The didactic type of literature has a rather narrow meaning. It implies any literary piece that’s written with the intention to teach, instruct, or provide information. This, of course, can be combined with the purpose to entertain. For instance, the majority of children books can be referred to as the didactic kind of literature.

The term “didactic” can oftentimes be used in a negative meaning, especially concerning everyday life. For instance, when someone is calling a movie “didactic”, this might mean that it is too boring and not entertaining enough to their taste.
The term derives from the Greek “didaskein”, which translates as “to teach”. It was first put to use in English somewhere between 1650-1660 and referred to its original meaning.  

There are numerous literary tools that can be presented in the didactic type of works in order to deliver the lesson more effectively and add the artistic elements to the narration. These linguistic devices include:

  • Analogy.
    It illustrates the relation between two objects or concepts that share certain similar features. This tool helps the author deliver the message more effectively. It also comes in handy when the writer needs to explain the concept that the reader isn’t familiar with yet, by comparing it to something they already know.
  • Personification.
    This literary device is prevalent in the didactic children stories. It implies transferring human characteristics onto inanimate objects, natural phenomena, or animals. When applied to the kids’ books, personification helps the author teach a lesson, providing common and enjoyable examples (illustrated by animals).
  • Metaphor.
    Metaphors are used in numerous literary works and imply illustrating the identity or the meaning of an object by comparing it with another object. In didactic literary pieces, metaphors serve to create a brighter, clearer image of a concept or a character, which can help the author deliver a certain message and teach a lesson.
  • Juxtaposition.
    It involves depicting two contrasting concepts, objects, or ideas in a parallel structure. When used in didactic works, this linguistic tool helps the writer deliver the lesson by highlighting certain traits that belong to the juxtaposed objects or concepts thanks to the contrast between them.
  • Hyperbole.
    This is another very commonly used linguistic tool. Hyperboles imply intentional exaggerating and overemphasizing in order to cause a stronger impact on the reader. This helps the author affect the reader, thus teaching a certain lesson more effectively.

The purpose of didactic literary pieces and linguistic devices is simple and obvious: to teach and to provide information. Although some authors consider this literary style to be outdated, it was quite popular until the 18th century, as it allowed the writers to share the knowledge in an artistic form. 

Didactic literary style gives the author an opportunity to present their moral beliefs, philosophical opinions, religious points of view, and even scientific knowledge in pretty much any literary genre. This is an excellent way to inform the reader in an artistic way, using countless linguistic tools and techniques and making this informational style more entertaining.

Didactic works oftentimes serve to create certain moral guidelines and introduce them to the reader in a not too obvious, subtle way. It is easier for humans to perceive information when it is presented in an artistic form, which is why didactic literary pieces are able to make a strong impact on the reader.

Bible is probably the most well-known example of a didactic written piece. Being one of the most frequently sold books in the world, it contains an endless number of literary devices, which are used to support the didactic style of this written piece and illustrate the moral guidelines more vividly.

R. Kipling in one of his poems called “If” shares specific guidelines and rules, which are supposed to help his son (and each reader) become a decent human and lead a good life (based on the author’s standards and opinions). Thus, the poem belongs to didactic literature, as it serves to teach the reader. The promise “you’ll be a Man” implies reaching a certain standard, becoming a model of behavior, which is only possible by following the instructions illustrated in the poem.

The work “Siddhartha” by Hesse is an excellent example of the didactic literary style too. Here, the author depicts moral guidelines as well as major elements of Buddhism. While the main hero tests numerous methods in order to achieve the state of complete enlightenment, there are many things the reader can learn from as well. The list of the things the character tries is helpful and educational on its own, but the author enriches it by presenting additional lessons, which serve to instruct both the main hero and the reader.