KOLEC Lesson 05: Functions of Literature

KOLEC Lesson 05: Functions of Literature

According to the Marxist ideology, literature is one of the forms of social awareness. It reflects life in all aspects. 
To reflect all aspects of life, Literature studies the man in the following ways:
*His feelings or emotions;
*His needs; 
*His relationships to his society;
*His interactions within himself and 
*His community and his responses to all these aspects. 
Hence, the function of literature is to discuss all aspects of human relationships. 
We read literature for two major reasons: 
(1) We read literature for pleasure, like passing time, enjoy the people's life, culture and language. 
(2) We read literature for information and knowledge, like at school and solving our daily life challenges.

Literature has got different functions to perform in the society as follows: 
* To educate people. Literature teaches people about existing social, political and economic systems. 
* To express people's culture. Literature like language is an element of culture. It expresses people’s life and culture. For example, there is a culture of eating snails in "Dilemma of a Ghost." 
* To entertain people. Literature as an art entertains and evokes pleasure in the readers. For example, "Three Suitors One Husband" entertains the readers. 
* To influence people in society. Literature influences people by instilling in them revolutionary ideas and different ways of thinking. Read 'Unanswered Cries' to see how literature influences people. 
* To develop language. Literature uses language. Therefore, in so doing, literature develops and improves a particular language through all four language skills; listening, speaking, reading, and writing. 
* To liberate people. Literature also liberates people or awakens them from unfavourable conditions of life or bad treatments in society. For example, Olabisi’s story in "Unanswered Cries" aims  at liberating girls who are forced into female genital mutilation. 
* To criticize society. Literature as a tool for awareness criticizes the society by pointing out the evils and other injustices in society. For example, in "Passed Like a Shadow", the writer criticizes about its careless handling of HIV/AIDS disease. 
The literature will be meaningless if it does not help society to become better. To do this effectively, literature has to warn, criticise, educate, and liberate the people in a particular society.  

KOLEC Lesson 05: Assignment: Functions of Literature 
(1) Explain the reasons why people read literature for pleasure. 
(2) Discuss the reasons why we read literature for information and knowledge. 
(3) "Literature has special purposes to serve in the society." Prove this statement. 
(4) In five paragraphs, criticize any character you know from any literary work you have read in Secondary School. 


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Emmanuel Kachele

Emmanuel Kachele is a founder and Blogger of KACHELE ONLINE Blog, an educational blog where 'O' Level English - 'OLE', 'A' Level English (ALE) and other related teaching and life skills are shared extensively. This is an online center for all Tanzanian Secondary School English Language students and teachers (Forms I-VI) and all interested English Language learners and teachers worldwide.

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