Essay about Literature and Society

1041 Words Jan 13th, 2012 5 Pages
Literature is intimately related to society. Viewed as a whole, a body of literature is part of the entire culture of a people. The characteristic qualities that distinguish the literature of one group from that of another, derive from the characteristic qualities of that group. Its themes and problems emerge from group activities and group situations, and its significance lies in the extent to which it expresses and enriches the totality of culture. It is an integral part of entire culture, tied by a tissue of connections with every other element in the culture.

Society influences literature in many ways, and the connections of literature with society are integral and pervasive. In fact, the range for social influences on literature is
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Quite different was the position of the theatre in that period. The Elizabethan playwright was no longer dependent on the benevolence of a single patron. It is true that the various companies of actors described themselves as in the service of great aristocrats, but this was no more than a formality rendered necessary by certain provisions of law.
The influence on literature of the social power of the aristocratic group, restricted to some extent only in the theatre, continued plainly in English literature down to the eighteenth century. Only then did a real reading public develop on a wider scale. In place of patron came the publisher, who for a long time used to fleece the writer. It was only in the nineteenth century that the writer could liberate himself from the oppressive and humiliating dependence on the great, and win for him the dignity of independence.
Thus we see that the sociological conditions exert a great influence on the writer. But the writer is not only influenced by society: he influences it also. Literature not merely reproduces life, but also shapes it. People may model their lives upon the pattern of fictional heroes and heroines. They have made love, committed crimes and suicide according to great books like Goethe’s Sorrows of Werther and Dumas’ The Three Musketeers. Addison, by means of his satirical writings, changed, to some extent, the manners of his society; and Dickens’ novels

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