At present, not all written works can be considered literature. To understand a good literary work, we should know first the important elements of literature. It is undeniable that the medium of literature is language, and language is composed of words that are combined into sentences to express ideas, emotions or desires. Writers, therefore, should be careful in their choice of words and expressions of their emotions and ideas in order to carefully organize sentences that would manifest a high sense of value. In other words, a writer should bear these objectives in mind: 1. To strive in raising the level of the reader’s humanity and 2. To accomplish the purpose of making one better person, giving him a high sense of value. The important elements of literature are:
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1. Emotional appeal
2. Intellectual appeal
3. Humanistic value
Emotional appeal is attained when the reader is emotionally moved or touched by any literary work like: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
Elizabeth B. Browning
How Do I Love Thee?
Rizal’s two revolutionary novels, the Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo, are good illustrations of literature of intellectual appeal. Both add knowledge or information and remind the reader of what he has forgotten. Specially, in one of his philosophical ideas “on consecration to a great idea,” he said: “Don’t you realize that it is a useless life which is not consecrated to a great idea? It is a stone wasted in the fields without becoming part of any edifice.” (Simoun to Basilio) Humanistic value can be attained when a literary work makes the reader an improved person with a better outlook in life and with a clear understanding of his/her inner self. To illustrate, here is a stanza from Amado V. Hernandez’s poem entitled “Foreigner,” which was translated by Cirilio F. Bautista into English.
Finds faults with things that are native- customs and living, food and dress- were it not for his brown skin you’d
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think he was foreign and born somewhere else. Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” is a very good example of a literary work which has a humanistic value. It shows that woman’s vanity changes the normality of life, but at the same time, the change is to the advantage of the individual for it leads to self-understanding ad a clearer outlook in life. What would have happened if she had never lost those jewels? Who knows? Who knows?
How strange life is, how fickle! How little is needed to ruin or to save! The above-mentioned important elements of literature are embodied in the Holy Bible, as the Gospel of St. John 3:6 states; For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. Classification of Literature
Perrine stated that literature can be classified as escape and interpretative literature. Escape literature – is written for entertainment purposes, that is, to help us pass the time in an agreeable manner. It takes us away from the real world and enables us to temporarily forget our troubles and has for its object only pleasure. Interpretative literature is written to broaden and sharpen our awareness in life. It takes us, through imagination, deeper into the real world and enables us to understand our troubles. It has for its object- pleasure plus understanding. Uses of Literature
1. Moralizing literature – here, the purpose of literature is to present moral values for the reader to understand and appreciate; the moral may be directly or indirectly stated. The Monkey’s Point of View
Three monkeys sat on a coconut tree
Discussing things as they said to be
Said one to the others, now listen, you two,
There’s a certain rumor that can’t be true
That man descended from our noble race
The very idea! It’s desire disgrace!
No monkey ever deserted his wife,
Starved his children and ruined their lives.
And you’ve never known a mother monk
To leave her baby with others to bunk
Or pass them on from one to another
Till they hardly know who is their mother
And another thing, you will never see
A monk build a fence round a coconut tree
And let the coconut go to the waste
Forbidding all the monk to the taste.
Starvation would force you to steal from me.
Besides, what monk would smoke a pipe
and burn the trees, pollute his hair and kill himself?
Here’s another thing a monk won’t do
Go out at night and get a stew
Or use his gun or club or knife
To take some other monkey’s life
Yes! Man descended, the ornery cuss,
But brother, he didn’t descend from us!!! – Anonymous
2. Propaganda literature – This kind of literature is found not only in history books and advertising and marketing books but also in some books describing one’s personal success and achievements in life. 3. Psychological continuum of the individual- therapeutic value – It could be looked on as a sophisticated modern elaboration of the idea of catharsis- an emotional relief experienced by the reader there by helping him recover from a previous pent-up emotion. The following are examples of therapeutic poems.
When things go wrong, as they sometimes will
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh When care is pressing you down a bit… Rest if you must but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a person turns about
When they might have won had they stuck it out
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow…
You may succeed with another blow.
Often the struggler has given up
When he might have captured the victor’s cup
And he learned too late when the night came down
How close he was to the golden crown.
Success is failure turned inside out…
The silver tint of the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are
It may be near when it seems afar,
So stick to the fight when you’re hardest hit…
It’s when things seem worst that you mustn’t quit. -Anonymous
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