1. Involvement of Structural Laws.
2. Individual phenomenon.
3. Concern with relational meaning not substantial meaning.
4. Structuralism brackets off or leaves the actual contents and concentrates in
Laws underlying these contents.
5. Individual units are replaceable and do not effect the everlasting laws.
6. Obvious Cultural Values provides the actual meaning and context of the
narrative formulate its structure.
7. in 1960, Literary Structuralism
8. Ferdinand de Saussure, s five Points.
9. The System of Signs & those Laws which combine science with meaning are
the base of structuralism.
10. Russian Roman Jacobson explains difference between formalism and
11. Poetry as a part of linguistics
12. 06 elements of communication
Structuralism is nothing but an extension to the Formalism, propounded by Russian Critic
Roman Jakobson constructing an edifice on the foundations provided by Ferdinand de
Saussure. Combination of Formalism & Science erected the statue of Structuralism. It is an
attempt to analyze a specific filed as a complex system of interrelated parts. French
modifiers utilize structuralism not only for linguistics but also for anthropology,
Psychoanalysis & literary theory.
Fredric Jameson argues that it is an attempt to rethink every thing through once again in
terms of linguistics; it is a symptom of the fact that language, with its problem, mysteries
and implication has become both paradigm and obsession for twentieth century intellectual
But generally, Structuralism is an attempt to apply this linguistic theory to objects and
activities other than language itself. Viewing a myth, wrestling match, system of tribal
kinship, restaurant menu or oil painting is a system of signs for a viewer but a structuralist
analysis will try to isolate the underlying set of laws by which these signs are combined
into meanings. It is said that Literature is based on objectivity and has no relation with
subjectivity but eye of a structuralist finds laws in Literature, applying these laws like
Eagleton has beautifully tried to illustrate structuralism with the help of a tale in the
“Let me try to illustrate this by a simple example. Suppose we are analyzing a story in
which a boy leaves home after quarrelling with his father, sets out on a walk through the
forest in the heat of the day and falls down a deep pit. The father comes out in search of his
son, peers down the pit, but is unable to see him because of the darkness. At that moment
the sun has risen to a point directly overhead, illuminates the pit’s depths with its rays and
allows the father to rescue his child. After a joyous reconciliation, they returned home
This may not be a particularly gripping narrative, but it has the advantage of simplicity,
clearly it could be interpreted in all sor s of ways.
A psychoanalytical critic might detect defini e hints of the Oedipus complex in it, and show
how the child’s fall into the pit is a punishment he unconsciously wishes upon himself for
the rift with his father, perhaps a for of symbolic castration or a symbolic recourse to his
A humanist critic might read it as a poignant dramatization of the difficulties implicit in
human relationship. Another kind of critic might see it as an extended, rather pointless
word-pay on ‘son/sun’.
What a structuralist critic would do would be to schematize the story in diagrammatic
form. The first unit of signification, ‘boy quarrels with father’, might be rewritten as ‘low
rebels against high’. The boy’s walk through the forest is a movement along a horizontal
axis, in contrast to the vertical axis ‘low/ high’, and could be indexed as ‘middle’. The fall
into the pit, a place below ground, signifies ‘low’ again, and the zenith of the sun ‘high’.
By shining into the pit, the sun has in a sense stopped ‘low’ thus inverting the narrative’s
first signifying unit, where ‘low’ struck against ‘high’. The reconciliation between father
and son restores and equilibrium between ‘low’ and ‘high’, and the walk back home
together, signifying ‘middle’, marks this achievement of a suitably intermediate state.
Flushed with triumph, the structuralist rearranges his rulers and reaches for the next story.”
Ferdinand De Saussure propounded theory of arbitrariness regarding language and let the
world know 05 points which are as under:-
Language has a diachronic structure not the synchronic.
Idea of signifier and signified
Relation between signifier and signified is arbitrary
Each sign has a different meaning from the other sign
Idea of langue (objective structure of signs which makes their speech
possible in the first place) and parole (actual speech).
Notable thing is that this kind of analysis is like formalism as it brackets off the actual
content of the story and concentrates entirely on the form. Father and son or pit and sun can
be replaced with mother and daughter or bird and mole but the story remains same.
Saussure’s linguistic views influenced the formalists although Formalism is not itself
exactly a structuralism. It views literary texts structurally and suspends attention to the
referent to examine the sign itself, but it is not particularly concerned with meaning as
differential or, in much of its work, with the ‘deep’ laws and structures underlying literary
texts. It was one of the Russian Formalists, however-the linguist Roman Jakobson-who was
to provide the major link between Formalism and modern day structuralism. Jakobson was
leader of Moscow Linguistic Circle; a Formalist group founded in 1915, and in 1920
migrated to Prague to become one of the major theoreticians of Czech structuralism. The
Prague linguistic circle was founded in 1926, and survived until the outbreak of the Second
World War. Jakobson later migrated once more, this time to the United States, where he
encountered the French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss during the Second World War,
an intellectual relationship out of which much of modern structuralism was to develop.
Jacobson’s influence can be detected everywhere with in Formalism, Czech structuralism
and modern linguistics.
06 elements of communication are as under:-
The alpha & Omega of this discussion is that structuralism is an umbrella term which
consists of a number of other theories & this approach focused on examining how the
elements of language related to each other in the present , that is, synchronically , rather
1. Rice & Waugh, (1992), Modern Literary Theory, A Reader, Second Edition,
Edward Arnold, London
2. Eagleton, (1998), Literary Theory, An Introduction, Second Edition, Minnesota,
3. Rivkin & Mechael, (2002), Literary theory: An Anthology, Revised Edition,
Blackwell Publishers, USA.
4. Wolfreys, (1999), Literary Theories: A Reader and Guide, Edinburgh
University Press, London.