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Literary Purpose

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English

Literary purpose refers to the reason a text was written. Understanding the purpose of a text is important in order to understand what the text aims to do for the reader.

Why is it Important to Know the Literary Purpose of a Text?

Literary purpose helps us work out the meaning of a text - Identifying the purpose of a text before you analyze it is important as it fine-tunes your analysis. As the purpose of the writing determines the writer's language choices and dictates the text's content, you will know what to look out for when analyzing it.

For example, if a piece of writing is a persuasive letter, you are more likely to observe persuasive writing techniques. By identifying persuasive techniques your understanding of the text will deepen.

Texts can have a range of purposes. For instance, many novels aim to inform readers as well as entertain them. Being aware of the multiple functions of a text is helpful as the different functions uphold each other.

For example, the elements of the novel that make it entertaining, such as descriptive language and symbolism, allow the novel to be successfully informative. The readers' understanding and visualization of the subject matter are enriched by the entertaining elements of the writing.

What Are Some Examples of Different Literary Purposes of Texts?

Possible purposes for different pieces of writing are:

  • Informative - A text informing the reader of factual information, relating to a real-life event or non-fiction topic.
  • Persuasive - Some texts aim to persuade people to see a particular side of an argument or idea.
  • Instructive - A series of instructions informing someone how to do something.
  • Entertaining - A text written to amuse and interest readers.

How do You Identify the Purpose of a Piece of Writing?

Tips for identifying the different purposes of writing.

  • The style of language - The style of language used and the subject matter reveal the purpose of the text.

For example, if the text repeats words, uses alliteration and rhetorical questions, its purpose is most likely to persuade. These are typical characteristics of persuasive writing as the language is inclusive and exciting, enticing the reader to take an interest.

  • Genre/format - The genre and format of the writing can also give away its purpose. If the genre is comedic it is less likely to be informative or instructional because humor is usually a form of entertainment.

Tip: Use your common sense to determine what the purpose of the genre or type of writing is, and see if the language and content match your assertions. If they don't, you could be wrong. Have a re-think about what the language and content mean for analyzing the text, using the examples below to help you.

What Are Some Examples of Informative Texts?

Here are some examples of informative texts and the language used to indicate their purpose:

Leaflets, pamphlets, newspapers, reports, biographies, and non-fiction novels - all of these texts are written to inform people of real-life events, based on factual information.

How do you know if a text is informative?

The language used by the writer indicates one of the primary purposes of the text is to inform its readers. See this example:

' Almost every year since records began, our species has had more energy at its disposal than it had the year before'. Mike Berners-Lee There Is No Planet B (2019).

  • The direct tone and factual information included in the statement suggest the text's primary purpose is to inform readers of climate change.
  • Berners-Lee writes in a didactic tone implying the aim of his writing is to educate readers.
  • The title of the book nods to the subject matter of climate change, further revealing the informative function of the writing.

What Are Some Examples of Persuasive text?

Examples of persuasive texts and the language used to indicate their purpose.

  • Newspaper advertisements, personal opinion pieces, political speeches, editorial and TV commercials - All of these texts are written to persuade people to think a particular way and buy into a concept or product.

How can you identify a Persuasive text?

Persuasive texts usually use alliteration, emotive language, repeated words, and rhetorical questions. Persuasive language is inclusive as it directly addresses the reader and keeps them interested with alliteration, emotive language, etc.

Coca-cola advert - 'Open a coke, open happiness'

  • This statement is direct and confident in its promise of happiLiterary Purpose, Coca cola example, StudySmarterCoca-a-cola advert, wordstream.comness when you open a coke, convincing the consumer they will feel happier.
  • The use of repetition simplifies the statement and makes it easier for the consumer to digest the information
  • It is written like an instruction leaving no doubt in the reader's mind that drinking a coke is a good decision.

What Are Some Examples of Instructions?

Examples of instructive texts and the language used to indicate their purpose.

Recipes, 'How-to' articles, directions, instructions to assemble things, etc - All of these texts are written to instruct people how to follow steps to complete a task and end up with their desired finished result.

How Do You Identify The Purpose of a Text as Instructive?

Literary Purpose, Instructions, StudySmarterInstructions, support.mylightbricks.com

The tone and language used by the writer suggest whether or not it is instructive. If the tone is direct and clear following a step-by-step guide, the purpose of the text is to instruct readers to follow the steps.

'STEP 1 - Heat oven to 190C / 170C fan / gas 5. Butter the base and sides of two 20cm round sandwich tins and line the bases with baking parchment.'

  • This example is from a recipe. The instructional tone, suggested by the wording 'step one, and clear information included in the statement suggest the text's primary purpose is to instruct readers.

Instructive and informative texts have a similar purpose to inform the reader, but it is important to remember they are fundamentally different. Instructions help the reader reach a certain outcome, whilst instructive texts are primarily educational.

What Are Some Examples of Entertaining Texts?

Examples of entertaining texts and the language used to indicate their purpose include n ovels, plays, poetry, comedy, comics, magazines, newspapers, and non-fiction.

Entertaining texts are more subjective than instructive and informative writing because it is personal preference what people find entertaining.

How Do You Identify the Purpose of a Text as Entertaining?

Descriptive and emotive language helps to make texts entertaining by enriching the imagery in readers' minds and keeping them interested in the text. Entertaining texts also inform and educate their readers.

In Jeanette Winterson's Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, (1985), the narrator states 'once I went deaf for free months with my adenoids: no one noticed that either.' The dry tone is humorous, as the narrator is endearing and entertaining, yet the text serves to inform readers of how difficult it was for homosexuals, particularly lesbians, in religious communities.

Task: Re-read this article and decipher which of the examples have more than one purpose, and what their purposes are. Consider how each purpose changes the language choices and content of the text.

Literary Purpose - Key Takeaways

  • The purpose of the text is a gateway to understanding what the writing is about. Without knowing what the text aims to do you cannot take in its content in the way the writer intended.
  • Note the purpose and function of the text before you analyze. Working out what the text aims to do for the reader before going on to analyze it is important as it fine-tunes your analytical eye and helps you know what to focus on.
  • The purpose dictates the language choices and content. Different purposes of different texts result in a different linguistic style and different content included. You cannot properly understand a text or analyze it effectively without knowing its purpose.
  • Texts can have more than one purpose. A lot of texts have more than one purpose, it is useful to identify both as this can reveal more information about what the writer wants the reader to get out of the text.
  • Texts with the purpose of entertainment are the most subjective and most likely to have more than one function. W hat is considered entertaining is subjective. Therefore, entertaining texts are often harder to identify. It helps to consider what types of writing are viewed as entertaining, rather than thinking if you find them entertaining or not.

Literary Purpose

Literary forms shape the meaning and the purpose of the text.

Literature serves many purposes in our society, to entertain, to inform, to instruct, and to persuade. It can also serve the purpose of allowing us to reflect on our history and choices as a society.

Final Literary Purpose Quiz

Question

True or false: A text can only have one purpose.

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Answer

 False. A text can have overlapping purposes. 


Show question

Question

True or false: Instructive and informative texts are the same thing.


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Answer

False. Instructive and informative texts are similar, but they are fundamentally different. Instructions inform readers how to achieve a certain outcome, informative texts educate the reader on factual information. 



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Question

What are two common possible overlapping purposes for a novel?


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Answer

Common overlapping purposes of novels are to entertain and inform.


Show question

Question

 Why is it important to understand the purpose of a text?


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Answer

It is important to understand the purpose of a text so that your analysis can be fine-tuned and you know what techniques to look out for. 


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Question

True or false: The purpose of a text dictates the linguistic style.


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Answer

True. Different purposes of writing require different styles of writing. For example, writing with the sole purpose of informing readers is often less descriptive and emotive than writing that aims to entertain readers. 


Show question

Question

What are some examples of persuasive texts?


Show answer

Answer

Some examples of persuasive texts are: newspaper advertisements, personal opinion pieces, political speeches, editorial, and TV commercials.


Show question

Question

How do you identify the purpose of a text as persuasive?


Show answer

Answer

You can tell the purpose of a text is to be persuasive if it contains alliteration, repeated words, rhetorical questions, and emotive language. Persuasive texts are often made up of these techniques to involve the reader and ignite interest in a concept or product. 


Show question

Question

What are some examples of instructive texts?


Show answer

Answer

Some examples of texts with the purpose of instructing readers are: Recipes, 'How-to' articles, directions, instructions to assemble things

Show question

Question

How do you identify the purpose of a text as instructive?


Show answer

Answer

You can tell the purpose of a text is to instruct if it contains a step-by-step list of instructions and uses simplistic language informing the reader of a process to complete to reach the desired outcome.

Show question

Question

What are some examples of entertaining texts?


Show answer

Answer

Some examples of entertaining texts are: Novels, plays, poetry, comedy, comics, magazines, newspapers, and non-fiction.

Show question

Question

How do you identify the purpose of a text as entertaining?


Show answer

Answer

You can tell the purpose of a text is to entertain if it contains descriptive and emotive language. This makes the writing more entertaining by enriching the imagery in readers' minds and keeping them interested in the text. 



Show question

Question

What are some examples of different purposes of text?


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Answer

Some examples of the different purposes of texts are: informative, persuasive, instructive, entertaining.


Show question

Question

How do you identify the purpose of a text?


Show answer

Answer

You can identify the purpose of a text by considering the genre, format, and style of language.


Show question

Question

How do you identify the purpose of a text as informative?


Show answer

Answer

You can identify the text as informative if it includes factual information and is written in a didactic tone. 


Show question

Question

What are some examples of informative texts?


Show answer

Answer

Leaflets, pamphlets, newspapers, reports, biographies, and non-fiction novels are all examples of informative texts. 


Show question

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