English Language Study Notes English Study Notes

Literature Summary

The meaning of Literature

Literature, in its broadest sense, is any single body of written works. More restrictively, literature is a writing considered to be an art form, or any single writing deemed to have artistic or intellectual value, often due to deploying language in ways that differ from ordinary usage. Literature contain the following function or importance to the society:

Expanding horizons, First and foremost, literature opens our eyes and makes us see more than just what the front door shows. It helps us realize the wide world outside, surrounding us. With this, we begin to learn, ask questions, and build our intuitions and instincts. We expand our minds.

Building critical thinking skills, Many of us learn what critical thinking is in our language arts a class. When we read, we learn to look between the lines. We are taught to find symbols, make connections, find themes,and learn about characters. Reading expands these skills, and we begin to look at a sentence with a larger sense of detail and depth and realize the importance of hidden meanings so that we may come to a conclusion.

A leap into the past, History and literature are entwined with each other. History is not just about power struggles, wars, names, and dates. It is about people who are products of their time, with their own lives. Today the world is nothing like it was in the 15th century; people have changed largely. Without literature, we would not know about our past, our families, the people who came before and walked on the same ground as us.

Appreciation for other cultures and beliefs, Reading about history, anthropology, or religious studies provides a method of learning about cultures and beliefs other than our own. It allows you to understand and experience these other systems of living and other worlds. We get a view of the inside looking out, a personal view and insight into the minds and reasoning of someone else. We can learn, understand, and appreciate it.

Better writing skills, When you open a book, when your eyes read the words and you take in its contents, do you ask yourself: How did this person imagine and write this? Well, many of those authors, poets, or playwrights used literature to expand their writing.

Addressing humanity, All literature, whether it be poems, essays, novels, or short stories, helps us address human nature and conditions which affect all people. These may be the need for growth, doubts and fears of success and failure, the need for friends and family, the goodness of compassion and empathy, trust, or the realization of imperfection. We learn that imperfection is not always bad and that normal can be boring. We learn that life must be lived to the fullest. We need literature in order to connect with our own humanity.

Elements of Literature

Elements of Literature

There are two elements of literature these are form and content.

These element are sometimes called Aspect of literature, analysis of literature is done through the two element form and content.

Note:Form and content are said to be the cup and tea in literature, so we can separate each term to complete a work of literature

In other words form and content are two side of the same coin

But normally form determines content


What is form?

Form is simply the superstructure of the literary work or Is the upper layer of literature work which determine the content in the literary work site. It determine its beautifulness

Element of form

Form is made up with the following element:





Character and characterization

Language use

These elements used to analyze form in a literature work


Refer to the literary heading that verifies the names of literary work e.g.

a) In play

b) In poetry

c) In novel

The title carries the general meaning of the literary work.

The title of the literary work can be used


Metaphorical title

Ironically title

Example of title books in literature work

House boy

Secret lives

Girls at war

House boy

The lion and jewel

Three solid stones

The trial of brother Jero etc

2. Setting

Refers to the place and time where literary event are done or present

This means, setting include two things:



Place refers to area or the point where the literary events are conducted.

Literarily place can be

In urban area

In rural area

In hospital etc

Time refers to the period when the literary event are taken i.e. period –season /age

During colonial era

During primitive

During irone age

During pre–colonial era


The setting for the combine written by Amadi E is said it was written during colonial era.

Ways to determine the setting

The following are ways of determine the setting of literary work;

By using the name of the character E.g. surnames are mostly used example Brother Nyoka, Father Kafupi both names are found in the book of wreath of father Mayer

Imaginative setting is asserting created on people mind example kinjekitile, kusadikika

Note: Setting is a setting which directly a real event

a walk in the night

the government inspector


What is a plot?

The general arrangement of literary events or is the flow arrangement of the literary event example how the literacy event flow.

Types of plot

There are two major plots in plot which are:

Chronological plot

Unchronological plot


Refers to the straight forward arrangement of events in a literary work.i.e. the event are arranged in series from the begin to the end.

Ascending order arrangement goes from chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3 to the end.

This plot is sometimes called straight forward


Refers to un-straight forward arrangement of the literary event in literature.This means events are neither in ascending nor descending order.

E.g. Event are mixed up chapter 3, chapter2, chapter 4, chapter 1 to the end


Is a literary technique used to contract the literary work.

Example the cover style, the title style, the front size

Types of style

There are three types of style;

monologue style

dialogue style

poetic style

Monologue style

Is a style that in which one person speaks in the literary work in most cases? The speaker may be author of the character sometimes is called Narrative style.

Note: Narrative monologue style is commonly used in novel and short stories

Dialogue style

Is a style in which two people speaker by a chance on the issue. It is sometimes called conversational styles

Notes: Dialogue or conversation style is commonly used in play/drama

Poetic style

Is a styles in which a literary work are told in form of verse and stanza, this types of style it common in poetry

The following are other styles in a literary work;

A play within a play

Flash back

Letter styled

Phone style

Code switching style

5. Character and characterization

a) Characters

Characters in written literature are only human being

Character in literature are even most importance because it through them were different action are derived from.

the actions portray the messages

thus no characters no action and no actions no messages is portrayed

Example of characters in literature in English;

Sidi, Sadiku, Baroka, Kalisia, Sentry

Types of characters

There are two major types of characters

Main character: These are characters that exist from the beginning of a story to Almost the end i.e. the life of main characters is seen from the beginning to the end. Example Toundi, Onduoa, Father Gilbert, Sadiku

Minor characters: These are characters that don’t exist from the beginning to the end, they normally exist from some chapters or acts and disappear.Minor characters are attached to the main characters.They carry minor themes. Example Lakunle, Okiki, Member of Parliament


The following are form of characters:

Protagonist characters: This Is a character that the society is required to learn a lot from him/her. This is characterized by many goods acts than bad once. For example women, fighting of colonialism, fighting against drug abuse, fighting against corruption, fighting against all kind of exploitation. Mostly, a protagonist character is the main characters

Antagonist characters:This Is a character that is mostly against the protagonist characters?Antagonist characters is normally characterized by bad acts in most cases. Is the character that the audience (society) hate much his/her action and social appearance is cruel and brutal by nature.

Round characters:Is a character who rotates on either bad or good acts in all his/her life. This character are not well classified to their philosophy or stands

Developing character:They are characters who keeps on changing from bad or good to good or bad E.g. due to peer pressure influence, this character is sometime called dynamic

Dramatic characters: Is a character in action that normally carries comic that cause people to laugh

Flat characters: Is a character who adopt only a part or side acts of the literary , he/she may see the effects but want to solve them by being there.

Static characters:Is a characters whose doesn’t change his/her behavior regardless it is good or bad

Expository character:Is a character who is narrated by the another or other character



These are figurative expression used to add the artistic meaning to the literary work or Are literary creative expressions used in literary works, there are more than 200 figures of speech, and some examples of figure of speech are

Anaphora/repetition: Is the repetition of word or phrases of some content or theme. Anaphora aims to give an emphasis, anaphora is some time called repetition. Example Come here! Come here! Come here!, No! No! No!, Ok! Ok! Ok!

Simile:A stated comparison ( usually formed with like or as between two fundamentally dissimilar things that have certain qualities in common example reboot was white as a sheet after he walked out of the horror movies or A state comparison ( usually formed with like or as between two fundamentally dissimilar things that have certain qualities in common example Robert was white as a sheet after he walked out of the horror movie

Onomatopoeia: The use of words that imitate the sound associated with the object or actions they refers to example the clap of thunder went bang and scared my poor dog.

Oxymoron: A figure of speech in which incongruous or contradictory term appear side by side e.g. I am graceful as a bull in a china shop when I dance.

Metaphor: An implied comparison between dissimilar things that have something in common examples all the worlds as a stage.

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