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Q: Matthew Arnold as a CRITIC?

After the romantic period, which was known as the


period of confusion in criticism Arnold again forced
authority. He was a stern and grave critic who put
down certain ideologies of criticism and educated
others how to criticize.
Matthew Arnold perceived the critic quite different
from any other before him. According to him, criticism
did not come from the branch of philosophy. It was not
even a craft; it was a form of art, the art of judgment.
He says that a critic should belong to no party whether
intellectual, religious or political. He should learn to
think objectively, he should demonstrate that this is
better than that.
Criticism ought to be a ‘dissemination of ideas, an
unprejudiced and impartial effort to study and spread
the best that is known and thought in the world’, is
what Matthew Arnold says in his essay- The Function of
Criticism at the Present Time (1864). He writes that
when assessing a particular work, the goal is ‘to see the
object as in itself it really is’. Psychological, historical
and sociological backgrounds are immaterial. This
attitude was very influential and particularly
noteworthy with later critics.
In his pursuit for the best, a critic Arnold believed that
it should not only restrict or limit himself to the
literature works of his own country but should draw
significantly on foreign literature and ideas to a large
extent because the spreading of ideas should be an
objective venture.
Arnold says criticism is nothing if it is not related to life.
Life is the main thing. So his criticism of literature,
society, politics, and religion all tends towards being a
criticism of life. So does his poetic activity. Thus
criticism with Arnold denotes a comprehensive activity
which embraces all the departments of life. He himself
defines criticism as “the endeavor, in all branches of
knowledge, theology, philosophy, history, art, science,
to see the object as in itself it really is.
The critic’s part in this procedure necessitates that he
disinterestedly identifies the greatness in writing and
use his critical powers to communicate this greatness to
the common man. Arnold makes an effort to
demonstrate that criticism in and of itself has several
significant functions and should be observed as an art
form that is as high and important as any creative art
form.