Stanford University The Cabin Film Review

Watch a movie of your choice and analyze the movie using a literary criticism/theory to guide your analysis. While watching, think about how each theory or criticism presents itself within the movie, particularly through the literary elements we previously discussed in class, and the new literary elements that pertain specifically to drama, such as dialogue, setting, and spectacle.You may choose whatever platform (cable, Netflix, Hulu) to watch the movie of your choice; however, keep in mind that EFSC also offers the Feature Films database to stream.

Choose a literary criticism/theory to guide your analysis.

You must have a topic sentence/thesis, at least two examples with analysis , and a concluding sentence. As always, in your examples, make sure to use textual evidence (quotes or paraphrases to prove your point).

This post should be approximately 500 words/ 8-10 sentences. Do not use fluff; I will know. Historical criticism analyzes the text by first researching the author’s life and the time period in which the author created the text. By understanding major events that took place while the author created the text, literary scholars can identify nuances in the story that relate back to the time period; thus, scholars are able to connect how history influenced the text (Gardner et al. 1353).

New historicism considers how history influences literature and how literature influences history to provide modern readers with an informed experience, similar to that of the original readers. New historicists will often read the piece of literature alongside nonliterary texts, such as government records, periodicals, bills of sales, and private diaries to see how the texts connect to give a fuller understanding of the time period (1354).

Cultural Studies:

Cultural studies acknowledge that certain texts are privileged and others are dismissed. Privileged texts are often called the “great works” and are considered high art, like Shakespeare, Milton, and Keats. Some cultural critics celebrate historically dismissed or disadvantaged authors, like African American, Hispanic, or gay and lesbian writers; other cultural critics study works from social outsiders, like prisoners, people with disabilities, and children. Cultural critics seek to broaden canon by blurring the line between what is considered high art and low art, believing that both contribute to a culture’s identity (1351-52).

Postcolonial Criticism: (Links to an external site.)

Postcolonial critics seek to recover literary history that was previously suppressed during the colonial period, while still attempting to understand how the indigenous culture was altered during and after colonization. Critics in this lens demand respect for the indigenous culture and customs within their different forms of arts and literature (1352-53). Many critics look to works that are from places that were previously colonized by early leading western countries, such as India, South America, and the Caribbean. You may also notice these traits in may sci-fi and fantasy novels.

Feminist: (Links to an external site.)

Early feminist criticism focused on raising awareness about the patriarchal society in which women were repressed. Some feminist critics sought out and revealed works from different time periods and cultures that demonstrated the oppression women commonly faced. Many critics chose to reveal female characters who became empowered by overcoming the patriarchal system in which they lived. Other feminist scholars rediscovered women authors who had been overlooked throughout history and promoted these authors’ works (1349).

Gender Criticism:

Feminist criticism has progressed into gender criticism. Gender criticism acknowledges that both men and women are socialized, forcing them to think and act in accordance to what society deems as acceptable. Gender criticism reveals and highlights gender roles within literary texts (1349).

Queer Theory: (Links to an external site.)

Many queer theorists seek to destabilize social norms that claim that some relationships and sexual preferences are natural while others are not. Some theorists insist that sexuality or even the gender binary (male vs. female) is a social construct. When reading literature through this lens, critics usually focus on works written by authors who are or are suspected to be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender, and/ or authors who portray characters within a text that fall into this category; still, some theorist will focus on queer subtext in previously considered hetero-normative canonical works (1350).

Marxist Criticism: (Links to an external site.)

According to Gardner et al., “Early Marxist critics began with Karl Marx (1818-1883) insistence that human interactions are economically driven and that the basic model of human progress is based on the struggle for power between different social classes” (1350). Marxist critics acknowledge and reveal the socioeconomic forces within a piece of literature, the power struggle and inequalities in power between certain characters, and the impact the author’s social class or education has on the text (1351).

Psychological Theories : (Links to an external site.)

According to Gardner et al., psychological literary criticism focuses on the “internal mental states, the desire, and the motivations” (1355) of literary characters or the author of a piece of literature. Psychological critics often interpret symbols to discover the “deeper, less obvious meaning” (1355), similar to analyzing a dream. Critics also focus on motives and the state of mind of the characters, authors, and readers. Furthermore, psychological critics analyze the reader’s subconscious to examine why readers are drawn to or repelled by certain forms of literature (1355). Anthropomorphism or personification


Anthropomorphism can be understood to be the act of lending a human quality, emotion or ambition to a non-human object or being. This act of lending a human element to a non-human subject is often employed in order to endear the latter to the readers or audience and increase the level of relativity between the two while also lending character to the subject.


The raging storm brought with it howling winds and fierce lightning as the residents of the village looked up at the angry skies in alarm.
helpful video: Personification (Links to an external site.)



An archetype is a reference to a concept, a person or an object that has served as a prototype of its kind and is the original idea that has come to be used over and over again. Archetypes are literary devices that employ the use of a famous concept, person or object to convey a wealth of meaning. Archetypes are immediately identifiable and even though they run the risk of being overused, they are still the best examples of their kind.


Romeo and Juliet are an archetype of eternal love and a star-crossed love story.
Helpful video: Archetype (Links to an external site.)



Characterization in literature refers the step by step process wherein an author introduces and then describes a character. The character can be described directly by the author or indirectly through the actions, thoughts, and speech of the character.

  • Dynamic – A dynamic character is a person who changes over time, usually as a result of resolving a central conflict or facing a major crisis. Most dynamic characters tend to be central rather than peripheral characters, because resolving the conflict is the major role of central characters.
  • Static – A static character is someone who does not change over time; his or her personality does not transform or evolve.
  • Round – A rounded character is anyone who has a complex personality; he or she is often portrayed as a conflicted and contradictory person.
  • Flat – A flat character is the opposite of a round character. This literary personality is notable for one kind of personality trait or characteristic.
  • Stock – Stock characters are those types of characters who have become conventional or stereotypicalthrough repeated use in particular types of stories. Stock characters are instantly recognizable to readers or audience members (e.g. the femme fatale, the cynical but moral private eye, the mad scientist, the geeky boy with glasses, and the faithful sidekick). Stock characters are normally one-dimensional flatcharacters, but sometimes stock personalities are deeply conflicted, rounded characters (e.g. the “Hamlet” type).
  • Protagonist – The protagonist is the central person in a story, and is often referred to as the story’s main character. He or she (or they) is faced with a conflict that must be resolved. The protagonist may not always be admirable (e.g. an anti-hero); nevertheless s/he must command involvement on the part of the reader, or better yet, empathy.
  • Antagonist – The antagonist is the character(s) (or situation) that represents the opposition against which the protagonist must contend. In other words, the antagonist is an obstacle that the protagonist must overcome.

    Helpful video: Characterization (Links to an external site.)



It is a literary device used for expressing a resistance the protagonist of the story finds in achieving his aims or dreams. The conflict is a discord that can have external aggressors or can even arise from within the self. It can occur when the subject is battling his inner discord, at odds with his surroundings or it may be pitted against others in the story.

Person Vs. Self

Also known as internal conflict, person vs. self focuses on a character wrestling with a major decision. According to English teacher Lisa Thibodeaux, internal conflicts can involve an emotional decision, such as who to pursue a relationship with, an intellectual choice, such as choosing to believe or reject a truth a character was raised with or a moral dilemma, which requires a character to choose whether or not to compromise his ethical standards. In William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” Hamlet struggles with when and how to carry out his father’s ghost’s order to kill his uncle, who has married Hamlet’s mother and usurped his father’s position as king.

Person Vs. Person

Person vs. person is the classic showdown between the protagonist, the main character of the story, and the antagonist, the character who tries to bring about his downfall. Throughout the story, the two characters attempt to outsmart, outdo and outfox each other, resulting in momentary victories for them both. By the conclusion, though, one must emerge from the battle as the winner. This external conflict is seen in the “Harry Potter” books, as Harry engages in an ongoing battle against Lord Voldemort, who has sworn to kill him because of a prophecy that he will lead to Voldemort’s downfall.

Person Vs. Nature

Person vs. nature finds the story’s characters in a struggle against their external environment. This can involve adverse weather events like floods or blizzards, supernatural phenomena, disease outbreaks or isolated locations like deserted islands or remote mountains. Throughout the story, the characters are often fighting for their lives against these conditions, and the survivors typically experience drastic changes in their views of life. For example, Jack London’s short story “To Build a Fire” chronicles the exploits of an unnamed narrator and his dog as they travel the wilderness of the Yukon Trail.

Person Vs. Society

From Sophocles’ “Antigone” to Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged,” literature is full of characters who stand up for their convictions by publicly taking a stand against external social forces. In person vs. society conflict, the protagonist is at odds with a particular ideology or group. Willing to advocate what’s right rather than what’s popular, he often must suffer consequences from his position as he works to change the status quo. In the play “12 Angry Men,” Juror Eight chooses to be the sole person to advocate a not guilty verdict in a murder trial, and faces the task of changing his 11 opponents’ minds.

Helpful video: Conflict (Links to an external site.)



The literary device foreshadowing refers to the use of indicative word or phrases and hints that set the stage for a story to unfold and give the reader a hint of something that is going to happen without revealing the story or spoiling the suspense. Foreshadowing is used to suggest an upcoming outcome to the story.


“He had no idea of the disastrous chain of events to follow”. In this sentence, while the protagonist is clueless of further developments, the reader learns that something disastrous and problematic is about to happen to/for him.
Helpful video: Foreshadowing (Links to an external site.)



In literature, one of the strongest devices is imagery wherein the author uses words and phrases to create “mental images” for the reader. Imagery helps the reader to visualize more realistically the author’s writings. The usage of metaphors, allusions, descriptive words and similes amongst other literary forms in order to “tickle” and awaken the readers’ sensory perceptions is referred to as imagery. Imagery is not limited to only visual sensations, but also refers to igniting kinesthetic, olfactory, tactile, gustatory, thermal and auditory sensations as well.


The gushing brook stole its way down the lush green mountains, dotted with tiny flowers in a riot of colors and trees coming alive with gaily chirping birds.



The use of irony in literature refers to playing around with words such that the meaning implied by a sentence or word is actually different from the literal meaning. Often irony is used to suggest the stark contrast of the literal meaning being put forth. The deeper, real layer of significance is revealed not by the words themselves but the situation and the context in which they are placed.


Writing a sentence such as, “Oh! What fine luck I have!”. The sentence on the surface conveys that the speaker is happy with their luck but actually what they mean is that they are extremely unhappy and dissatisfied with their (bad) luck.
Helpful video: Irony (Links to an external site.)



Metaphors are one of the most extensively used literary devices. A metaphor refers to a meaning or identity ascribed to one subject by way of another. In a metaphor, one subject is implied to be another so as to draw a comparison between their similarities and shared traits. The first subject, which is the focus of the sentences is usually compared to the second subject, which is used to convey a degree of meaning that is used to characterize the first. The purpose of using a metaphor is to take an identity or concept that we understand clearly (second subject) and use it to better understand the lesser known element (the first subject).


“Henry was a lion on the battlefield”. This sentence suggests that Henry fought so valiantly and bravely that he embodied all the personality traits we attribute to the ferocious animal. This sentence implies immediately that Henry was courageous and fearless, much like the King of the Jungle.



The plot usually refers to the sequence of events and happenings that make up a story. There is usually a pattern, unintended or intentional, that threads the plot together. The plot basically refers to the main outcome and order of the story.

Stage 1 – Exposition

  • Exposition is at the base of the mountain or the beginning of the story. This is where the author sets up the story including characters, setting, and main conflicts.

Stage 2 – Rising Action

  • The Rising Action occurs as you begin to move throughout the story. This is where conflicts start to build just like when you climb a mountain you are moving further along.

Stage 3 – Climax

  • The Climax is the turning point of the story. You have reached the top of the mountain and you cannot go any further, you have to turn and go down. This point in the story is when things finally start to move in a different direction and it may not always be a positive direction.

Stage 4 – Falling Action

  • Falling Action occurs after the climax as things start to work themselves out in the story. You are coming down the mountain just as you are coming down from the excitement of the climax.

Stage 5 – Resolution

  • The Resolution is the solution to the problem as you have reached the bottom of the mountain. The solution might not be what you want, but the conflict has been resolved.

    Helpful video: Plot (Links to an external site.)

Point of View


Point of view is the manner in which a story is narrated or depicted and who it is that tells the story. Simply put, the point of view determines the angle and perception of the story unfolding, and thus influences the tone in which the story takes place. The point of view is instrumental in manipulating the reader’s understanding of the narrative. In a way, the point of view can allow or withhold the reader access into the greater reaches of the story. Two of the most common point of view techniques are the first person, wherein the story is told by the narrator from his or her standpoint and the third person wherein the narrator does not figure in the events of the story and tells the story by referring to all characters and places in the third person with third person pronouns and proper nouns.


In the popular Lord of the Rings book series, the stories are narrated in the third person and all happenings are described from an “outside the story” point of view. Contrastingly, in the popular teen book series, Princess Diaries, the story is told in the first person, by the protagonist herself.

Helpful video: Point of View (Links to an external site.)



In literature, the word ‘setting’ is used to identify and establish the time, place and mood of the events of the story. It basically helps in establishing where and when and under what circumstances the story is taking place.


In the first installment of the Harry Potter series, a large part of the book takes place at the protagonist, Harry’s, aunt’s and uncle’s place, living in the “muggle” (non-magical) world with the “muggle” folks, and Harry is unaware of his magical capabilities and blood. This setting establishes the background that Harry has a non-magical childhood with other “muggle” people and has no clue about his special powers or his parents and is raised much like, actually worse than, regular people, till his 11th birthday.



Similes are one of the most commonly used literary devices; referring to the practice of drawing parallels or comparisons between two unrelated and dissimilar things, people, beings, places and concepts. By using similes a greater degree of meaning and understanding is attached to an otherwise simple sentence. The reader is able to better understand the sentiment the author wishes to convey. Similes are marked by the use of the words ‘as’ or ‘such as’ or ‘like’.


He is like a mouse in front of the teacher.



A symbol is literary device that contains several layers of meaning, often concealed at first sight, and is representative of several other aspects, concepts or traits than those that are visible in the literal translation alone. Symbol is using an object or action that means something more than its literal meaning.


The phrase “a new dawn” does not talk only about the actual beginning of a new day but also signifies a new start, a fresh chance to begin and the end of a previous tiring time.



The theme of any literary work is the base that acts as a foundation for the entire literary piece. The theme links all aspects of the literary work with one another and is basically the main subject. The theme can be an enduring pattern or motif throughout the literary work, occurring in a complex, long winding manner or it can be short and succinct and provide a certain insight into the story.


The main theme in the play Romeo and Juliet was love with smaller themes of sacrifice, tragedy, struggle, hardship, devotion and so on.
Helpful video: Theme (Links to an external site.)



The tone of a literary work is the perspective or attitude that the author adopts with regards to a specific character, place or development. Tone can portray a variety of emotions ranging from solemn, grave, and critical to witty, wry and humorous. Tone helps the reader ascertain the writer’s feelings towards a particular topic and this in turn influences the reader’s understanding of the story.


In her Harry Potter series, author J.K. Rowling has taken an extremely positive, inspiring and uplifting tone towards the idea of love and devotion.

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