7 junio, 2024

Examples of literary genres and their characteristics

The examples of literary genres They are the lyrical genre, the epic and the dramatic. Numerous subgenres are also included, such as elegies, hymns, biographies, etc. Literary genres are the different ways in which works of literature can be grouped according to their content and the form of expression.

Each literary work can be located in a specific genre and this will depend on the tone, content, length of the work and the literary technique. Poetry is considered the oldest literary manifestation, since the first written works were epic or religious poems.

The language used in poetry is figurative; the text has its own rhythm and images are described to convey the message to the readers. There are three categories of poetic writing: lyrical, narrative, and dramatic.

Each of these categories is further divided into subcategories. In the case of lyrics, there are songs, elegies, odes and sonnets. In each type the feelings of the author are expressed.

The narrative, for its part, has its maximum expression in the epic. It recounts historical events of national or universal importance. Generally, they refer to the feat of a single person.

In dramatic poetry, there are two large categories, tragedy and comedy. Next, each of the literary genres will be described.

Examples of literary genres

Lyric poetry

Lyric poetry is the literary genre through which the author expresses his feelings. At the same time, he seeks to awaken those feelings in whom he reads or listens to, since he usually expresses himself through verses that can be sung.

The lyric is divided into four classes. The first of these is the song, which follows a musical pattern and covers a wide variety of topics, such as love, loyalty, friendship or nature.

There are also sacred songs, which are called hymns. They exalt religious, political, patriotic or military ideals. Some examples are the anthems of countries, universities and states.

Other divisions of the lyric are the elegy and the ode. The first is a meditative and sad poem, usually a lament to someone’s death. The second expresses praise for something. An example of this is the poem «Ode to the onion» by Pablo Neruda.

The sonnet is made up of verses of fourteen lines, which are developed following an established scheme. This literary genre was the favorite of writers like Shakespeare, in English, and in Spanish, Quevedo, Lope or Calderón de la Barca.

Among the modern exponents of lyric poetry are Pablo Neruda, Gabriela Mistral, Federico García Lorca, Antonio Machado, César Vallejo, Alejandra Pizarnik, among many others.

epic poetry

Epic poetry is a narrative story written in prose or in long lines (hexameters). Generally, it recounts the heroic actions carried out by a certain person, considered a hero for some culture.

This literary expression allows exalting the values ​​of some race, culture, religious group or country, where supernatural forces help the hero to achieve his feat.

As an example of the epic we have the iliad and the Odyssey, of Homer, the Aeneid, of Virgil, The poem of mine Cid (anonymous) or the Song of Roldán (anonymous),

dramatic poetry

This type of poetry is especially written for the theater, since it can include tragedy, comedy and dramatic monologues.

It tells a story to an audience. It can also have music and singing. There are some classic examples of this genre, among them: the monologue titled Love song, by J. Alfred Prufrock.

There are thousands of examples: from classical Greek works, such as King Oedipus, from Sophocles, passing through the comedies of Aristophanes, to the theater of Shakespeare and Spanish.

Other literary genres and subgenres

Adventure story

Action is the main element. The protagonist has a mission and must face many challenges. Example: the trilogy The Lord of the rings, by JRR Tolkien.


The writer tells his own story and is written in the first person. Example: My last breath, by Luis Buñuel.


Written in newspapers or magazines. Tell «where», «when», «how» and «why» some event happened. It is informative. The author does not express his own opinion. Example: great white sharks, by Peter Benchley.


It is written about the life of a person, their activities and the most important events. Example: The Story and Life of Amelia Earthart.


Daily record of experiences, feelings and thoughts of an author. Many writers have kept a diary. Examples: Anne Frank’s diary, Virginia Woolf’s diaries, Sándor Márai’s diaries, etc.


Writing that shows the opinion of a person, or group of people, in relation to a specific topic. Example:Are professional athletes paid too much? by Justin Hjelm.

Fairy tales

Magical or wonderful tales that may have folkloric characters, such as fairies, goblins, witches, and include enchantments. They are usually implausible stories. Examples: Cinderella, by Charles Perrault, The little Mermaidby Hans Christien Andersen Snow White, Sleeping Beautyetc.


Brief history to highlight values ​​and morals. Example: Aesop’s fables.


Very imaginative story, which may contain elements not found in real life. Example: The Chronicles of Narnia, by C. S. Lewis.


History that has passed from mouth to mouth through generations. Narrates cultural or ethnic facts.


Stories related to historical facts or characters, can be fictitious or true. Example: Damon and Pythias: The Drama of a Greek Legend, by Fran Kissen.


Literary Devices, Terms, and Elements. Recovered from literarydevices.com.
Definition of Epic. Definition and Examples of Literary Terms. Retrieved from literarydevices.net.
Examples of Epic. Retrieved from examples.yourdictionary.com.

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