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Literary Appreciation : Definition, Elements, Approaches, Stages, Importance

Literary appreciation is the ability to study, understand and evaluate or make a critical judgement of literary works. What is Literary Appreciation.

Literary Appreciation

Literary Appreciation

Literary appreciation is one of the most potent things to consider when the term "Literature" comes up for deliberation. It is inseparable from the characteristic nature of literature itself. This is evident in the three genres of literature: poetry, prose and drama. This is because without any attempt at appreciating a literary text, it is difficult to justify that one has actually read it.

Literally, appreciation of literature and literary works is an attempt to make literary works more valuable. Literary appreciation helps to deduce the meaning behind these works, as well as their importance, their imitation of life as literary works, and the values, motivations, and beliefs that are inherent in the works. It also allows the reader to have a better grasp of the writer's psychological emotions or  attitude towards his or her works.

Appreciation of literary works gives more space to have in-depth insight about them and not consider them as merely words combined together to form a book.

In short, literary appreciation lets us learn more about a work of literature than it simply appears.

To have a better understanding of the concept of literature, it is imperative for us to consider the meaning of literary appreciation, the stages of literary appreciation, including its elements and approaches, and its importance to literature as a whole.

Also Read: How To Employ Writing Mechanics In Writing 

What Is Literary Appreciation?

Meaning of Literary Appreciation — Literary appreciation is the ability to study, understand and evaluate or make a critical judgement of literary works. The writing styles, themes, figurative and non-figurative use of language, literary devices and other elements that are visible in a literary work are considered and studied through the use of literary appreciation.

Other scholars of literature also have their own varying definition on the concept of literary appreciation. Notable of these scholars are Ogenwele (2006) and Donelson and Nilsen (2009).

Ogenwele (2006) defines literary appreciation as the evaluation of works of imaginative literature as an intellectual or academic exercise. Through this evaluation, the reader can properly and easily interprete the intent of the writers as well as the complexities and the advantages and disadvantages of the literary work.

Similarly, to Donelson and Nilsen (2009), literary appreciation echo this sentiment and add that it is the process by which one ‘gauges one’s interpretive response as a reader to a literary work.

In essence, the meaning of literary appreciation is, in other words, reading, understanding, and making a critical judgment of the theme, style, use of figurative and non-figurative language, and other elements of a literary work. As a result, when an attempt is made to discuss and judge a work of literature with the intent of giving feedback or an opinion about the work, such an attempt is called literary appreciation.

Also Read: What Type Of Writing Is Most Similar To An Autobiography?

Elements Of Literary Appreciation

There are some indispensable elements of literary appreciation. They are provided below:

  1.  Plot: This is the sequential arrangement of events in a literary work. It's the storyline and must be detailed.
  2. Theme: The theme is the central idea that is inferred from reading and interpretation of the plot, imagery, and symbolism in a literary work. In other words, it is the central issue raised in the work.
  3.  Style: This is the way the language is structured or the ways or manner in which a work is written. Technically, every writer has his or her own style of writing.
  4. Mood: This is the feeling of atmosphere that the writer created for the reader through the description of the setting, what the characters say and the use of language. This element of literary appreciation is important in order to fully appreciate the literary work by having a classical overview of the writer's intent, mood, or emotions.
  5. Diction: This has to do with the author's choice of words.
  6. Literary devices: The literary devices used in the work could also help the reader fully understand the work, despite the expressions used.

Approaches To Literary Appreciation

Approaches To Literary Appreciation

These are some of the approaches to literary appreciation that can be adopted in order to have a full grasp of what a particular literary work entails. They are:

  • The context of the literary work
  • The structure of the work.
  • The poetic devices employed in the work
  • The themes inherent in be literary work

7 Stages Of Literary Appreciation

There are 7 stages of literary appreciation which could serve as a guide to the better to evaluating literary works. 

In Margaret Early’s Stages of Growth in Literary Appreciation, these stages are considered as parts  of literary appreciation and determining the personal attitudes, reading and observing skills .

These stages through which the readers go through are added to without dropping the previous stages. As a result, appreciating literary works can be considered as a lifelong process.

To give more clarity, Donelson and Nilsen (2009) devised that there are 7 stages of literary appreciation.

The 7 stages of Literary Appreciation are: 
Level 1: Pleasure and Profit (literary appreciation is a social experience)

Level 2: Decoding (literacy is developed)

Level 3: Lose yourself (reading becomes a means of escaping)

Level 4: Find yourself (discovering identity)

Level 5: Venture beyond self (‘going beyond me’, assessing the world around them)

Level 6: Variety in reading (reads widely and discusses experiences with peers)

Level 7: Aesthetic purposes (avid reader, appreciates the artistic value of reading)

Literary Appreciation Skills

There are literary appreciation skills that can help the readers strategically appreciate the text or work more. The following are literary appreciation skills that can be learnt:

  1. Learning to verbalize emotional responses
  2. Identifying characters
  3. Identifying sensory expressions
  4. Understanding the figurative language
  5. Identifying the tone and mood
  6. Enjoying the humor
  7. Appreciating poetry/prose works

The teaching strategies that can be employed to gain literary appreciation skills are:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Oral interpretation
  • Dramatization
  • Reading 
  • Writing 
  • Art

How To Write A Literary Appreciation 

How To Write A Literary Appreciation

Learning how to write a literary appreciation requires answering some necessary questions and following some adaptable formats. In this section, we will be considering the literary appreciation of a poem.

Some of the important questions to ask before writing a literary appreciation of a poem are:

  1. Who wrote the poem?
  2. When and where was the poem written?
  3. Does the poem appear in the original language? Otherwise, the readers can be advised to consider the translation of the poem. This is because an interpretation of the language of the poem can equally alter its meaning.
  4. Is the title's meaning readily obvious? or is it subjective to multiple possibilities or meaning? 
  5. Does the poet's life suggest any special point of view, such as political affiliation, religious sect, career interest, musical talent, family or personal problems, travel, or handicap? 
  6. Does the poem belong to a particular period or literary movement? 
  7. Is the poem part of a special collection or series?
  8. Identifying genre/category/type/style 
  9. Who is the narrator of the poem?
  10. What is the point of view from which the poem was written and the tone in which it was written?
  11. What is the mood of the poem?
  12. What is the main theme of the poem? You can also consider the side themes.
  13. Why did the poet write the poem and what influenced him?
  14. What are elements of idealism and realism (idealism is the beauty of great literature, realism)?
  15. What are the major ideas you can grasp while preparing a summary of the poem?
  16. Lastly, what is the literary and historical context of the poem?

Noteworthy, the above questions are mere examples that can guide you while preparing to write a literary appreciation. They can also be adopted while appreciating any other genres.

To learn how to write a literary appreciation of a poem, follow the steps below:

1. Read The Poem Aloud

Read the whole poem aloud, look up unclear vocabulary, and write down paraphrases where necessary. Take your time to fully understand the poem.

2. Organize Your Writing Approach

Organize your writing approach stanza by stanza or by themes and ideas that are reflected in the poem. 

3. Employ Quotations 

Make use of quotations and adopt them in your sentences. These are quotations of lines from the poem as they are relevant to the paragraph or line. Use short quotations. It doesn't necessarily have to be a long quotations; a single word can suffice. They, however, must be supportive of the point you are making.

4. Begin The Introduction 

Hence, you begin the literary appreciation of the poem. You are expected to give an introduction to the poem and the poet, the publication, an analysis of the literary movement, and what the poem represents.

Also, include the title, the purpose of the poem, and any other necessary background information about the poem.

Under this section, ensure you spark the interest of the reader with an interesting opening, contextualize the poem and poet for proper understanding, and then proceed to briefly discuss the subject, speaker/hearer set-up, physical setting, occasion or event, and overall form.

5. Write The Main Body

This should be based on a critical description or summary of each stanza of the poem. Evaluate and interpret them by employing quotations from the poem.

You can then proceed with the discussion on the literary and language aspects of the poem and your personal opinion or perspective as a whole.

6. Conclude 

This is where you conclude your literary appreciation of the poem. You inform the readers about the theme of the poem, the tools employed in conveying the message of the poem, and how useful and effective they were.

However, conclude strongly in the same way you started.

The Difference Between Literary Appreciation And Literary Criticism

There is a subtle difference between literary appreciation and literary criticism. The difference is that literary appreciation is majorly the ability to evaluate as well as enjoy works of literature. The goal is largely pleasure.

 Literary criticism on the other hand seeks to understand why and how a particular literary work works.

Importance Of Literary Appreciation

Literary appreciation is an alienable part of literature. In the same vein, its importance to the understanding of literature, its benefits and the literary works can't be overemphasized as it is.

The following are the importance of literature appreciation:

  1. Proper Evaluation: Hence, one of the importance of literature is that it allows proper evaluation of literary works. 
  2. Connection Between The Readers And Writers: It also gives more intimation between the readers and the writers— like some sort of connection focused on the same literary pieces.
  3. It Gives More Value: Another importance of literary appreciation is that through such attempt of evaluation, literary works become more valuable. 
  4. Information And Imagination: It helps us to have full grasp of the informative and imaginative aspects of literature.

Literary appreciation focuses on the adequate grasp of the definitions and applications of traditional literary devices such as plot, character, metaphor, setting and symbolism which may be encountered within texts.


Literary appreciation as stated earlier is inseparable from literature as they work hand in hand for the better evaluation, understanding of literature. Through it, literature stands the chance to be more valued.

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Pawners Paper: Literary Appreciation : Definition, Elements, Approaches, Stages, Importance
Literary Appreciation : Definition, Elements, Approaches, Stages, Importance
Literary appreciation is the ability to study, understand and evaluate or make a critical judgement of literary works. What is Literary Appreciation.
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