Reader Response critics reject one of the central tenets of the New Critical school that dominated American literary theory for decades. They claim that the reader’s intellectual and emotional reaction to the work is as ripe for anaylsis as the text itself. The reader’s interpretation of the text is influenced by his or her personal background, and thus reading is not a passive experience of objective reality but an active interaction between reader and author through the medium of the written word. Reader response critics such as Louise Rosenblatt investigate the elements that are involved in this crucial interaction.
If we substitute for a frog a "Mr. Goodwill" or a "Mr. Prudence," and for the scorpion "Mr. Treachery" or "Mr. Two-Face," and make the river any river and substitute for "We're both Arabs . . ." "We're both men . ." we turn the fable [which illustrates human tendencies by using animals as illustrative examples] into an allegory [a narrative in which each character and action has symbolic meaning]. On the other hand, if we turn the frog into a father and the scorpion into a son (boatman and passenger) and we have the son say "We're both sons of God, aren't we?", then we have a parable (if a rather cynical one) about the wickedness of human nature and the sin of parricide. (22)