Meaning of literature

The term literature has different meaning but here the term is used in the sense of showing the way a person can make representation of what is taking place in the society artistically.

Thus, as Literature depicts on what people does in their daily lives, then it have some connectedness with human life.

Origin of literature.

Literature is related to man’s development in his life because it portrays on what people do or say, how they act, react or behave towards their environment.

Language and literature

Not only that but also during its presentation to the audience literature use language in conveying the intended message, this makes people grasp the message and adopt changes in their life.

That is to say, literature cannot be separated from man’s life as human being need fascination, enjoyment and education for comfortable and better life.

Therefore, One can define literature as a work of art which use language creatively to represent people’s daily social realities.

OR. Is a product of man’s creation through language in representing his social realities.

Qn.1: How far is literature and language inseparable?


Literature has many types depending on peoples traditions, intentions and the message that is intended to be communicated to the audience.

Basing on its mode of Presentation one can categories literature into two groups being; Oral or Spoken Literature and Written Literature.


Oral Literature is said to be the first form of literature because it began existing when human being started living together as a community with a common language for enhancing their communication.

Thus, with language people composed songs which were influential in their working hours.

As the time went on Oral Literature became a tool for refreshing and entertaining people during and after work, educating as well as shaping the society when the need arises.

Thus, Oral Literature has some connectedness with the human development in shaping and improving his environment.

That is to say, Oral Literature is a type of literature which is represented before the audience through a word of mouth.

OR; Is a type of literature which is represented before the audience in spoken form.

As it has been said that Oral Literature is transmitted through a word of mouth, therefore one cannot deny that Oral Literature began even before the invention of writings.

Currently, Oral Literature exists but it is most vivid in illiterate societies.

NB: By Oral Literature being in illiterate societies it does not mean that it is of no use rather Oral Literature is still beneficial in imparting some quick messages.


a): It is passed through a word of mouth

b): It involves performance like dancing, clapping hands and singing

c): It involves both the performer and audience as both the narrator and listeners come together during the presentation.

d): It takes place in actual setting for instance during evening the folktales can be handed at home after work.

e): It is owned by the whole society as all society members the literate and illiterate individuals have chance to access it.

f): It adopts changes depending on time and place.

g): It is rich in characters because both human being and non-human characters are used in portraying the social realities.

h): It differs from one society or generation to another as it preserved on peoples memory.

i): It is rich in types.

j): It usually takes a moral lesson.


Oral Literature is categories into different forms as it bases on the modes of presentation, performance, setting, the themes portrayed, language used as well as form.

To mention some few categories are as explained below:-

i): Folktale- This is a type of Oral Literature whereby parents narrates stories to their children and they are passed over generations.

ii): Myth- This is a type of Oral Literature which explains on the early history of a group of people, a natural event or a certain fact. For example every society has its myth on the creation of man.

iii): Legend- This is the type of Oral Literature in which the old stories about famous events or people are told. These stories are not always true. For example the story of Fumo Lyongo

iv): Anecdote- This is a type of Oral Literature which tells a short amusing story on what someone has done. For instance Mugabe’s freeing of Whites in Zimbabwe, Kinjekitile’s use of water in his war with Germans.

v): Fable- This is a type of Oral literature which takes a short story that tells on a general truth. Also, fables can partly base on fact only. Here the fable on the tortoise and the hare is a good example.

vi): Saying- This is a well known and wise statement but it usual carry the meaning which is different from the simple meanings given by the words it contains.

vii): Riddle- This is a puzzling question which is often asked to test the cleverness of the one expecting to solve it. Riddles have two parts the part of a statement or question asked by the narrator and the part of an answer which has to be replied by the listener.

viii): Proverb- This is a short and well known sentence which is given for imparting a moral lesson or advice. For example One finger cannot kill a louse, Unity is strength, Blood is heavy than water.


ix): Fairy tale- These are traditional stories passed to children. Usually these stories involve some imagery creatures and magic.

x): Idiom- This is a phrase which is made of words which convey a meaning which is different from the meaning that one can get from a word when it is in its own. For instance Kick the bucket, Pass away, bite the bullet.



i): It identify the society.

ii): It broadens people’s thinking

iii): It preserves and transmits people’s culture

iv): It educate people

v): It criticize people

vi): It influence people

vii): It develops language

viii): It creates employment to people

ix): It unites people

x): It encourages people

xi): It entertains people):

Qn.2: Compose a story of twenty (20) lines with an end “Unity is strength”.


This is the type of literature which represents the human social realities in written form.

In most of African societies written literature came after the invention of writings.

Before that Oral literature was dominant because the societies were illiterate.

That is to say, written literature came as a product of western education whereby elites began writing and printing some written media as a way of communicating their messages to their audience.

Therefore the presence of written literature expands the mode of presenting social realties to people because people becomes aware on what goes on in their societies through both the spoken and written form.

During the coming period we will spend our time discussing on the genres of written literature. “Education is a weapon toward success”. Meet you next time. BYE!


A genre is a term used in literature when referring to the style which involves a set of characteristics.

In literature genres is used to mean the categories of written literature which have some set of differing characteristics.

Therefore, the term genre is French in origin, which denotes types or classes of literature.

Written literature has three genres being Play, Novel and Poetry.


A Play is a piece of writing which is designed in the way that it can be acted on stage before the audience.

OR- It is a piece of writing which is intended to be acted in a theatre.

Features of Play.

-They are short

-They have some illustrations on top the cover

-They have few Characters

-They take spectacles

-They encompass music

-They have stage direction

-They take few events

-They are told in dialogue

-They divide events into acts and scenes


-Any successful drama has six elements namely Thought/Theme /Idea, Action or Plot; Characters, Language or diction, Music or melody and Spectacle.

1. Thought/Theme/Ideas.

This is what the play means. A theme can be clearly stated in the title.

Sometimes it can be stated through dialogue by a character who acts as the playwright’s voice.

On the other hand a theme may be identified after some study or thought.

Thus, themes are abstract or underlying meaning, issues and feelings that grow out of the dramatic action.

2. Action/Plot.

This deals with events of a play.

It looks at the way events happen in a play.

The plot used in plays must have some sort of unity and clarity by setting up a pattern from which each action initiate the next act.

Usually the plot of a play shows the way characters are involved in conflict that grows from bottom to a top with a certain pattern of movement.

In most cases the action and movement of any play begin from an initial entanglement named exposition, through rising action, then climax, falling action at last to resolution.

3. Characters.

These are people presented in the play in order to peruse the plot.

Every character who is involved in a play can have his or her own distinct personality, age, appearance, beliefs, socio-economic background and language.

Therefore through the way characters are involved in a play is where a reader can refuse or accept them basing on the way and what represent.

4. Language.

This deals with word choices made by the playwright and the enunciation of the actors of the language.

The Language and dialogue used by the characters helps in moving the plot and action of the play along.

Every playwright can create his or her own specific style in relation to the language one chooses when establishing characters and dialogue.

Therefore, this element focuses on the way words are chosen and arranged by in order to suit the subject matter portrayed.

5. Music.

Music can encompass the rhythm of dialogue and speeches in a play.

It can also mean the aspects of the melody and music compositions as with musical theatre.

Each theatrical presentation delivers music, rhythm and melody in its own distinctive manner.

Music is not a part of every play. But, music can be included to mean all sounds in a production.

Music can expand to all sound effects, the actor’s voices, songs and instrumental music played as underscore in a play.

Music creates patterns and establishes tempo in theatre.

In the aspects of the music the songs are used to push the plot forward and move the story to a higher level of intensity.


Composers and lyricist work together with playwrights to strengthen the themes and ideas of the play.

Character’s wants and desires can be strengthened for the audience through lyrics and music.

6. Spectacle.

The spectacle in the theatre can involve all of the aspects of scenery, costumes and special effects in a production.

These are visual elements of the play created for theatrical event.

That is to say, these are qualities determined by the playwright in order to create the world and the atmosphere of the play before the audience’s eye.


Drama consists of different types as explained below:-

a): Tragedy drama

This is the type of drama which takes some serious events. In most cases the main character or hero of this drama ends in suffering, danger or death making the play have sad ending.

b): Comedy drama

This is the type of drama which consists of some amusing, funny and humorous events which always makes the audience laugh.

c): Tragicomedy drama

This is the type of drama which consists of both sad and amusing events. In this drama the main character or hero comes across different hardships but does not end in death.

d): Historical drama

This is the type of drama which portrays on the history of a certain society. This drama also takes some elements of both the tragedy and comedy drama however the main character or hero does not end in danger.

e): Melodrama

This is the type of drama in which characters involved show some stronger emotions than a usual human being can do. In most cases this drama is aimed for entertainment.


A Novel is a prose fiction with a considerable length taking some fictional or imaginary characters and events. In most cases novels are very long, when they become short are called Novella.

Features of a Novel.

-They are long

-They take some illustrations on top of the covering paper

-They are sequential stories.

-They are divided into chapters

-They are told in monologue

-They take many characters

-They take many events

Qn.3: Choose one topic of your interest then compose either a play or novel of not more than twenty lines.


Poetry is a form of literature that uses aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language to evoke meaning in portraying the human social realities.

On the other hand, Poetry is the type of literature which uses beautiful, creative and imaginary language in portraying human daily social realities.

Poetry uses forms and conventions to suggest differential interpretation to words or to evoke emotive response.

In poetry the devices such as assonance, alliteration, onomatopoeia and rhythm are sometimes used to achieve musical or incantatory effects.

Also, in poetry the use of ambiguity, symbolism, irony and other stylistic elements of poetic diction often leaves a poem open to multiple interpretations.


i): It is rich in figures of speech.

ii): It evokes emotions.

iii): It is made of verses and stanza.

iv): It is made in rhymes and rhythms.

v): It meant to be sung.

vi): It gives moral lessons.


Poems can be categorizes basing on their forms and content. Basing on forms, one can divide them into traditional or closed poetry and modern or open poetry.

With traditional poetry refers to those poems which adhere strictly to the traditional rules of composing poems like rhyming schemes, rhythmic patterns, equal number of syllables, verses and stanza.

Coming to modern poetry refers to poems which ignores the structural patterns of composing poems. These poems are also called the free verse poems.

Under content the division of poetry bases on what the particular poem addresses to the audience. Some of such categories are:-

a): Narrative poetry

This is a genre of poetry that tells a story.

b): Descriptive poetry

This is the type of poetry which tells on what someone or something is like.

c): Lyric poetry

These ore poems which expresses personal deep thoughts and feelings.

d): Elegy poetry

An elegy is a mournful, melancholy or plaintive poem, especially a lament for the dead or a funeral song.

These are sad and sorrowful poems which are sung mainly for remembering someone who has dead.

e): Sonnet poetry

This is the type of poetry which is made of fourteen lines with a particular pattern of rhyme.

f): Ode poetry

These are poems which express the writer’s thoughts and feelings about a person or a certain subject.

It is a long lyric poem that is serious in subject and treatment, elevated in style, and elaborative in its stanza structure.

g): Ballad poetry

This is the type of poetry in which the poems tells a story with deep feelings.

h): Epic poetry

These are long poems which deal with a historical subject.

It is a long verse narrative on a serious subject, told in a formal and elevated style, and centered on a heroic or quasi-divine figure on whose actions depends the fate of a tribe, a nation, or the human race.

i): Dramatic poetry

This is a kind of drama which is written in verse to be spoken or sung.


In the study of poetry one may meet with different terms as discussed bellow:-

i): Poetry- This is the art of composing or collecting poems.


ii): Poem- This is a piece of writing in verse and stanza form which express deep feelings in a beautiful language.

iii): A verse- This is a single line in a poem. This line forms a stanza or a part of stanza.

iv): Stanza- This is the combination or collection of verses. Stanza can also form a poem or be a part of a poem.

v): Poet- This is a man who compose poems.

vi): Poetess- This is a woman who compose poems.

vii): Persona- This is a person who speak in the poem. Sometimes persona is called dramatist.

viii): Rhyme- These are similar sounds which appears at the terminal points either across or at the end of each line of the poem.

ix): Rhythm- These are regular movements of beats occurring in the poem as the result of the rising and falling of sounds.

x): Refrain- This is the repeated line which appears at the end of each stanza in the poem.

xi): Tone- This refers to the quality of voice which is used in the poem depending on the message to be conveyed before the audience.

xii): Mood- This refers to the state of mind of a reader which comes after reading a poem.

xiii): Title- This refers to the name of the poem. Some poems take ironical names from which the reader can identify the meaning of such poems.

xiv). Theme- This refers to the central idea which is conveyed in the poem.

xv). Message- This refers to the lesson that one build after reading a poem.

xvi). Poetic license- This refers to the freedom that poets and poetess has in violating some facts and grammatical rules when composing poems.

xvii): Imagery- This is the figure of speech which creates mental pictures through words. Poems are rich in this figure of speech as it appeals through senses like touch, seeing, smell, taste, sound as well as kinesthetic.

xviii): Symbolism- This is a figure of speech which use objects in presenting ideas.

xix): Poetic diction- This refers to the way words are chosen and arranged esthetically in poems to portray human reality.


In order to analyze any poem well one should adhere to the following procedures:-

a): Look and observe at the poem careful- This helps in identifying the number of verses and stanza that forms it. Also, through this one can understand whether the poem is traditional or modern.

b): Read the whole poem careful.

c): Re-read the poem carefully while identifying the difficulty words used in it.

d): Find the meaning of difficulty words used in the poem.

e): Re-read the poem carefully relating the meaning of difficulty words to the context of the poem.

f): Ask yourself on what the poem is all about?

g): Identify the themes portrayed in the poem.

h): Comment on the mood of the speaker.

i): Identify the messages found in the poem.

j): Comment on the poetic diction employed in the poem.

k): Relate the poem read to you personal and national life experience.

Qn.4: By using your experience gained in the study of literature, explain on features which make poetry differ from other genres of literature.
Study guide.

Prepare some samples of poems from the selected texts.

Through guiding questions lead students in groups of five to exercise interpreting the poems chosen.


a): Both portray on human social realities

b): Both use language as its medium of communication

c): Both consists of two elements that is form and content

d): They perform similar functions like educating, developing language and uniting people.




– It is presented orally. – It is presented through writings.
– It is preserved in memory. – It is preserved in writings like novels and plays.
– It involve performance. – No performance rather reading.
– It adopt immediate changes – Does not adhere to immediate changes rather improving the coming edition.
– It is rich in types. – It has few types.
– It is rich in characters.. – It is limited to human characters.
– It is owned by the whole community. – It is owned by the author.
– It is old in age. -It is young in age.
– The performer and audience come together during the presentation. – The writer and the reader stay separable.
– It develops the speaking and listening skills. – It develops the writing and reading skills.


i): It identify the society.

ii): It broadens people’s thinking

iii): It preserves and transmits people’s culture

iv): It educate people

v): It criticize people

vi): It influence people

vii): It develop language

viii): It entertain people

ix): It unite people

x): It encourage people

xi): It create employment to people


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