An Analysis Of Arnold's Essay, The Function Of Criticism At The Present Time

1202 words - 5 pages

The first thing to start with is the title. In order to understand Arnold’s essay we should first understand the title of the essay. As we notice that Matthew Arnold associates criticism with one function not many functions, but which function? He also mentions that this function of criticism is limited within a specific and particular time which is the present time and the past or the future time. Therefore, answering the questions of function and time of criticism goes with analyzing Matthew Arnold‘s essay through my reading of his essay. It becomes clear that Arnold defends the importance of criticism. That’s to say he tries to display that the critical mind is of a paramount importance as well as the creative mind.
A Brief Biography
Arnold, Matthew 1822-1888, English poet and critic, he was a leading literary figure of the Victorian period, and the foremost literary figure of his age. His writings have a distinct style which is characterized by the use of symbolism and earnestness.
Arnold, Matthew was born in Lalehan, Middlesex; he is the son of Thomas Arnold, a famous historian and head master of rugby school the famous independent school. Arnold himself studied at this school and Balliol College, university of Oxford. In 1851, Arnold served as an inspector of schools for the British government. Most of his poems were published between 1849 and 1855. His first book of poetry, The Strayed Reveller and Other Poems, was published in 1849.his first piece as a critic was Preface to the Poems which appeared in 1853. In 1857, Arnold became a professor of poetry at Oxford University and retained this position for ten years 1867.
In this essay, Arnold Matthew discusses the tenuous relationship between criticism and creation. Literary criticism had been taking place for years; it was generally disregarded and held as useless. The creative mind was considered as the peak of creativity and inspiration whereas the critical mind was considered of less importance. William Wordsworth, the most famous opponent of the critical mind considers criticism as a waste of time. He was one of those who criticized Arnold Matthew because he gives much importance to the critical effort over the creative effort. Wordsworth states that critics would be employed in original composition his reasoning behind this statement is injury to the mind of others. That criticism can cause in contrast to the harmlessness of prose or verse. As a reaction against Wordsworth, Matthew Arnold questions whether criticism in injurious to minds. For Arnold Matthew, Wordsworth judgment on criticism has a sense of exaggeration and this is due to the severe criticism which was received by Wordsworth from critics.
More importantly, Arnold tries to refute the idea that the critical power is of lower importance than the creative power. Both creative power and critical power are complementary and of equal importance, because man finds his true happiness within the creative...

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