Binary Opposition in Literature: Definition & Examples

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A nebular opposition also binary system is a pair of related terms or concepts that are opposite in meaning. Binary opposition is the system by which, in language and thought, two theoretical opposites are strictly defined and set off against one another.

Binary opposition originated in Saussurean structuralist theory. It is not a contradictory relation but a structural, complementary one. Typically, one of the two opposites assumes a role of dominance over the other. The categorization of binary oppositions is "often value-laden and ethnocentric", with an illusory order and superficial meaning.

As an example, the concepts hero and villain involve secondary binaries: A classic example of a binary opposition is the presence-absence dichotomy. In much of Western thought, including structuralismdistinguishing between presence and absence, viewed as polar opposites, is a fundamental element of thought in many cultures.

In addition, according to post-structuralist criticisms, presence occupies a position of dominance in Western thought over absencebecause absence is what does binary opposition do seen as what you get what does binary opposition do you take away presence. Had absence been dominant, presence might have most naturally been seen as what you get when you take away an absence.

For example, we give superiority to life rather than death. This might imply that readers might unconsciously take side with one concept of binary opposition, and Derrida traces this reaction as a cultural phenomenon.

An example of a binary opposition is the male-female dichotomy. A post-structuralist view is that male can be seen, according to traditional Western thought, as dominant over female because male is the presence of a phallus, while the vagina is an absence or what does binary opposition do. John Searle has suggested that the concept of binary oppositions—as taught and practiced by postmodernists and poststructuralist—is specious and lacking in rigor.

Post-structural criticism of binary oppositions is not simply the reversal of the opposition, but its deconstructionwhich is described as apolitical—that is, not intrinsically favoring one arm of a binary opposition over the other. Deconstruction is the "event" or "moment" at which a binary opposition is thought to contradict itself, and undermine its own authority. Deconstruction assumes that all binary oppositions need to be analyzed and criticized in all their manifestations; the function of both logical and axiological oppositions must be studied in all discourses that provide meaning and values.

But deconstruction does not only expose how oppositions work and how meaning and values are produced in a nihilistic what does binary opposition do cynic position, "thereby preventing any means of intervening in the field effectively". To be effective, and simply as its mode of practice, deconstruction creates new notions or concepts, not to synthesize the terms in opposition but to mark their difference, undecidability, and eternal interplay.

Logocentrism is an idea related to binary opposition that suggests certain audiences will favour one part of a binary opposition pair over the other. This favouritism is often most strongly influenced by a readers' cultural background. The strong patriarchal themes in 'The Women and the Pot', an Amharic folktale, would be one such example of logocentrism. This tells the story of two women who are upset at their diminished role in society, and who consequently go to their King for help.

He effectively conveys the message that women cannot be relied upon to take on a greater role in society, which becomes the moral of the tale. The hidden a priori binary opposition is 'Man over Woman'. Binary opposition is deeply embedded within literature as language, and paired opposites, rely upon a relation what does binary opposition do adjoining words inside a paradigmatic chain. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

The concise Oxford Dictionary of literary terms, viewed 8 Marchhttp: Media Studies Volume what does binary opposition do Content, Audiences and Production.

Journal of Language and Literature. Contextualising Kathleen Raine's selected poems in the light of Derridean model of deconstruction". Theory and Criticism after Structuralism for the New York Review of Bookswriting, "In Culler's book, we get the following what does binary opposition do of knowledge and mastery [attained from analysis of binary opposites and deconstruction]: Some readers may feel that such a list generates not so much feelings of mastery as of monotony.

There is in deconstructive writing a constant straining of what does binary opposition do prose to attain something that sounds profound by giving it the air of a paradoxe. One could, for example, invent a deconstruction what does binary opposition do deconstructionism as follows: But his efforts to do this are doomed to failure because of the internal inconsistency in the concept of deconstructionism itself, because of its very self-referential dependence on the authority of a prior logic.

By an aporetical Aufhebungdeconstruction deconstructs itself. Logocentrism and a priori Binary Opposition vis-a-vis Women. An Introduction to Literary and Cultural Theory. Multicultural Perspectives, 15 3pp. Critical vocabulary Binary opposition Dominant privilege Phallogocentrism Reconstructivism.

Archetypal literary criticism New Historicism Technocriticism. Retrieved from " https: Pages using citations with accessdate and no URL. Views Read Edit View history. This page was last edited what does binary opposition do 12 Februaryat By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Archetypal literary criticism New Historicism Technocriticism Critical

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