You are on page 1of 4


CONCEPT OF LITERATURE Refers to ethical and moral story which mostly involves animal
What is Literature?

i. In a broader aspect, These stories considered as group, for example a story book
which is called Kalulu The Hare by Frank Worthington shows
Literature can be defined as any written or spoken material. different of stories of Hare and other animals.
ii. In a narrow sense,
Literature is a writing which expresses and communicates Themes in fables are often directly stated.
thought, feelings and attitudes towards life.
o Myth
iii. In Most often,
Literature refers to creative works in the form of FICTION, Stories that believed to be sacred which mostly involve
(Poetry, Prose and Drama) i.e. It excludes non-fictional works supernatural characters, for example, the Sukuma tribal story of
commonly regarded as part of literature. ogre Shingwengwe

iv. However, simply,
A myth is a traditional story of anonymous origin.
Literature is a work of art which uses words or language to
Many myths are about the creation of earth; others are about
convey the intended information to an audience or a reader.
love, adventure, trickery, or revenge.
For instance, novel, poetry, drama, broadcast compositions
In many myths, human action is controlled or guided by gods,
such as films and television programs are also included in
goddesses, and other supernatural beings.

The author or writer uses the words artistically to create a story

o Legend
which reflect social realities (political, social, economic and
cultural issues within the society) to the reader or audience. Stories which believed to be based on real people and events, and
TYPES OF LITERATURE also believed to have some historical basis and true and, mostly
involve heroic human character
A. In terms of MODE of presentation (forms of literature)

i. Oral literature (sometimes is called Orature) Sayings

In its broad sense, Words or statements which believed to be true and wise
The term literature may include ritual texts, curative chants,
epic poems, musical genres, folk tales, creation tales, songs, A well known phrases or sentences that give advice or say
myths, spells, legends, proverbs, riddles, tongue-twisters, something that is generally true, and sometimes have hidden
word games, recitations, life histories or historical narratives. meaning

In Most simply,
ii. Written literature
Refers to any form of verbal art which is transmitted orally or
delivered by word of mouth. Refers to any form of non-verbal art which is transmitted
through written materials such as books, documents, papers,
Example of some oral literature; animal skin, papyrus, terracotta, board etc.

Folktale B. In terms of REALITY

An anonymous traditional story passed down orally long before Literature can either be Fiction or Non fiction
being written down. Folktales include animal stories, trickster
stories, fairy tales, myths, legends, and tall tales.
i. Fiction
Elements of a folktale include folk beliefs, a past or faraway
setting, flat characters, and predictable endings A type of literature that describes imaginary people and
events, not real ones
o Fable
Hence, fictional literature may include genre such as; drama,
prose and poetry. For example, a novel called Un Answered

Literature Series Prepared by Wapalila, Alex A

Cries by portray story which is not real, however, it reflects Refers to the central or main idea in a story, for example,
most of African societies which practise genital mutilation in poverty, role of women, conflict are some of the themes which
reality, and Sierra Leon, Temne tribe as an example. can be found in a particular work of literature.

ii. Non Fiction iv. Point of view

A type of literature that describes about real facts, people and Refers to the position of a narrator in telling a story within a
events, work of literature,

For example, a poem called We will call no Christmas The relationship of the narrator to the story, most writing is
ceasefire by Kajubi portray real event which happened on written from the first-person, third person objective, third-person
the eve of Christmas 1975, the MPLA of Angola announced limited, or third - person omniscient point of view
that it was not going to call a ceasefire for Christmas in the
struggle against UNITA and FNLA. first-person narrative

ELEMENTS OF LITERATURE A story is portrayed by a narrator who is also a character

within a story. For example, the use of I, we, mine,
These simply refer to basic features which make literature; our, me, us and ours
generally refer to the things that make up a work of literature
and its component parts. third-person objective narrative

i. Character(s) (actor or actress in film) A story is portrayed by a narrator who is not one of the
characters in a story but he or she expresses only about all
Refers to a person or an object or an animal portrayed in a book,
play or film actions done by the characters in the story and not their
feelings or thoughts.
a) Main Character; vital or important character to the
development of the story. A good example of main third-person limited
character is Remi from a play called The Black Hermit by
Ngugi Wa Thiongo. A story is portrayed by a narrator who is not one of the
characters in the story but he or she expresses about all
b) Minor Character; a character who serves to complement actions done by characters and she or he has a permission to
major character in the story. A good example of minor express feelings and thoughts of only one character in the
character is Stranger from a play namely This Time
Tomorrow by Ngugi Wa Thiongo
v. third - person omniscient narrative
Main or Minor Characters can be described as;
A story is portrayed by a narrator who is not one of the
c) Flat / Static character; a character who does not undergo characters in the story but he or she expresses every action
substantial change or growth, for example, Abessolo in done by the characters in the story as well as all their
the play namely Three Suitors One Husband by O. Mbia feelings and thoughts. He knows everything about all
character. (All knowing)
d) Dynamic Character; a character who changes during the
course of a story vi. Plot
e) Round character; a well-developed character who It is an arrangement of events in a series of events (sequence)
demonstrates varied and sometimes contradictory traits from the beginning of a particular story up to the end.

ii. Setting Series of events can be in stages as follows;

Refers to a place where an events or a story take place. Setting The beginning
is built by elements such as;
Starting of issues that led to the development of a conflict;
Place; Morogoro, School The plot begins with the exposition, or the introduction of the
characters, the setting, and the conflict.
Time; Night, Morning
The climax
Weather; Cold, winter
The highest point of conflict;
Historical period; past, present and
The rising action adds complications to the conflict, leading to
Cultural milieu; Urban, diverse, USA the climax, or emotional high point.

iii. Theme Resolution

Literature Series Prepared by Wapalila, Alex A

Solving or ending of a conflict; dab technique and sculpturing art employs the techniques of
The climax gives way rapidly to its logical result in the falling carving, modelling, casting, gluing and welding, nailing or
action, and finally to the resolution, or dnouement, in which
the final outcome is revealed. IMPORTANCE OF LITERATURE
For example, Monica and her fellow students waited for a town Importance of Literature (in its positive sense) to the readers
bus to take them to their school (the Beginning). When the bus
or the audiences
came conductor refused to take her and her fellows (Rising
actions/complications). She tried to inter in the bus by force but
A. It entertains an audience or a reader because it makes
conductor punched her face. Other students saw and decided to
people enjoy, relax and getting pleasure through various
hit the conductor severely until the conductor lost his
literary devices such as; poetic devices, jokes, comedy and
consciousness (Climax). Students run away fast from the
some interesting stories.
incidents area and left the bus driver without a trace (Falling
actions). The bus driver took his conductor to the nearby hospital
B. It serves as guiding principles of life towards a reader or
for treatment (Resolution).
an audience. A good example is a poem called Saluting
ujamaa by Kundi Faraja; it provides principles of
ujamaa especially those of cooperation, fraternity, self
Refers to the distinctive use of language that helps the reader
reliance, communal ownership of major means of
understand the narrators personality
production, equality etc
Sometimes voice is determined by the authors or narrators
C. Literature serves as an enormous information base for the
word choices (Diction). In other cases, voice is determined by
reader and audience, for example, most of the novels,
tone, an authors attitude toward his or her subject matter or
plays, poetry and films relate stories of human life, their
audience, and mood, the emotional quality of a literary work.
activities and the places in which they live. Hence, they
preserve a lot of information. Thus, literature has always
served as an authentic source of information from all
around the world.

D. On the other hand, literature acts as socializing agent. For

instance, a good book can bring the readers or audience
together with their friends when they talk about their
common experience of being read the same book or
watching the same film or Television programs with a
literary basis.
Note: Literature is a work of art; however other works of arts are not E. It educates an audience or a reader towards positive aspect
literature due to the following reasons; of life; hence, through literature people are able to obtain
various knowledge, information and skills relating to
i. Literature primarily use language as its medium of composing a various aspects of life.
story or expressing ideas in novels, drama and poetry, however,
material such as papers, papyrus, animal skins and other flat
How literature educates the audiences or the readers?
surface possible to be written on, while other works of arts such
as; in drawing artist uses pencil, pens, ink, charcoal or pastels;
sculpturing artist uses clay, wax, bronze, carving knife, wood or
metal to make their arts. i. It develops or improves language skills to an audience or a
reader, for example, through reading, listening or watching
ii. Literature can be preserved through oral traditional and other different kinds of literary works, besides an acquisition of vast
written material such as books, documents, papers, animal skin, number of vocabularies, the readers or audience are be able to
papyrus, terracotta, board etc. While other works of arts can be acquire language skills such as; speaking, writing, listening and
stored in other form of storage, for example, painting cannot be reading and becoming competent in a particular language.
stored oral however; it can be stored in cabinet, store room,
shelf, photograph and other place suitable for storing them ii. It promotes / encourages changes towards a reader or an
safely. audience in various aspects of life such as; political, social,
economic and cultural life in terms of reformation, revolution
iii. Elements of literature is unique to other work of art, for and the like.
example, literature is made up with elements such as;
Characters, Themes, Setting, Plot and Point of view which are iii. It motivates / influences a reader or an audience in achieving
different from other works of arts like, painting, sculpturing, positive goals of society in general or individual basis.
drawing, martial arts etc
iv. It helps a reader or an audience to understand different facets of
iv. Literature has mode of presentation which is different from life; therefore, it leads them to see the world (or their life) in
other works of arts, for example, it can be traditional presented different ways. For example, through passing different literary
either by oral or written form, while art such as painting works (stories) the reader or the audience can understand
presented by 2 dimension figures or 3 dimensions perspective different people, places, knowledge, cultures, point of views and
pictures. general perspectives of life.

v. Literature use techniques which are different from other works v. It makes a reader or an audience to be a critical thinker in
of arts to achieve its intended message, for example, it employs analysing and solving different issues of daily life. For example,
techniques such as; language, structure, style, thematization, through passing different literary works the readers or audience
characterization, flashback etc to achieve its message intended would change and develop their thinking pattern and become
to the readers or audiences, while, art such as oil painting use critical thinkers.

Literature Series Prepared by Wapalila, Alex A

encouraged those cultural practices and influenced the
vi. It promotes a particular culture identity to a reader or an readers or audience; a good example is a novel called
audience. Through literature a particular cultural elements will
be portrayed and transmitted to different readers or audiences. Unanswered Cries by Osman Conteh, the characters
like Yaposeh and Makalay encourage the practice of
genital mutilation by saying its importance such as; it
reduces sexual appetite and it signifies that somebody is
Note: These are positive importance of literature to (non-readers or a real woman after undergo genital mutilation.
audiences) the composer and actors.
v. It promotes negative emotions such as anger, hatred,
F. It provides employment or job opportunities to the people within
their societies. For example, people may become employee or self- sadness and other negative feelings to an audience or a
employed as the authors, editors, singers, comedians, actors and reader from the stories which arouse their emotion
analysts of literary works. faculties during their reading or watching literary works.
For example, in the play called This Time Tomorrow
G. It enables people to obtain income through the selling of their
literary works to different people within the societies. by Ngugi Wa Thiongo the readers or audience may
hate their government through reflection of the Kenyan
government within a Play which has destroyed the
However, there is a negative sense of literature towards readers or market area while the low class people of Kenya
the audiences as follows; depended on it for their small business and as their
i. It promotes boredom to an audience or a reader from
the stories which against their perspectives of life. For
example, the romantic novel or film can annoy a reader
or an audience who are against romantic activities as a SAMPLE QUESTIONS
public issue.
1. Literature has many importances towards the societies,
ii. It misleads an audience or a reader from positive to social groups and individual. With reference from the two (2)
negative aspects of life. For instance, by reading or readings you have read. Discuss the validity of this statement.
watching literary work based on malpractices such as
prostitution, banditry and other crime activities could
affect the readers or the audiences in one way or another 2. What are the effects of literary works to the society in
after they have perceived those practices as good ones. generally as well as individual? Support your answer with
A good example is a novel called Unanswered Cries regard of two (2) readings you have done.
by Osman Conteh, the characters like Yaposeh and
Makalay encourage the practice of genital mutilation by 3. With reference from two (2) you have read; discuss the
saying its importance such as; it reduces sexual appetite
function of literature in the societies.
and it signifies that somebody is a real woman after
undergo genital mutilation.
4. The role played by literature within a particular society,
group or individual is said to be positive. Justify the truth of
iii. It destructs language competence to most of the this statement by using two (2) readings you have done.
audiences and the readers after have copied areas of
language competence such as grammatical errors and Answer for question no. 1
wrong pronunciation of a particular language. For
instance, most of the poet violet rule of grammar Literature is a work of art which used words or language to
convey the intended information to an audience or a reader. For
because they are allowed to do so through their poetic
instance, novel, poetry, drama, broadcast compositions such as
licences in their composition of poems, therefore, they films and television programs are also included in literature.
have written poems with grammatical errors so as to suit
the sound patterns in the poem. A good example is Literature is very important to society, group or an individual;
found in a poem namely Wishes of a hero by Isaac this can be shown from the points of discussion which validate
Mruma, in first line a poet write, Were I a hammer, its importance towards a society, a group or an individual. The
following are the points which validate the importance of literary
to achieve musical effect (assonance) by inversing
works from the play namely Three Suitors One Husband
subject and verb, and also he uses were and I written by Oyono Mbia;
instead of was which make a perfect agreement with
I (I were a hammer (not correct) I was a hammer Literature entertains society, group or individual who passing
(correct)). through a particular work of literature. For example, the trick of
stealing dowry played by Juliette towards her father is very
entertained the readers or audiences. She steals 300 francs from
iv. It hinders changes to some angles of life, for example, her father, 200 francs paid by Mbia and 100 francs paid by Ndi
in the aspects of culture, some of the cultural practices as her dowry and give to Oko, the person she loves so as to make
and traditions are based on rigidness and not meant to her way of getting marriage with him, hence, to do so she steals
be changed, and hence, some of the literary works 300 francs so as to make her father fail to pay back100 francs of
Ndi after taking 200 francs from Mbia and also to fail to pay

Literature Series Prepared by Wapalila, Alex A