There are many approaches to reading and interpreting literature for analysis. One of the more controversial approaches to literary analysis is the formalist approach. The formalist approach to literary analysis emphasizes the objective and literal interpretation of the tone, theme, and style of a literary text. The formalist literary analysis is often referred to as a scientific approach to literature because of the unembellished and literal analysis method that is applied to the written text. Formalist critics do not discuss any elements outside of the text itself such as politics or history. The formalist critic analyzes the form of a text rather than its content. .
A precise identifiable tone is critical from the formalist point of view. A strong voice or character in literature must be able to illuminate and be heard by the formalist critic. Only the voice in the readers" head can be heard. Therefore, unequivocal details, figurative language, and imagery should determine meaning when analyzing the tone of a text when applying the formalistic approach. The tone aids in identifying the meaning of the literature giving the formalist the opportunity to further analyze the text.
The formalist perspective scrutinizes how characteristics, such as the plot, style, and point of view, have an influence on its readers and how they work together to support the theme of a text. The theme of any written literature should have a centralize idea where the reader is expected to gain meaning from the text. Themes deal with a writers" view that usually reveals some insight on human behavior. Formalists expect to identify and analyze the theme with precision and clarity. A theme that is difficult to identify will result in criticism from the formalist perspective due an ineffective attempt to provide a precise identifiable theme. .
When analyzing style from the formalist perspective diction, syntax, and rhythm are significant factors when applying the formalist approach because it distinguishes one author from another.