Literature refers to the creative works of art that include drama, poetry, nonfiction, and fiction works. Literature is a tool that is used to describe the language, tradition, and the culture of different societies. This is because; literature deals with the cultural, and the historical artifact of the society. Through literature, the young members of the society learn about the culture of the society, and the economic activities that a certain society involves. The intended meaning in literary works is discovered by studying the works of an author and analyzing the work according to how the message is said. Interpretation of decoded texts in literary works is done using literary theory, which includes sociological, mythological, historical, and psychological approach. Literature is universal and affects the society members. This makes literature important because, it is used to pass messages to the public through the critical paradigm of its artistic works.
Literature is an art that is used for expression by the authors of the literary works. However, literature is important in the preservation of the cultural customs, morals, and ideas. Through learning literature, the young societal members learn and understand the lives and the livelihood of people who lived in the ancient days. This is because literature is used as a bridge in which the members of the society learn about the experiences in the ancient times. The literal works use literal devices such as themes, metaphor, allusions and foreshadowing, which gives the reader an opportunity to analyze literal works beyond the written words. Through literature, learners get to learn about the line of thinking of the ancient philosophers, and dictate the feeling of the learners about the present things. This is because the literal works give a history on what happened, the cultures, and heritage of the people living in the recent past.
Morals in the society refer to the standards of behavior, and the principles that the members of the society are required to follow. Morals are explained as the rules of conduct that govern a society or community. Morality defines the differentiation of actions, decisions, and intentions, between those that are wrong, and those that are right. Morals are different according to the distinct religions, cultures, and philosophies. According to John Milton’s 'Paradise Lost', the moral issues started right from the bible, in the story about ‘The Fall of Man.’ In his poem, Milton explains the temptations that Adam and Eve passed through while in the garden (Black 998). The Satan, who was a fallen angel put Adam and Eve into temptation after being placed in the Garden of Eden by God. After the test, Adam and Eve failed to follow the rules and morals that had been set which led to their elimination from the Garden of Eden.
Milton, in his poem, portrays lack of morals in the society, when Satan and other angels rebelled from God, and consequently, they were banished to hell. Because of Satan’s rebellion against God, there emerged warfare between the faithful angels and the forces that were organized by Satan. Milton asserts that the war took over three days. Angelic war is depicted in the poem, in which it is recounted in different perspectives. Emergence of warfare between the angels and the Satan’s team is considered as part of immorality in the society. This is because war is a social ill in the community. Milton explains that Adam and Eve committed lustful sex after they ate the forbidden fruit. John asserts that Adam thinks that Eve was right when she declared that eating the forbidden fruit would be of benefit in their lives (Milton 98). Lack of good morals in the society has consequences. Milton explains that because of the sin committed by Adam and Eve, they are evicted from the Garden of Eden. According to Milton, God is invisible, though omnipresent. The distance in the relationship between Adam and Eve enlarged.
Moral values are crucial in the society. Milton views the construction of temples and other buildings to serve as places of worship as immorality. Evidently, Adam offers to build altars to worship God as a way to atone for the sins he had committed. This is because Adam had sinned before God and as a result, the presence of God had vanished from him. This is used to explain the consequences of lack of the moral values in the society. Milton further explains the importance of the moral values in the society by rejecting Catholicism. Catholicism dictated that monarch ruling, which explains ruling through the divine right. In his poem, John portrays the protection of community values as an important factor in the society.
Moral issues have also been developed in Okot p'Bitek’s Song of Lawino. Among the poems Okot has written, is the poem with the heading, “The Woman with whom I share my husband with.” Okot has used the poem to explain the importance of morals in the society. Okot explains that morals of each community need to be preserved by the community members (Okot 62). In the poem, the reader learns about the ancient cultures of the Community in which Ocol lives. The society believes in being natural, and does not entertain the use of makeup for enhancing the beauty of women. Okot explains this, when he writes about Clementine, who is an old woman, but applies makeup to please Ocol. Ocol, who is in an affair with Clementine start showing disrespect to his wife, in whom they are married for a long period (Kalu 76). Clementine is an Africa woman who has adopted the culture and morals from the west. Clementine uses chemicals to bleach her face, in order to be like the European people. Because of the chemicals used by Clementine, her face changes but Clementine is unable to transform the colour of the skin on the arms and neck. Okot explains that Clementine looks like a zebra when it rains. Clementine further uses lipstick on her mouth, which is not accepted by the traditional culture and morals of the society.
Both Okot and Milton have used literature in their works of art to explain the morals of different societies in the ancient times. Readers who study their materials are able to learn and understand the lives that the ancient people in the societies led. Literal language has been used as a mirror, which is used to reflect the activities of the ancient societies and practices that the people adopted. The works of art enrich the society because the young in the society learn the ways and the cultures that different societies adapted practiced in the ancient days. Literature is important because it links the past and the future in the society. The activities and the ways of life in the early days can be read in the present times by referring to the literal materials.
Black, J, ed. "Paradise Lost", The Broadview Anthology of British Literature A (Concise ed.), Peterborough, Ontario: Broadview Press, 2007, pp. 998–1061
Kalu, Anthonia C.. The Rienner anthology of African literature. Boulder: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2007. Print.
Milton J., Paradise Lost: a poem in 10 books. Samuel Simmons, 1667. Print
Okot p'Bitek, songs of Lawino. Longhorn publishers, 1966. print