Detailed Explanation Of The GENRES OF LITERATURE

The genres of literature are simply the types of literature and they are basically three:
1) Prose
2) Drama
3) Poetry

PROSE: (genres of literature)

It refers to a long or short text written in a straight forward arrangement and not inverse or metrical arrangement. Also, it refers to any spoken or unwritten language that is in the ordinary form.

Prose is divided into fiction and nonfiction

  • Fiction: This deals with imagination. It is a literary work which is based on what the author imagined. A fictional story is not based on history or facts.
  • Non-fiction: This is the opposite of fiction. It is the record of real life experiences and situations which actually happened sometime about a person. Example is an Autobiography which is the life history of someone written by that same person, and a Biography which is a life history of someone written by another person.


  1. Novel
  2. Novella
  3. Novellet
  4. Myth


Theme: This is the central message behind a literary work as derived from the totality of experiences expressed in the story. It is the messages the author wants to pass to his audience.
Note: There could be major and minor themes.

Plot: This is the sequential manner by which one event leads to another. It refers to what happens in a story as arranged by the author towards the achievement of an artistic or emotional effect. A plot has a beginning, middle and an end . There are two types of plot: Linear plot and Complex plot.

Characterisation: This is the performance of a character in a story. It has to do with the author’s creation of imaginary persons who the reader easily believes as real.

Character: This is the author’s imaginary persons which he creates to move the plot and convey the theme of the story.

There are different types of characters:-

Protagonist: He or she commands attention and the entire story revolves around him. The protagonist is also known as the hero or heroine of a story.

Antagonist: This is the character that directly opposes the protagonist.

Major character: This is the character that features regularly and has much role to play.

Minor character: This type of character that has little role to play.

Dynamic or Round Characters: These are characters that change and grow during the course of the story. They grow from ignorance to maturity as the plot advances

Flat or Static character: A flat character is stable and static. They maintain the same values, attitudes, outlooks, from the beginning to the end of a story. They play the role of a supporting character and they are easily recognized and remembered.
Setting: This is the time and location of a story. It is the physical and periodic background of a story. An author can choose the temporal or geographical surrounding as his setting. He can choose to set the story in the present, future or remote past.

Language or Diction: This is the author’s use or choice of words, symbols, figures of speech and imagery which consists of sensory impressions. It helps in the expression of ideas and views.

DRAMA: (genres of literature)

Drama as a word is derived from the Greek word ‘Dram’ which means ‘do or act’. Therefore, drama can be the telling of a story through acting. It is an imitated human action that shows many life experiences through action by actors on a stage. This means that a play must be acted for a better understanding.


  1. Comedy: This is a play that starts on a happy note. It is full of fun and humor and so ends happily. It has a well-developed plot and more natural characters.
  2. Tragedy: This is a play that ends on a sad note or tragic way. It may start on a good note but ends in sorrow or disaster.
  3. Tragi-comedy: This type of play combines the features of tragedy and comedy. It begins with actions that is serious in subject and seems to be heading to a tragic end but an unexpected turn of event brings a happy ending.
  4. Farce: It is a comic play in which the events are so exaggerated to produce excessive laughter.
  5. Satire: These are plays used to criticize a person, group of people, the government or a friend in the society. In satire plays, faults and wrongs are identified and exaggerated and used to ridicule those involved.

Major Features Of Drama


Dramatic monologue







Acts and scenes


Action, etc

POETRY: (genres of literature)

Poetry can be defined as the act of writing thoughts, ideas, imaginations and dreams into imaginative language. This imaginative language can contain verse, stanza, pause, mere repitition and rhymes. It is a written expression of emotion and ideas rythmically and it is focused on brining out the beauty that lies within the unseen. Somebody who writes or creates a poem is called a poet.


Sonnet: This is a short poem with 14 lines. It is grouped into Italian or Petra chain, Shakespeare and English. Furthermore, the Italian sonnet consist of two parts of octave(8 lines) and seated(6 lines) while the English or Shakespeare sonnet consist of three quatrains(4 lines) and a concluding couplet(2 lines).

Limerick: It is a five line witty poem with a distinctive rhythm in the first, second and fifth lines. The longest lines rhyme.

Epic: This is a lengthy narrative poem in grand language, celebrating the adventure and accomplishment of a legend or hero.

Elegy/Dirge: This is a sad and mournful poem lamenting the death of a person. However, while elegy is written, dirge is meant to be sung.

Epitaph: It is an inscription on a tomb or mortuary monumemt, written in praise of a deceased.

Lullaby: This is a specific song that is used to lure or rub a baby to sleep or sooth a baby when it is crying.
Panegyric/Eulogy: Lastly, the panegyric poem or eulogy is a poem that is designed to praise persons or things.


I believe that now, you are conversant with the meaning and types of the three genres of literature.

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