General Introduction to Literature

What is Literature?

Literature is a very broad term and as a result, has different meanings depending on the context of use.

Literature is a way of life. It is the way people in different places live their lives. It is their culture and traditions.

Literature is any printed text in any field of human endeavour. Hence, we have medical literature, legal literature, politics etc.

Another definition of literature is as the mirror of life. This means that literature is a reflection of life. It shows is what life is about.

Literature can also be defined as a course of study.

Why Study Literature?

Literature plays an important role in our lives. It is through the study of literature that we are enlightened in our various fields.

Literature makes us aware of our society and also informs about our culture and traditions.

Literature exposes us to the culture of other people too.

Through literature, the wrongs in the society are revealed in so that solutions can be found.

The importance of literature cannot be overemphasized.

Genres of Literature

These are the aspects of literature. There are three genres of literature:

1. Prose

2. Drama and

3. Poetry

Each of these genres has its own features that are peculiar to it.


Prose is a form of narrative written in chapters and paragraphs. It is usually the lengthiest of the three genres and uses everyday language.

Prose can either be fiction or non fiction. Fictions are are imaginary events while non fictions true stories or facts.

A person who writes prose is called an author.


Drama is a work of literature written in acts and scenes. Drama is meant to be acted on a stage.

Drama makes use of dialogue and has a lot of action. People who act in a drama are called actors and actresses. These are also called the characters.

Drama is broadly divided into two: comedy, tragedy. Comedy is further subdivided into tragicomedy and farce.

A writer of drama is called a playwright.


Poetry is a piece of writing that usually expresses deep feelings. It is written in lines and verses/stanzas. It normally uses difficult language that may not be easily understood without deep reflection.

A person who writes poetry is called a poet.


All works of literature contain a theme.

– The tone of a piece of writing, e.g a poem, tells us the writer’s feelings the effect it is expected to have on the reader. The tone may be that of anger, joy, sarcastic etc.

– The mood refers to the writer’s state of mind while writing. He might be sad, excited, happy or bored.

The choice of words a writer uses is called diction.


i. Give two definitions of literature.

ii. How many genres of literature are there? Mention them.

iii. List for importance of literature.


Write short notes on the following:

i. Comedy

ii. Tragedy

iii. Tragicomedy

iv. Farce