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Richards Four kind of meaning

Ivor Armstrong Richards, together with Eliot, is the most influential critic in the
twentieth century Anglo-American criticism. Among the moderns he is the only critic who
has formulated a systematic and complete theory of the literary art. In the words of George
Watson, Richards' claim to have pioneered Anglo-American New Criticism of the thirties
and forties is unassailable. He provided the theoretical foundations on which the technique of
verbal analysis was built. Richards and T.S. Eliot are considered pioneers in the field of new
criticism. Richards is often compared with Coleridge. Like Coleridge he is am of wide
learning. He is widely read not only in literature, but also in philosophy, psychology, aesthetic
, the fine arts and the broad principles of the various sciences.
I.A. Richards reputation as a critic lies on a limited number of critical books he wrote. The
relevance of psychology to literary studies emerges clearly in his first book, The Foundations
of Aesthetics (1922), written in collaboration with his two friends. In this book the authors
have tried to define 'beauty' by studying its effects on the readers. His second book, The
Meaning of Meaning (1923) was written with Ogden; it distinguished between the symbolic
use of language in science and its emotive use in poetry. In The Principles of Literary
Criticism (1924), Richards alone explains his psychological theory of value and explores the
emotive language of poetry. The work is a landmark in the history of literary criticism and
even since verbal and textual analysis, interpretation and evaluation of the basis of literary
appreciation. Therefore I.A. Richards and T.S. Eliot are called the founding father of New
A study of Richards's a staunch advocate of a close textual Practical Criticism; A Study of
Literary Judgment reveals that Richards is a staunch advocate of a close textual and verbal
study and analysis of a work of art. Similar interest in the study of words is revealed in his
book, Meaning of Meaning. Total meaning of a poem is combination of several contributory
meanings of four different types
1. Sense, 2. Feeling, 3. Tone, and 4. Intention.
Sense means plain literal meaning. Words which communicate something which gives plain
literary menacing without communication any hidden or under layer meaning.
Feeling refers to emotions emotional attitudes, will, desire, pleasure, unpleasure, and the rest.
When we say something, we have feeling about it, An attitude towards it some special
direction bias or accentuation of interest it, some personal flavour or colouring of feeling.
Words express these feelings and these nuances of interest.
By tone is meant the writers attitude to his reader. The write chooses his words and arranges
them keeping in mind the kind of readers likely to read his work. There is a relation between
the writer and his reader and the tone reflects the awareness of this relation.

Feeling is only a stat of the mind. It does not imply an object. But intention has an
object. Intention is the writers aim which may be conscious or unconscious. It refers to the
effect one tries to produce. This purpose modifies the expression. It controls the emphasis
shapes the arrangement to draws attention to something of importance
According to Richards Originally language may have been almost pure emotion that
is to say
1. A means of expression feelings about situation.
2. A means of expressing impersonal attitudes
3. A means of bringing about concerted action.
The context
Words also acquire a rich associative value through their use by different poets in
different contexts. The context in which a word has been used is all important. "Words have
different meanings in different contexts. Words are symbols or signs and they deliver their
full meaning only in a particular context. They work in association and within a particular
context. He writes: "A context is a set of entities (things or events) related in a certain way;
these entities have each a character;
Meaning is dependent on context, but the context may not always be apparent and
easily perceptible. Literary compositions are characterized by rich complexity in which
certain links are suppressed for concentration or effective and forceful expression. Frequent
mention is therefore made of the 'missing context' and 'ambiguity.' In ordinary blemishes in
writing, but in poetry or even in artistic prose they are a source of embellishment and a means
of effective communication of meaning. The literary critic is expected to understand and
expand the context so that the poem may become intelligible and its full value may be

Relation between Sense and Feeling

Words have different meanings in different contexts. Sense and feeling have a mutual
dependence. "The sound of a word has much to do with the feeling it evokes."

1. First, it may arise from the meaning and be governed by it. The feeling is the result of
grasping the meaning
2. Secondly, the meaning arises from the feeling evoked. Thus the word 'gorgeous' first
generates a feeling from its sound.
3. Thirdly, sense and feeling may be related because of the context. A complete poem
can influence a single word or phrase contained in it either through the feelings or
through the sense. The feelings already occupying the mind limit the possibilities of
the new words. This is because words are ambiguous in themselves and they acquire
new meanings when they are charged with feelings.

Hence Richards argues that we need one careful reading to find the meaning and another to
grasp the feeling.

Rhythm and Metre

The meaning of words is also determined by rhythm and metre. Rhythm results from the
repetition of particular sounds and the expectancy this repetition arouses in the mind. Metre is
a specialised form of rhythm. It is rhythm made more regular and cast into set and wellformed pattern. Both rhythm and metre are organic and integral parts of a poem, for they both
determine the meaning of the words used by the poets. Richards' remarks in this connection
are interesting and deserve to be quoted in their entirety
Rhythm, metre and meaning cannot be separated; they form together a single system. They
are not separate entities but organically related. Therefore, a paraphrase or an over literal
reading can never convey the total meaning of a poem.
Successive readings are necessary to understand the poetic meaning. Poetic truth is
different from scientific truth. It is a matter of emotional belief rather than intellectual belief.
It is not a matter of versification, but of attitude and emotional reaction.
For the purpose of communication, the use of metaphoric language is all important.
"A metaphor is a shift, a carrying over of a word from its normal use to a new use".
Metaphors may be of two kinds : (I) sense-metaphors, and (2) emotive-metaphors. In a sensemetaphor the shift is due to a similarity or analogy between the original object and the new
one. In an emotive metaphor the shift is due to a similarity between the feelings the new
situation and the normal situation arouse. The same word in different contexts may be a
sense-metaphor or an emotive one.
I. A. Richards stresses on close textual and verbal study of a poem. His study of words as
means of communication and his stress on their four-fold meaning and on the way in which
meaning is determined by rhythm and meter are original and striking gone a long way
towards shaping the course of literary criticism in the 20th century. His critical methods,
verbal and structural analysis, interpretation and evaluation a work of arts started the trend of
experimentation and analysis in literary criticism.