When we hear world literature it reminds us of stories, epics, sacred scriptures and classical works of ancient and modern times. Basically, literature is defined as the collection of written work of language through different periods and different cultures by authors and scholars. The advent of writing marked a great step in human civilization for many reasons such as transmitting knowledge, ideas, events and even feelings. There are many limitations on the extent of a man’s lifetime experience such as time, geography and point of view. Literature serves as a method of transcending such barriers. When we read the historic work of the Greek poet Homer who was the author of the ancient Greek epic Poems, the Iliad and the Odyssey, we get to know about many things such as the socioeconomic and cultural background of the ancient places such as Troy, Ithaca and Sparta etc. Thus Literature helps us transcend time and social barriers.
Through observing the works of literature the audience can get an insight into human beings and society because, works of literature convey emotions, experiences and psychological explanations of human behaviours. It is hard to imagine how Anne Frank and her family hid from the Nazi soldiers. Ann Frank’s Diary reveals much information about the harsh experiences that she and her family went through during their stay in the Netherlands in Anne’s father’s office building. Also when we read Ann Frank’s Diary we get to know her dreams and aspirations even though she died at a very young age (15) at the Bergen Belsen concentration camp in Germany in March 1945. When we focus on the human conscience we can never forget William Shakespeare’s great tragedy, Macbeth. The play gives us a psychoanalytical explanation of the main character Macbeth who is driven and deceived by the over-ambition.
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Through Literary techniques like soliloquies and asides, Shakespeare shows how Macbeth is ambitious to get the kingship. Before Macbeth assassinates King Duncan he sees an air drawn dagger which is created by his own imagination. “Is this a dagger which I see before me, the handle toward my hand?”(Macbeth, 2.1) Macbeth vacillates to take a decision and it confuses him to see hallucinations. Thus Shakespeare uses the power of language and Literature to manifest the inner conflict of his tragic hero so creatively. Thus Literature serves to refine and make our sensibilities more acute. It teaches us to listen carefully and look deeply attempting to understand more than the meaning that we see from the surface.
Literature plays an important role in religions too. The Koran and the Bible helped to propagate their religions and to preserve some of the teachings without further corruption Mahabharata and Ramayana are great works of literature as they are sacred to the people. Thus literature preserves the Values and ideals of the people. Books like Tripitaka were written during the worst draughts for the purpose of preserving Buddhism and Buddhist concepts. Literature can bring out the importance of preservation. In G.M Hopkins’s poem Binsy poplars he speaks of the importance of preserving nature so the next generations also will be able to see the beauty of nature. “After -comers cannot see the beauty been” (line 19) Also the poem portrays the beauty of the poplar trees that had been dandling before they were cut off from the earth.
Literature influences people. When they begin to read poems thus they understand the beauty of nature and help to preserve it. Also, it provides mankind with a form of immortality. As it says in Shakespeare’s famous sonnet 18 shall compare thee to a summer’s day? He brings out this theme of immortalization through the works of poetry and art. “As long as men can breathe or eyes can see so long lives this and this gives life to thee” (line 16) Even today we speak about Shakespeare, John Donne, Keats, Blake etc. because they are immortal as long as people live in this earth. They are immortal because their themes and artworks are universal. It is true the fact that languages are the building blocks of literature. But the study of literature cannot be restricted to only Studying languages. In fact, Literature does not have a particular language. The language of literature is universal.
There were some writers who wrote specially to gain some social change such as Charles Dickens. Dickens saw the ramifications of the industrial revolution and he wrote stories through his rich imagination and experience. William Blake also was a poet who manifested political themes. His poems Landon, The chimney Sweeper brings out the oppressive social sources and the moral degradation of human beings and the corruption of institutions also the spread of venereal diseases. Some poets use the technique of satire to convince people that they are being misled by the government and other institutions. W.H Auden in his poem The Unknown Citizen brings out this theme. “Was he free? Was he happy? The question is absurd, had anything been wrong we should have certainly heard”. (Lines 27, 28). Thus Ann Ranasinghe in her poem Secretariat brings out the inefficiencies of bureaucracy.
Thus by reading literary works people can acquire knowledge and wisdom also allows people to look at things in a critical and multidimensional way. As the American poet Robert Frost says “The poem begins with delight and ends in wisdom”. It is through reading such great literary and poetic works, that one understands life. They help a person to take a closer look at the different facts of life. In many ways, it can change one’s perspective towards life. Therefore literature is rather important in our lives. It does help us to cope with society. Literature brings us face to face with the essential human conditioning all its sublimity and all its degradation: All its powers and abilities as well as all its limitations. Emotions like love, forgiveness, generosity, etc and anger, malice, hatred etc. are conveyed through literary works. This shows that literature touches a wide range of human emotions.
- William Blake, http://www.h4x3d.com/london-by-william-blake/ London by William Blake March31
- Importance of literature http://www.buzzle.com/articles/importance-of-literature.html,The importance of literature by
- By Manali Oak Published: 3/7/2009.
- Wikipedia.org Anne Frank http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ann_Frank
- Frank ,Anne;Massotty,Susan(translation);Frank,ottoH.&Pressler,Mirjam(editors)(1995).The Diary of a young girl-The Definitive Edition.Doubleday,1SBN0-553-29698-1.(This edition, a new translation,includes material excluded from earlier edition)
- Religious Scripts: Oberlies (p. 158) based on ‘cumulative evidence’ sets a wide range of 1700-1100. The EIEC (s.v. Indo-Iranian languages, p. 306) gives 1500-1000. It is certain that the hymns post-date Indo-Iranian separation of ca. 2000 BC and probably that of the Indo-Aryan Mitanni documents of c. 1400
- G.M Hopkins – http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/victorian_poetry/v044/44.2nixon.html
- DOI: 10.1353/vp.2006.0023
- Macbethhttp://proxy.library.ndsu.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=aph&AN=19778971&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Raritan; Winter2006, Vol. 25 Issue 3, p13-29, 17p
- The Secretariat -Sunday observer http://www.sundayobserver.lk/2005/08/21/mag05.html
- Robert Frost – quotes http://www.quotedb.com/quotes?711