Overview & Summary Victorian Criticism & Matthew Arnold
Victorian Criticism: Matthew Arnold
Complied by Mohamed Zayed
The Victorian Age was an age of skepticism and the loss of religion as a result of scientific and industrial revolution. Matthew Arnold is considered the father of modern English criticism.
Arnold and “The Function of Criticism”:
He is famous for his essay “The Function of Criticism”. That essay seeks to redefine the main responsibilities of criticism. In it, Arnold believes that creative power—the power to criticize—is the highest function of man. Arnold believes that a literary work doesn’t revolve around analysis and discovery but around creativity and proper explanation of such creativity “synthesis and exposition”. A literary work must be inspired by certain conditions and spiritual atmosphere. The aim or the function of a literary work is to express these ideas in an effective and attractive combination in a beautiful form. Hence, the function of criticism is to establish an order of ideas and to make the best ideas get control. It is through literary criticism that we can see the object or the work as it really is. Arnold wishes to apply scientific methods and reason to literary criticism.