Functions Of Literature

What are the functions of literature?

Expert Answers
missy575 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

TRANSMISSION OF CULTURE: While a history textbook or transcripts of court trials, or newspapers can tell us the facts and events of a society, nothing can share the feelings or beliefs like literature does. In literature we see the struggles and triumphs of various societies in addition to how people responded to them. People's morals and values are often portrayed through literature.

ART OF COMMUNICATION: Some people express themselves well visually, others verbally, and yet others with the written word that has had opportunities for editing and several drafts.

SCIENCE OF COMMUNICATION: Often, an author will have a significant feeling on an issue that they wish to communicate. To persuade people to think or feel similarly, they might entertain, use reverse psychology (like a dystopia), or blatantly describe the issue with many literary devices.

A word on literary devices: For everyone, there are different comparisons or hyperboles that speak to us. An author of a literary piece can use many to convey their point.

Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I would broaden the discussion a bit in discussing the function of literature.  I believe it was Tolstoy who posed the issue of science's purpose as being meaningless because it could not answer the fundamental questions: "Who are we and what shall we do."  Literature can be seen as something that must answer these fundamental questions of who human beings are and what must be done.  In the examples of literature, great literature, there is an attempt to answer such questions.  One of the primary purposes of literature is to examine how these questions have been answered or addressed by authors and their protagonists.  In some instances, there have been direct answers given.  In other instances, there have been examples given how not to progress in both questions, and our role, as readers, has been to understand that what was done in the literature is what should not be done.

prexoxh | Student

form of pleasure/entertainment

form of escape/therapy/stress reliever

provides aesthetic satisfaction

allows us to overcome our own subjectivity

poonamvalera | Student

Poetry is out and out a product of imagination, while prose is the fruit of intellect. The earlier from of poetry is the epic. In Italian, Greek, German, English or Indian epic we can find a clear reflection of the ancient social history of the countries. mark closely the contents of the Beowulf, the Illiad, the Odyssey, the Ramayana andMahabharata, and you will find in them a picture of the ancient life and society of the countries concerned. Even in the much later epics of England, Germany or India, you can find a similar picture of ways of life of the peoples or more recent times of those countries. Of course, poetry has more of the element of imagination than of reality, and therefore, it is not likely to be as much a faithful mirror of society as prose, or even as the drama.


hansu | Student

To introduse students to new words.