How does literature make man wiser?

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carol-davis eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Literature might be defined as a work of superior and lasting artistic merit.  Often, to study literature would be to look a particular genre or writings on a subject.  There are many reasons to study literature to advance an individual’s knowledge.

Literature - writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas and concerns of universal and apparently permanent interest, are essential features.


Literature contains knowledge about mankind---philosophies, beliefs, self-perception---These lessons about life are best expressed artfully in rich writing.

Literature allows the reader to learn about other cultures and different beliefs.  Religion, history, art---To read about other ethnicities and cultures creates a bond and expands understanding between people with different backgrounds and religions.  This may improve communication and make it more meaningful. 


Literature can open the mind to understand the individual man. Within our own culture, the reader can find a variety of attitudes and experiences.  From the Puritans to McCarthyism---literature exposes the personalities, hatreds, bigotries, backgrounds of those people who live outside the realm of “normalcy” and their search for their place in the world.


Literature provides the reader with opportunity to increase his vocabulary. In addition, a primary way to improve writing skills is to read literature which is considered great writing.  A great writer will enhance the reader’s mind by employing language and vocabulary that increases his knowledge.


It is necessary to exercise our brains.  If everything were easy, then there would be nothing challenging.  Our minds would become stagnant.  Great literature has hidden meanings that the reader must flesh out for himself.  The study of literature in the classroom builds the skills which will enable the reader to figure the meanings for himself. Being able to recognize the literary devices that a great writer employs becomes a mind exercise.

Learn how to question and disagree based on logic and reasoning.  To win an argument, a person must be able to quote sources and give quotations to prove his point. He must be able to decipher the literature and select that information which supports his belief. 


It furthers our mastery of language. Our literature is the single most important tool of leadership and the great leaders embrace its study.   Every great president loves literature and becomes a writer himself. Look at Abraham Lincoln who learned everything that he knew from books and literature.  Without that love of reading, how could he have been president?


The reader can learn the contribution literature has made to history. The pen is mightier than the sword. When a country suffers a civil war, the new government often gets rid of those who are educated and well read---teachers, historians, writers---these are the people who influence and change the ideology. In American history, see the many examples of literature like Thomas Paine's and Thomas Jefferson's contributions to the American Revolution.

There are many other aspects of literature that have not been mentioned which offer the reader the opportunity to expand his knowledge.