English Language
Literary Purpose

Literary Purpose

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The Significance of Literary Purpose in Written Works

The literary purpose of a text refers to its main reason for being written. Understanding this purpose is crucial in fully comprehending the message intended for readers.

Why Knowing the Purpose of a Text is Crucial

Familiarizing ourselves with the literary purpose of a text allows us to better interpret its meaning. By recognizing the purpose before analyzing the text, we can refine our analysis. The writer's use of language and content is influenced by the purpose, providing readers with a clearer understanding of what to focus on.

For example, a persuasive letter will likely employ persuasive writing techniques. By identifying these techniques, we can deepen our understanding of the text.

Texts can serve multiple purposes, such as informing and entertaining. Being aware of these various functions helps support each other to enhance readers' understanding and visualization of the subject matter.

Examples of Different Literary Purposes in Writing

Some possible purposes for different written works include:

  • To inform
  • To entertain
  • To persuade
  • To instruct

How to Identify the Purpose of a Written Work

Here are some tips for identifying the literary purpose of a text:

  • Pay attention to the language used - repetitive words, alliteration, and rhetorical questions are typical characteristics of persuasive writing.
  • Consider the genre/format - comedic genres are less likely to be informative or instructional, as humor is usually used for entertainment purposes.
  • Use common sense - if the language and content do not match your assumptions, reconsider your analysis.

Examples of Informative Texts and Their Language Indicators

Leaflets, pamphlets, newspapers, reports, biographies, and non-fiction novels are all examples of informative texts. These types of texts are based on factual information and aim to inform readers about real-life events.

For example, in Mike Berners-Lee's book, There Is No Planet B (2019), the use of a didactic tone and a title that references climate change indicate the informative purpose of the writing.

Examples of Persuasive Texts and Their Language Indicators

Examples of persuasive texts include newspaper advertisements, personal opinion pieces, political speeches, editorials, and TV commercials. These texts aim to persuade readers to think or act in a specific way.

Persuasive language is often characterized by alliteration, emotive language, repeated words, and rhetorical questions. These techniques are used to directly address the reader and keep them engaged in the writing.

Examples of Instructive Texts and Their Language Indicators

Instructions can be found in various forms such as recipes, "how-to" articles, directions, and assembly instructions. These texts provide clear step-by-step guidance to help readers complete a specific task or achieve a desired result.

The tone and language used in instructive texts are usually direct and precise, focusing on giving clear instructions.

For example, a recipe may use language like "STEP 1" to indicate the sequential instructions that must be followed.

Preparing Sandwich Tins: A Step-by-Step Guide

The first step in using a recipe is to prepare your equipment. For this particular recipe, you will need two 20cm round sandwich tins. Follow these instructions to properly prepare your tins:

  • Butter the base and sides of each tin.
  • Line the base with baking parchment.

This is just one example of a text with an instructional tone and clear information. This type of writing is meant to instruct the reader on how to achieve a certain outcome. But it's important to note that instructive and informative texts serve different purposes.

Exploring the Purpose of Texts

While instructive texts aim to guide the reader towards a specific goal, other types of writing have different purposes. For example, entertaining texts seek to engage and amuse the reader. Some examples of entertaining texts include novels, plays, poetry, comedy, comics, magazines, newspapers, and non-fiction. Each type of writing serves its own unique purpose, and understanding these purposes can enhance our understanding and appreciation of literature.

The Subjectivity of Entertaining Writing

As opposed to instructional texts, entertaining writing is highly subjective and heavily influenced by individual preferences. This means that the language and content used in such texts can vary greatly.

Identifying the Purpose of a Text

Entertaining texts often utilize descriptive and emotive language to activate the reader's imagination and maintain their interest. However, these texts can also aim to inform and educate their audience. A prime example of this is seen in Jeanette Winterson's novel, Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit (1985):

"Once I went deaf for three months with my adenoids: no one noticed that either."

The dry and humorous tone of this line not only adds entertainment value to the text, but it also sheds light on the challenges faced by homosexuals, particularly lesbians, in religious communities.

Multiple Purposes of Texts

When analyzing a text, it's important to identify its primary purpose. However, many texts have multiple purposes, providing valuable insight into the writer's intentions. Entertaining texts often have subjective goals and can serve various functions.

Identifying entertaining texts can be challenging, as personal preferences heavily influence what is deemed as entertaining. In such cases, it is advisable to consider what types of writing are generally perceived as entertaining, rather than solely relying on individual opinions.

Understanding the Literary Purpose

The purpose of a text plays a crucial role in comprehending its content. Without knowing the intention behind the writing, it can be difficult to fully grasp its meaning. When analyzing a text, it is crucial to first determine its purpose as it guides the interpretation and leads to a more insightful analysis. Writers use different language and content depending on the purpose of their text, and a clear understanding of the purpose is essential in properly comprehending and analyzing the message. In society, literature serves various purposes, including entertainment, education, instruction, and persuasion. It also acts as a reflection of our history and societal choices.

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