An Essay on Literature and Its Importance
Literature has been defined by many in different ways. Writers and books offer a variety of meaning for this usually encountered but often ignored term. Very basic is the etymological meaning from the Latin littera meaning `an individual` written character (which is the “letter”). So as Oxford English Dictionary (1987) defines it, literally literature means `acquaintance with letters’. From this simple meaning, the definition of literature has developed just as its genre also flourished.
Since then, literature comprises of texts of prose, both fiction and non-fiction, drama and poetry. These texts can be oral in many parts of the world and exploration of genres of epic, legend and myth, ballad and the folk tale has been widely practice in different countries. My thought of literature has always been William Shakespeare. Well, truly the man is an icon or an institution in the literary world, and because many playwrights and other advocate of arts have commended him and used his works as basis of their own respective masterpieces.
Having him in mind, one can equate literature as collection of poetry, prose and plays that revolve around a particular topic, decorated with diverse elements to come up with a colorful picture of both worlds – the real and unreal. Shakespeare has left a legacy in a vast collection of literary writings for all ages undoubtedly timeless. Like beauty and truth, literature is a concept that cannot be defined in a single definition. Its variety of genre carries with it a number of definitions. Each reading and literary sample has something to share in terms of form and content, material and style.
The use of language has also developed and the style of writing has gained “innovations” to add a little spice to the audience’s excitement. From these observations, I came up with my own definition of the word literature as a blend of the writer’s opinion, expression and emotions which he or she wanted to convey and share with the audience. Literature is not just a piece of writing but a reflection of the writer and an avenue to exercise one’s freedom of thought and expression. The fairy tale “Little Red Riding Hood” by Charles Perrault has been one of the all time favorites for children.
Its language and style is typical of line “Once upon a time…”. The lines “This good woman had a little red riding hood made for her. It suited the girl so extremely well that everybody called her Little Red Riding Hood” (Perrault 1) is very descriptive, light and clear to be easily understood by its target audience, as to justify the name of the character. Although literary innovation has given a different dimension to Perrault’s original message which is a sort of warning to young girls never to talk to strangers.
The ‘morals’ and intended meaning of the story has been changed especially by those who treated it as something for adult, introducing a sexual representation between the wolf and the young girl. Unlike Perrault’s, Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” may have taken the same writing style but is intended for grown-ups, who experience the same much more difficult, real life challenges as the character. It uses the same straightforward description: “She was young, with a fair, calm face, whose lines bespoke repression and even a certain strength.
” (Chopin 1) Its mood is serious and aims to gain sympathy, yet sets a positive mood of hope after any loss. Kate Braverman’s “Pagan Night” is totally of a different style and approach although it is also about real-life experiences. Unlike the previous stories, its structure elicits critical thinking, without compromising the emotions that is obviously the intent of the piece. Its first line: “Sometimes they called it Forest or Sky. Sometimes they called him River or Wind.
Once, during a week of storms when she could not leave the van at all, not for seven consecutive days, they called him Gray” (Braverman 1) is a figurative approach to description, perhaps a product of the author’s innovation and experimentation. As regards the traditional poetic conventions, Robert Frost’s poems remain loyal to metrical lines and stanzas as well as the rhymes, which are a little absent in “The Colonel’ by Carolyn Forsche. In terms of structure, Frost’s are limited, visibly is the poet’s struggle to confine the thought in few words:
He gives his harness bells a shake To ask if there is some mistake. The only other sound’s the sweep Of easy wind and downy flake. From ‘Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening’ (Frost 1) And both that morning equally lay In leaves no step had trodden black. Oh, I kept the first for another day! Yet knowing how way leads on to way, I doubted if I should ever come back. From ‘The Road Not Taken’ (Frost 1) While an obvious attempt to secede from traditions is the prose poem, also a controversial poetic form.
‘The Colonel’ is a good example of this genre which utilizes beauty of figurative language and tone in a structure that doesn’t have the usual line cutting or stanzas. This prose poem foregoes of the usual requirement for poetic form but does have the other poetic elements like symbolism found in a normal poem. These lines for example, is a description of the interior of the house, poetic but free flowing. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English. Broken bottles
were embedded in the walls around the house to scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace. On the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. From ‘The Colonel’ (Frosche, 1) Being connected to literature is a unique process where a writer can explore different writing conventions, play with words, appeals to the emotions, without committing an error. Literature is important because its figurative language gives color to the world. It is an avenue to let out the unspeakable emotions of a person, may he take the position of the writer or the audience.
This knowledge learned from the pieces discussed and having that personal view, this concept about literature will enable me to explore more on my own ideas and provide enjoyable reading for a wider scope of readers in this world. Literature is not only about Shakespeare. It is about peculiar contributions unique to every author, regardless of form, approach or structure, as long as it serves the purpose of its writing. The richness of language must be utilized to the best that it can give which is what I want, and perhaps every student of literature may want to do.
On the other hand, reading is pleasure, more pleasurable if it teaches. This is achieved by getting acquainted with literature. Works Cited Frost, Robert. Stopping by the woods on a snowy evening. (2010) from famous poets and poems. com 30 April 2010: <http://www. famouspoetsandpoems. com/poets/robert_frost/poems>. “Literature. ” Oxford English Dictionary 2nd Edition. 1987. 30 April 2010. <http://dictionary. oed. com/cgi/entry/50134150? single=1&query_type=word&queryword =literature&first=1&max_to_show=10> Logan, William. Carolyn Forche’s “The Colonel”.
21 September 2007. Poetry of the Week. com 30 April 2010 from http://www. poemoftheweek. org/id93. html Willhite, Jennifer M. Kate Chopin’s “The Story of an Hour” A Brief Summary and Analysis of 1894 Short Story (25 November 2008), American Fiction Website, 30 April 2010 from <http://americanfiction. suite101. com/article. cfm/kate_chopins_the_story_of_an_hour#ix zz0ma2V5QdVsuite101. com>. Wood, M. E. Kate Braverman – Author Interview (2010) from bellaonline. com 30 April 2010: <http://www. bellaonline. com/articles/art40060. aspSample Essay of Edusson.com