Select a work of literature we have covered in class. Casting your mind back to the various forms of critical analysis, pick one (other than Reader-Response criticism) which you believe will help you to interpret your text. With reference to your own thoughts, to principles of criticism, and to common sense, write an analysis or interpretation of the text of your choice, making its meaning and message clear to your reader.
You might take Guy De Maupassant’s “The Necklace” and examine it from a Freudian perspective. What makes Mathilde behave as she does? What motivates that kind of selfishness? Is it an inferiority complex? Some sort of self-destructive tendency? The dominance of the Id or the Ego? What evidence do you find in the text to support your interpretation? What have other Freudian analysts had to say about it? Alternatively, you might examine Loisel’s role in the story. What accounts for his weakness, and his willingness to give in to Mathilde?
Perhaps you would like to discuss the story from a Feminist perspective. Why is it so important to Mathilde to win the admiration of important men? Why should their opinions count more than her husband’s? Is she attempting to assert herself, or is she in fact buying into the myth of male dominance? Is she yielding to men? To what extend is her behavior explained by Feminist theory? What do other feminist critics have to say on the subject?
You could also look at this story from the point of view of a Marxist critic. How does the political system of the Second Empire under Louis Napoleon Bonarparte warp the values of those who live within it? How is the class system destructive? How is Mathilde a victim of this system? What do other Marxist critics have to say about it?
Again, you could look at this work from a Biographical-Historical perspective. What was happening historically when Maupassant wrote this story? What in his own life prompted him to write “The Necklace”? What was he criticizing, or trying to emphasize? How is the work an outgrowth or a reflection of its time? Does it mirror the real world? What do other Biographical-Historical critics have to say about it?
These are just a few ways you could look at “The Necklace.” You might even develop your own critical method or attempt to understand a text in light of other academic theories or philosophies. Each method will help you to understand the text in a slightly different way, opening your eyes to possibilities you might not otherwise have considered.