Content refers to what is written about in a work of literature and style refers the way(s) a work is written.
- Content, in literature, refers to the topics explored in a work. Subject, topic, and content are often interchangeable terms.
For instance, if we talk about the content in Moby Dick, we would focus on whaling (as a topic) and a whale chase (as the major subject of the story).
- Style refers to the mechanical elements of a piece of writing – sentence types (long; short; complex; simple, etc.), word choice and the artistic choices made by the writer.
If we again look at Moby Dick as an example, we would focus on the variety of writing styles used in the book, with some sections being written in Elizabethan/Shakespearean dialogue, some sections written in the style of a non-fiction expository essay, and yet others in the style of naturalistic, plot oriented narrative.
These two discussions, on content and style, come together when we ask the question of how the two work together.
The content and style combination in Moby Dick can be interpreted as an attempt at creating a voluminous work whose breadth and depth mimic the oceanic setting of the story and which reinforces the central theme of dealing with a world that cannot be fully known or fully conquered despite man’s best and most passionate attempts to know and to conquer it.