Reader Response Theory

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Readers have been responding to what they have read and experienced since the dawn of literature. For example, we have Plate and Aristotle who were concerned about audience responses and how plays generated pity and fear on them. Still, the audience or readers were passive. After the appearance of reader response theory, readers are activated. They involve themselves to elaborate the text, fill in the gaps and enact their experiences with the text. Most reader response critics can be divided into three groups. One of these groups is, as they are called, the structuralist. They believe that the reader must be an active participant in the creation of meaning. The meaning, for them, is considered as a complex system of signs and codes that the reader should discover. Borrowing their linguistic vocabulary, theory and methods from Saussure, structutalists believe that codes, signs and rules must be solved in the text to get its meaning. They also think that every reader has literary competence that makes us, as readers, unite with the text, provide interpretation and adjust our reading or other`s interpretation`s to it. We, as a structualist reader, can see that Edgar Alan Poe`s “the Fall of House of Usher” is a good example to be read through the strucsturalist criteria. We can apply it on the thematic unity and two important codes in the story. To begin with the thematic unity, we know that the unity is not only a textual unity, but it is the way that the readers use to interpret the text. At the begging of Allan Poe`s story, the thematic unity is established. Then we can follow it through the whole story. It is a theme of a mysterious unity of a universe. We can find mystery in words and images such as “a dull, dark, soundless day in the autumn of the year”. Even the year here is not specified to make it more ambiguous. The title itself “the Fall of House of Usher” includes the name of the man and the house itself, so we have analogy between the

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