Intrinsic And Extrinsic Approach to text

There are two ways of approaching any text, namely Intrinsic and extrinsic approach.

Intrinsic Approach

Intrinsic Attitude is mainly concerned with the form, language, style, symbols, images, contrast, structure, development of plot in a literary work. Words on the page are of utmost importance in this approach. Intrinsic approach is also called formalism as the basic interest of this approach is in the form of the text.

Intrinsic approach is like a flat canvas on which a critic wants to draw his judgments and criticisms on what is in front of him. A critic of literature using this approach, if judges a painting, he will be more interested in the colors, the size, the curves, style, and contrast of the painting.

Intrinsic approach also emphasizes on the studying of literature as a separate entity. The literature is worth studying in its own right and it uses language in a specific way. In intrinsic approach, text alone is important. While using intrinsic approach, some texts are given importance because of their artistic moral.

A critic of intrinsic approach tries to find meaning in a text, which is often indeterminate. There are no fixed meanings in the intrinsic approach. Intrinsic approach to literature is concerned with the inner and deep meaning of a text and gives no importance to the author. This kind of criticism is mostly called as Practical Criticism or Close Reading.

Extrinsic Approach

Extrinsic attitude is mainly concerned with the contact of a text. The main interest of this approach is background, history, social condition, and biography of the author. A critic of extrinsic attitude judges the text in relation to the author and his/her life. This approach moves from the text to context.

Extrinsic approach is like a window, one does not look on its size and form. It is rather used as a way to look the world outside it. A critic of literature using extrinsic approach sees what are the causes, historical background, and autobiographical reasons for developing a literary work. He is not interested in the form and language, but the reason behind the usage of such things.

According to extrinsic approach, literature is only worth studying because it tells about other things in life. It associates a reader to a bigger context, which is out of the text. In extrinsic approach, text only has meanings in the context.

While using this approach, any sort of text is worthy of study as they all reveal the world. The extrinsic critics regard ever text as a microcosm of the world. Extrinsic attitude draws meanings from the context of the text.

The methods of interpretation that take this approach are: Historicism, Psychoanalytical criticism, Feminism, Political criticism, Biographical approach, etc.


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