given to ‘Alfred Lord Tennyson’. Some of his most famous poems are ‘Mariana’, ‘The Lady of Shalott’, ‘In Memory’, ‘Ulysses’, ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade, Crossing the Bar’ etc. His poems are very rhythmic and deal with the theme of death and lamentation.

The theme of The Break Break Break Poem

                    There are four main themes in the Poem.

  1. The theme of Death.
  2. The theme of Time.
  3. The theme of Memory and Nostalgia.
  4. The theme of Youth.

Structure and form Of The Poem

                     The poem consists of four stanzas. Each stanza consists of four lines, thus called also a quatrain. In the first and last stanza, the poet addresses the sea, expressing his sadness and sense of loss. The middle two stanzas present an image of joy and happiness.

         The rhyme scheme of each stanza is abab. In regards to the meter, there are various patterns that change throughout the poem.

Explanation of the Break Break Break poem

                    In the first stanza, the poet says the torment of his heart is tremendous. There is a struggle like the struggle of the sea waves on the stormy shores. The speaker also feels frustrated because the sea can keep moving and making noise while he is unable to utter his thoughts. The sea’s loud roar and its ability to vent its energy are something he lacks. The question before him is how he can express adequately the thoughts which are rushing in his mind.

         In the second stanza, the poet says that life is full of joy for the fisherman’s son and daughter who are laughing and shouting merrily. The poet on the other hand is entirely in a different mood. He is restless and grief-stricken at the death of his friend. The poet admires the innocent joy of these youngsters but he is sorry because he cannot share it. The lad of the sailor is also happy and sings in his boat face to face-with the magnificence of the sea. But such joy is not for the poet.

         In the third stanza, the poet says that the majestic ships ply on their destination under the hill. The poet, however, has no definite plan for his life and misses his friend, Arthur Henry Hallam whose voice and touch were so soft and tender. The grief of the poet is terribly intense.

            In the fourth stanza, the poet asks the waves to go on strike against the sea shore, but the poet cannot recall the past experience that he enjoyed in the company of his friend. The waves come again, again, again hitting a wall of rock each time. But for him, there is no return of the dead, just the recurring pain of loss. Nevertheless, both the sea and the speaker continue with their useless but repeated action, as though there is no choice. The scene evokes a sense of inevitability and hopelessness.


             Thus, now we can say that the poem Break, Break, Break is one of the most famous elegiac poems ever written by Alfred Tennyson. The central idea of the poem is the loss of a loved one. The emotions the poet indirectly describes pertain to this loss and the medium used to describe it, the sea and all that it consists of also focuses on the feeling of loss and separation.

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Tags: break break break poem, break break break summary, break break break analysis, break break break poem analysis, summary of break break break, poem of break break break

– Varsha Singh

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An Apology for Poetry Or The Defence of Poesy

An Apology for Poetry | The Defence of Poesy By Philip Sidney

An Apology for Poetry Or The Defence of Poesy
An Apology for Poetry Or The Defence of Poesy


            “An Apology for Poetry” or “The Defence of Poesy” is one of the fines creations in the history of English Criticism. It is written by ‘Sir Philip Sidney’ the foremost poet of the Elizabethan Age. It was written in approximately 1580 and first published in 1595, after his death. Sidney as a critic one of the most important is the introduction of ‘Aristotelianism’ into England. J.E. Springarn states: –

“The introduction of Aristotelianism into England”
 was the direct result of the influence of the Italian Critics:
and the agent in bringing this new influence to
letters were sir Philip Sidney.”


            As a writer, Sidney is known for three principal works – “The Arcadia”, “Astrophel and Stella” and “An Apology for Poetry”, all published after his death. ‘An Apology for Poetry’ is indeed an epitome of Renaissance Criticism. It deals with his views on the nature and function of poetry.


               Basically, Sidney wrote his “An Apology for Poetry” to refute ‘Stephen Gosson’s Charges against poetry. Stephen Gosson published his attack on poetry in 1579. Gosson draws heavy examples from the classical literature of Greece and ancient  Rome to argue that it was not without reason that Plato banished the poet from his ideal state. As Stephen Gosson Says:

  1. Poetry is the “mother of lies”.
  2. There being much faithful knowledge a man might better spend his time in them than in poetry.
  3. Poetry has a wanton and corrupting influence.
  4. Stephen Gosson called poet with the pipers and jesters and called them caterpillars of commonwealth all alike enemies of virtue.

                        The reaction was needed, and this reaction was clearly visible with the publication of Sidney’s “An Apology for Poetry”. He attacks Gosson’s view on Poetry and establishes a valid identity of poetry as a part of literature and our existence.

The Special Claims for Poetry made by Sidney

            Sidney made some special claims for poetry. These claims were based on poetry’s divine origin, prophetic nature, cultural and social value, and universal appeal.

            Sidney mocked the critic of poetry. They were according to him like jesters and fools. They failed to understand that poetry had been an instrument for making the barbarous nation civilized.

            The first claim for poetry is based upon its divine origin Romans called poet ‘vates’ which is as much as a diviner, foreseer of the prophet. The poet is not only an imitator of nature. He is the maker. God has made him in his image and has given him the power of creation. The divine nature of poetry is further suggested by a remark from Sydney,

                        “Poets are born, not made.”

            The claim for poetry also is based on its prophetic nature. It doesn’t deal with things as they are or as they were it tells us of things as they ought to be. Poets have rightly termed ‘vates’. They imitate, teach and delight as the prophets sing of virtue. Poetry has cultural value also. It has civilizing force. Poetry deals with universal and has general appeal.

            Thus, Sidney by showing the universality and charm of poetry and proves that poetry is not a corrupter of mankind. It is purifying and ennobles mankind.

The function of Poetry according to Sidney

            According to Sidney, all knowledge aims at the teaching of virtues. He admits that ‘Philosophy’ and ‘History’ also teach virtue but they are not superior to poetry in playing their parts. The philosopher sets down percept and rules by thorny argument. His knowledge stands upon abstract and general. But the poet deals with the universal. He produces wisdom and temperance. Sidney concludes that the philosopher teaches but he teaches obscurely. So as the learned only can understand him.

            Though Rousse greatly influenced William Wordsworth the poetry of Wordsworth is more delightful and charming than Rousseau’s philosophy of nature.

            The poet teaches much more and in a better way than history. The historian deals with the fact that ‘were’ and ‘Are’ but he cannot foretell the future. The past, present, and future shine in the verse of poets. He is one step ahead of the historian who writes of the past and presents only.

            The description of World War two which we find in Rupert Brooks’s poem is more realistic than any other history book of World War II. Poetry does teach much more than philosophy and history do.

Kind of Poetry

            After having discussed the function of poetry. Sidney then proceeds to analyze several kinds of poetry. There are three board divisions of poetry. There are three broad divisions of poetry.

  1. Religious Poetry
  2. Philosophical poetry
  3. Imaginative poetry


            Thus, Sidney has proved that by nature poetry imitates its function to teach and delight. Dr. Johnson’s dictum that Dryden is the father of English Criticism seems unacceptable. Dryden came later and drew his inspiration from the English critical tradition established by Sidney.

Another Related Topic: Defence Of Poetry By P. B. Shelly

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Grimm's Law

Grimm’s Law | Grimm’s Law Examples

Grimm's Law
Grimm’s Law

“Grimm’s Law” is discovered by the great German linguist Jacob Grimm, who was a Philo gist, jurist, and folklorist. His full name was Jacob Ludwing Karl Grimm.”

Grimm’s Law

                                    It shows the systematic relation between consonants in other Indo-European languages stating what phonetic changes took place. It also shows that changes in a language and groups of languages come about gradually and not as a result of random word changes. This change was first formulated as a law by one German philologist named Jacob Grimm in 1822. The law formula led by Grimm has been named after him and is hence familiarly known in the History of English as ‘Grimm’s Law.’

            Grimm discovered certain correspondences between some consonant sounds occurring in the words of classical languages like Sanskrit Latin and Greek and those of Teutonic languages like English and Gothic. Grimm stated that there is the regular shifting of a particular series of Indo-Germanic consonant sounds in Teutonic. To illustrate these sound shifting we can take words from the classical language like Sanskrit, Latin, and Greek as representative of the Indo-European consonant system that is best preserved in these languages. Words from old English modern English or Gothic may be taken to represent the Teutonic Sound.

On the basis of change, we can divide it into three parts

  • Indo-European voiced aspirated stop sounds ‘bh’, ‘gh’, and ‘dh’, become shifted in Teutonic to corresponding voiced stop sounds ‘b’, ‘g’, and ‘d’ that means:-
  • Indo-European voiced aspirated stops sounds ‘bh’ becomes Teutonic ‘b’.

Example –

Indo-European (Sanskrit) Modern English (Teutonic)
Bharata        Brother
  • Again Indo European ‘gh’ becomes Teutonic ‘g’

Example –

Indo-European (Sanskrit) Modern English (Teutonic)
   Stigh             Stig
  • Again Indo European ‘dh’ becomes Teutonic ‘d’

Example –

Indo-European (Sanskrit)   Modern English (Teutonic)
 Madhya  Middle
  •  The Indo-European voice stop sounds ‘b’, ‘d’, and ‘g’ are shifted in Teutonic to the corresponding voiceless sounds ‘p’, ‘t’, and ‘k’ that means: –
  • Indo-European ‘b’ becomes Teutonic ‘p’


Indo-European     Gothic
  Lurbricus      Sliupan

Indo-European‘ d’ becomes Teutonic ‘t’

Example –

Svadu      Sweet

Again Indo-European ‘g’ becomes Teutonic ‘k’

                  Example –

Latin  Gothic   Modern English
  • Indo-European voiceless stops sounds ‘p’, ‘t’, and ‘k’ become shifted in Teutonic to the corresponding voiceless open sounds ‘f’, ‘th’, and ‘h’
  • Indo-European ‘p’ becomes Teutonic ‘f’

Example –

Sanskrit  English
Pancha Five
  • Indo-European‘ t’ becomes Teutonic ‘th’

Example –


Another example –


Indo-European ‘k’ becomes Teutonic ‘h’

Example –


Grimm’s Law, however, did not operate under certain circumstances.

If Indo-European ‘p’ or ‘k’ happened to be followed by ‘t’ the ‘t’ remained unchanged so that from the combination of ‘pt’, and ‘kt’ we have in Teutonic ‘ft’, and ‘ht’. Again by an ‘s’ in Indo-European, the combinations remained unchanged in Teutonic.

Example –  

Sanskrit   Old English


      Thus, we see that after the formulation of Grimm’s law, it was found that there were certain apparent exceptions to it. In a pair of words like Latin ‘Centum’ and hundreds the correspondence between the ‘c’ (k) and ‘h’ was according to Grimm’s Law – but, there was no such correspondence between the ‘t’ of certain and ‘d’ of hundred.

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