The Genres in Literary Works

A term, most of us are well acquainted with yet do not know that well, genre refers to or rather denotes a type or class of literature. The term is of French origin and simply puts the works of art into several categories depending upon the characteristics that they share. 

The literary works have been, over the years, classified into various categories wherein the criteria of classification are highly variable. However, since the conceptions of the works of Plato and Aristotle, 


there have been divisions of the overall literary domain into three large categories according to the speaker of the work. Genre forms the basis of the literary studies or the study of any art therefore, 


it becomes important to understand these categories so that literature students can benefit with it and can get effective assignment help. 

  • Lyric: 


Works classifies under this category were uttered throughout in the first person and in such poetry this person expresses his personal emotions and feelings. 


Lyric poetry depends upon regular meter which is based on number syllables or stress.

  • Epic or narrative: 


In this type of work, the narrator speaks in the first person and simultaneously allows the characters to speak for themselves in order to connect the dots. 

  • Drama: 


A drama is written in the form of dialogues wherein only the characters do the talking. There is hardly any narration in a drama and the only extra sentences are written to define the feelings of the characters or the setting of the plot. 

Similar to this grouping, there was a tripartite scheme that was elaborated by the German critics in their research paper writing, in the late 18th and the early 19th century. 


This scheme was later used by James Joyce in his Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and it still functions in the critical discourse and in general differentiation between courses and poetry, drama and prose fiction. 

Within these divisions, Aristotle and other classical critics have identifies a number of more specific genre. The Ancient ones were epic, comedy, tragedy and satire and 


they have been supplemented by present day newcomers that have been added in the last three centuries which are novels, essays and biography. 


There are numerous classifications in which the prose and verse are divided that hint at the crisscrossing diversity in the assignment of these works of literature. Throughout the era of Renaissance and the larger part of the 18th century, the recognized genres were widely thought to be fixed literary type. 


Most of the neoclassical critics insisted that each of this kind must remain pure, that is there must be no mixing of comedy and tragedy, and there were certain rules proposed which specified the style, structure, subject matter and emotional effect proper to each kind. 


At that time, there was a hierarchy according to this genre which was commonly related to the ranking of social classes – from royalty to nobles to the peasants. 


These genres ranged from epic and tragedy at the top in the hierarchy to the short lyric, pastoral, epigram and other types which were then considered to be minor genres and thus put at the bottom. 


Shakespeare himself gave a classification to his genres yet satirized the pedantic classifiers of his era that classified the type of drama into tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral- comical, historical- pastoral, tragical- historical, tragical- comical- historical-pastoral…. 

By the time 18th century arrived, new types of literary productions emerged – such as the novel and the poem combining philosophy, narrative and nature description. 


By the end of the 18th century and the arrival of the 19th century, the short lyric poem saw an extraordinary rise in prominence and prestige and there was a concurrent shift ion the basis of critical theory to an expressive orientation. 


This drastically effected the conceptions and rankings of literary genres when lyric displaced epic and tragedy as a quintessential poetic type. From the romantic period onwards, 


the emphasis on the generic conception of literature decreased and there was a widespread use of criteria for evaluating literature which was broadly applicable to all literary work. 


The mid-20th century saw the development of New Criticism which emphasized on the concept of uniqueness of each literary work. Therefore, genre just played a subordinate role in evaluation and critical analysis. 

After the year 1950, literature again saw a revival of these generic types by some critical theorists, although they were revived on varied principle of classification. 


The research paper writings by R. S. Crane as well as several other Chicago critics, have come up with defense for the utility for practical criticism, 


where literature is segregated depending upon their organizing principles, in order to achieve an emotional impact. 


Northrop Frye came up with an archetypal theory wherein the four major genres of romance, comedy, tragedy and satire are held to manifest the enduring forms given shape by the human imagination. 


On the other hand, other theorists, treat genres as social formations based on the model of social institutions such as church or state, rather than a model of biological species. 


According to structuralist critics, genres are said to be a set of constitutive codes that change from age to age but share a relationship between the reader and the writer. 

Today, certain critics regard genres as arbitrary modes of classification which just serve the purpose of making the study and discussion of literature convenient. 


The philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein came up with the concept of family resemblances accorded to these genres, which means that they are grouped together depending upon the common characteristics they share with each other. 


Irrespective of whatever classification they are put in, genres serve the most important purpose in literature, classifying them into categories that tell the reader about the work’s intentions. Therefore one needs to keep in mind this definition and function of genre n the literary world, in order ot gain an effective assignment help.