English 12 Honors
Periods 4A and 4B
Sample Response Paper
True literature captures the human experience, through the intentional and artistic employment of literary techniques such as rhetoric, characterization, and plot. Literary works are primarily distinguishable from other pieces of writing by their creative or artistic intent, as the noted critic Harold Bloom has stated, “Aesthetic criticism returns us to the autonomy of imaginative literature and the sovereignty of the solitary soul, the reader not as a person in society but as the deep self, our ultimate inwardness.” Thus literature is a personal, yet definable art form.
Society does not use literature in some grand scheme to control the masses, as Terry Eagleton asserts, “…literature has to be recognized as a construct fashioned by particular people for particular reasons” (Terry Eagleton, 10). Rather literature mirrors the collective souls of those who make up society and serves to preserve these shared experiences for future generations to enjoy.
All written works are not created equal and may not be considered as literary art. One could not view informative texts such as news articles and pamphlets as literature, for they simply convey information and lack imaginative and artistic intent. True literature appeals to the reader’s aesthetic sensibilities. Aesthetic authors are keenly aware of the literary techniques that they employ to create the desired reaction in a reader. Hence, true literature is created with intention; each word highly stylized and as guided as any painter would his brush on a canvas. In literature, words form lasting mental images that capture life and allow the reader to appreciate its virtuosity in the gallery of our minds.
Literature, at its best, is a viable work of art that not only engages and stimulates the reader; it arrests a fragment of life and renders it to be seen, to be read, to be understood.