The work of art frequently appeared to be of secondary importance, before 30’s something that merely illustrated “background”
Studying literature was basically biography or history rather than an art
New criticism is a reaction to the traditionalists
Avoid danger of interpreting a literary work solely as biography and history—the end result of the traditional method
Literature is primarily an art; art does not exist in a vacuum. It is a creation by someone at some time in history, and it is intended to speak to other human beings about some idea or issue that has human relevance
Ego—protects the individual; rational governing agent of the psyche; the conscious mind
Super-ego—to protect society, moral censoring agency. Acting either directly through the Ego, the super-ego serves to repress or inhibit the drives of the Id, to block off and thrust back into the unconscious those impulses toward pleasure that society regards as unacceptable. Parental influence develops super-ego.
“ Myth is fundamental, the dramatic representation of our deepest instinctual life, of primary awareness of man in the universe, capable of many configurations, upon which all particular opinions and attitudes depend.”—Mark Schorer
“ Myth is to be defined as a complex of stories—some no doubt fact, and some fantasy—which, for various reasons, human beings regard as demonstrations of the inner meaning of the universe and of human life.”
As with psychological approach, the reader must take care that his enthusiasm for a new-found interpretive key does not tempt him to discard other valuable critical instruments or to try to open all literary doors with this single key.
Myth critic tends to forget that literature is more than a vehicle for archetypes and ritual patterns. He runs the risk of being distracted from the essential experience of the artifact itself; he forgets that literature is above all else, art.
Jungian psychology and its archetypal insights
Primary contribution to myth criticism is his theory of racial memory and archetypes.
Beneath the personal unconscious—primeval, collective unconscious shared in the psychic inheritance of all members of the human family.
Jung believed: “Mind is not born as a tabula rosa (clean slate). Like the body, it has its pre-established individual definiteness; namely forms of behaviour. They become manifest in the ever-recurring patterns of psychic functioning.”
“ Myth-forming” structural elements are ever-present in the unconscious psyche; he refers to the manifestations of these elements as “motifs” “primordial images,” or “archetypes.”