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What are the general classifications of literature?

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Quick Answer

The general categories of literature are non-fiction, poetry, prose, drama and media. These are usually called genres. Literature is broken down into genres to make it easier to identify and discuss.

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Poetry is often considered the oldest form of literature, because the rhyming technique used in poems would have been helpful in a time before written language. The main elements of poetry are rhythm, meter and imagery. Not all poems have to rhyme, and they are not required to be written in complete sentences. Poetry is often filled with emotion.

Prose is any type of literature that is not poetry. Prose is always written in complete sentences, and those sentences are put together to create paragraphs. A verbal form of prose is the folktale, which is created and passed down through generations. Sub-genres of prose include fables, fantasies, legends and myths.

The genre of non-fiction is almost always written as prose. Though it can be creative, non-fiction is most often used for educational reasons. Sometimes non-fiction tells a story, such as an autobiography. It can also be used for scientific papers.

Drama is a text that is meant to be performed. It can be read, but the sole purpose of the piece is performance. In modern society, drama is usually either a play or a movie script.

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