The Formalism School of Literary Criticism

1. Introduction:

Formalism is a school of literary criticism that emphasizes the study of a text’s form and structure rather than its content. The fundamental aspect of a formalist critic is to visualize a literary work from the perspective of “language, structure and tone”. Such criticism is about the vibe of literature.

2. The Language of Formalism:

Formalists believed that the way a text is written (its language) is more important than what it says (its content). They thought that by looking closely at the language of a text, we can understand its hidden meaning.

3. The Structure of Formalism:

Formalists also paid attention to the way a text is structured. They believed that the way a text is organized can tell us a lot about its hidden meaning.

4. The Tone of Formalism:

Last but not least, formalists were also interested in the tone of a text. They thought that the tone can reveal the author’s true intentions.

5. Conclusion:

In conclusion, formalism is a literary theory that emphasizes the study of a text’s form, language, structure and tone. Formalists believed that by looking closely at these elements, we can understand a text’s hidden meaning.


Formalist literary criticism is characterised by its focus on the formal features of a text, such as its structure, language, and style.

Formalist critics believe that the meaning of a text is inherent in its form, and that it is the critic’s job to uncover this meaning.

Some of the main criticisms levelled against formalism are that it is overly technical and ignores the context in which a text was produced.

Despite its detractors, there is still value in adopting a formalist approach to literary criticism today as it can help us to better understand how texts work.