Wit and Wisdom

In literature (novels, folk tales, plays, movies, etc.) one finds presented two forms of so called "coming-of-age" stories. The traditional method is preparation for adulthood. A youth (generally between 10 years old and 20) passes, by some calamity or other intense situation, from the world of innocence to the world of experience to join the rest of the adults who made the passage before him. The youth is stripped of utopian illusions about life and acquainted with the hard facts of reality in a fashion that is painful, but never lethal. Classic examples of this type of tale include the folk tale "Hansel and Gretel" and Charles Dickens's novel David Copperfield.

Another coming of age or rite of passage presented by literature is the preparation for death. In this version, the character is stripped of the illusions of adulthood and made ready to die peacefully. The plot of these stories (like any in literature) involves some conflict or dilemma which opens the eyes of the character to the certainty of death. Once this is done and the character accepts mortality, he is then able to put his affairs in order (usually with loved ones) and possibly able to pass on learning to his loved ones. An example of this...

Join Now to View Premium Content

GradeSaver provides access to 923 study guide PDFs and quizzes, 7307 literature essays, 2073 sample college application essays, 302 lesson plans, and ad-free surfing in this premium content, “Members Only” section of the site! Membership includes a 10% discount on all editing orders.

Join Now

Already a member? Log in