Literature Definition

The definition of literature, in the broadest sense, is everything that has ever
been written. Anything from the earliest poems of Homer, to todays web pages,
can be considered literature. But for a specific sense, there are various kinds
of literature. Literature can be written in a specific language, like English
Literature or be written by a specific culture, such as African Literature. But
literature really means more than printed words. It is considered a fine art.

The word literature comes from the French phrase belles-lettres, which means
beautiful writing. When a piece of work is called literature, it is
usually considered a great work of art. There are two main classes of
literature: fiction and nonfiction. Fiction is writing that an author creates
from the imagination. Authors may include personal experience, or facts about
real people or events, but they combine these facts with imagined situations.

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Most fiction is narrative writing, such as novels and short stories. Fiction
also includes drama and poetry. Nonfiction is factual writing about real-life
situations. The principal forms of nonfiction include the essay, biography,
autobiography, and diary. People read literature for a variety of reasons. The
most common reason for reading is pleasure. People read to pass the time, or for
information and knowledge. Through literature, people meet characters they can
identify with, and sometimes find solutions for their own problems. With
literature, a person can often understand situations they could not otherwise
understand in real life. Often, just the arrangement of the words can be
enjoyable, just as a child likes the sound of Ring Around the Rosie, even
though they might not understand what the words mean. There are four elements of
literature: characters, plot, theme, and style. A good author has the ability to
balance these elements, creating a unified work of art. The characters make up
the central interest of many dramas and novels, as well as biographies and
autobiographies. A writer must know each character thoroughly and have a clear
idea about each ones look, speech, and thoughts. Motivation is the reason for
characters actions. A good writer will be sure that the motives of a character
are clear and logical. Setting is where a characters story takes place. The
plot is built around a series of events that take place within a definite
period. It is what happens to the characters. No rules exist for the order in
which the events are presented. A unified plot has a beginning, middle, and an
end. In literary terms, a unified plot includes an exposition, a rising action,
a climax, and a denouement, or outcome. The exposition gives the background and
situation of the story. The rising action builds upon the exposition. It creates
suspense, or a reader’s desire to find out what happens next. The climax is the
highest point of interest, also a turning point of a story. The denouement is
the conclusion. The theme is the basic idea expressed by a work of literature.

It develops from the interplay of character and plot. A theme may contain
morals, to warn the reader to lead a better life or a different kind of life. A
serious writer strives to make his work an honest expression of sentiment, or
true emotion. They avoid sentimentality, which means giving too much emphasis to
emotion or pretending to feel an emotion. A writer of honest emotion does not
have to tell the reader what to think about a story. A good story will direct
the reader to the author’s conclusion. Style is the way a writer uses words to
create literature. It is difficult to enjoy a story’s characters or plot without
enjoying the author’s style. The style of an author is as important as what he
is trying to say. Point of view, or the way a story is presented, is another
part of style. A writer may tell a story in the first person, using the pronoun
I, as though the narrator were a major or minor character in it. Or, the writer
may use the third person method, in which the narrator stands apart from the
characters and describes the action using such pronouns as he and she. There are
two types of third person views: limited and omniscient. In the third person
limited point of view, the narrator describes the events as seen by a single
character. In the third person omniscient, or all knowing, point of view, the
narrator reports on what several characters are thinking and feeling. Reading is
an intently personal art. There are no final rules for judging a piece of
writing. Often, peoples judgment of a work can change as taste and fashion
change. Yet the classics continue to challenge readers imaginations and give
ageless advice. Shakespeare will most likely be as popular a hundred years from
now as he is today. That is power of literature. Literature is timeless.

English Essays


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