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The Influence and Relevance of Literature 

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In today’s society, there are several people who believe that literature is simply not important or underestimate its abilities to stand the test of time and gives us great knowledge. The world including me personally came all the way to think that writing is insignificant; however, after reading Northrop Frye’s essay,A Motive For Metaphor my opinion has developed and widened. Frye asks many rhetorical questions similar to“What is ‘the relevance of literature’” (Frye 27), throughout his essay to formulate a mutual association with the reader. This association that is between the author and the reader is a connection of the imagination. The author’s aim to express their vision as Frye puts it is “the desire to associate,” “the power to create,” and “the power to understand and communicate” together forming the essentials of literature. The general link aimed to be accomplished by most authors is the fulfillment of the reader’s “desire to associate” and make connections with the literacy work.

As individuals, we seek this link to literature and being able to connect and relate to something becomes the ultimate goal of language altogether. As Frye mentioned, “You see this world as objective, as something set over against you and not yourself or related to you in any way. And you notice two things about this objective world”(Frye 16). The example of the shipwreck given by Frye is a representation of how us humans need something to relate to and something to hold on to in order to survive. We need to keep our brains healthy by imagining and relating ourselves to something. In William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, a group of British youths living in an abandoned island endeavors an attachment to the outside, real world. They realize a need to construct shelters to remember them of the world they lived in that they had beforehand familiarized themselves with. They feel the necessity to maintain their daily routines such as raising their hand when responding to a question or stating their opinion.

Ralph, when addressing to the other boys with the resolution as to how everyone’s voices will be apprehended mentions, “We can’t have everybody talking at once. We’ll have to have ‘Hands up’ like at school ” (Golding 44). Their want to connect to the outer world is visible where there is a desire to connect, that soon develops into the need to belong. As Frye brought up, “It may have a shape and a meaning, but it doesn’t seem to be a human shape or a human meaning”(Frye 16). We always search for a deeper meaning behind everything, so that it makes sense to us in order for us to relate to it. Literature satisfies this need by the extent of the imagination. Frye introduces his essay by stating, “The world of literature is a world where there is no reality except that of the human imagination” (Frye 57). This is similar to our world, where we make reality what our mind makes us believe to be the reality. As Frye quoted, “It’s not an environment but a home; it’s not the world you see but the world you build out of what you see”(Frye 19). We want to see something beyond our hopes and the real existing world, so we tend to imagine a whole new world around us. In Lord of the Flies, the group of British youths fears of an imaginary beast that wanders the island terrorizing the island. In reality, the beast is just a part of the boys’ imaginations that was brought into existence by the little ones. Simon, at the assembly, states, ‘Maybe there is no beast…. Maybe it’s only us ” (Golding 80). In my personal life, I have also tended to let my imagination get ahead of myself believing there is someone in my room multiple time similar to the way the boys did. When reading this piece of language my class and I fell to believe the beast was real up until the end. Frye earlier defined the imagination to be, “the world we want to have ”(Frye 19). Therefore, this signifies that literature reflects a world that we desire, which doesn’t certainly mirror reality.

Frye later describes creativity as the power of constructing possible models of human observations. Therefore, it is by experiences that we have enhanced our imagination to create literature. Experience is a broad word including those of the literary world. Frye recognizes that it is the literary encounters that have a greater value than observation gained within life when he says “no matter how much experience we may gather in life, we can never get the dimension of experience that the imagination gives us ” (Frye 61). Frye provides the example of Shakespeare, the writer of numerous plays representing different shades of human emotion- from comedies to tragedies to illustrate this concept. As Frye states, ” Shakespeare and Milton, whatever their merits, are not the kind of thing you must know to hold any place in society at all”(Frye 15). Having a place in society, being someone who is looked up to isn’t merely focused on any experience rather on how you place and portray your thoughts to the reader or an audience. Shakespeare manages to create literature; the reason for this being that his literature wasn’t based on realistic experience, but rather literary contacts. Shakespeare’s play, The Merchant of Venice is an example of such. In Shakespeare’s life, it’s meant to believe that he never came across a jew, yet he made the play seem so real and gave an outstanding demonstration of the society’s perspective of jews back then.

As Frye earlier said, “The kind of problem that literature raises is not the kind that you ever ‘solve’. Whether my answers are any good or not, they represent a fair amount of thinking about the questions”(Frye 14). He explained to the reader that language isn’t anything but a way to broaden our understanding and knowledge by putting our thoughts out in the world to be discussed and seen. There is no right or wrong in literature, you don’t require anything to go on this adventure deeply located in your head for you to communicate your way through everything. Evidently, a human’s imagination is the key to creating a better standard with which life should be measured by. Literature is a medium that engages the intellect and imagination of people and ideas. Imagination is the key and crucial for literature as imagination giving us “the desire to associate,” “the power to create,” and “the power to understand and communicate” together forming the essentials of literature.

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The Influence And Relevance Of Literature . (2019, November 26). GradesFixer. Retrieved November 30, 2020, from
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