Literal Interpretation in Literature

Topics: Linguistics, Literature, Drama Pages: 3 (773 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Literal Interpretation in Literature

Literature is meant to provide a perspective on life. Phrases or quotes found in works of literature may be used to help express one's own thoughts, to describe a particular situation, or even to apply the circumstances in another piece of literature. Readers often utilize literary quotes for this purpose, yet not every reader will interpret a given quote the same way. One example of a phrase which can have many different meanings is the biblical quote "The sins of the father visit upon the children."

A literal interpretation of the above quote would mean the wrongdoings of the father somehow affects the children. If the "bad habits" of one generation aren't corrected, they will be passed on to the generations that follow. That can result in generations of drug abusers, spouse abusers, or just rude people. One example of this interpretation might be if a father is a drug abuser, the children will learn from him, and use drugs also. Another example is if the father is abusive, the children will think that is how problems are solved. They, in turn, will be abusive to their families, and will start a vicious cycle for generations to come. These examples definitely show how this biblical quote may be interpreted literally.

"The sins of the father visit upon the children" has a deeper meaning than that described above. For example, "father" could be changed to "parent," and these "parents" could mean "generations" that precede the children. A situation that would represent that would be war or pollution. A second example which illustrates how this quote may be interpreted on a more global level is preceding generations could affect the children by means of racial discrimination that has been passed down from long ago. This may have started with slavery and segregation. Then, as generations follow, racial discrimination is passed. All of these situations prove that one quote may have many...
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