Literature itself has no defined meaning. In the beginning introduction of Literary Theory: An Introduction, Eagleton states numerous definitions of literature to prove the point that there has yet to be one specific definition. Eagleton's definition of literature involves a text that is written in a language that sounds different from the reader's one: "If everyone used phrases like 'unravished bride of quietness' in ordinary pub conversation, this kind of language might cease to be poetic" (5). Eagleton's definition connects literature and society by giving the reader the responsibility of creating their own definition, "the definition of literature [is] up to somebody [who] decides to read, not to the nature of what is written" (5). Through Eagleton's example, we are then introduced to society and its impact on literature. The influences of literature are universal and essential for society. To understand how society and literature relate, it is crucial to understand the impact of social influence in literature. Critic Milton Albrecht describes the relationship as "literature influences or 'shapes' society literature functions socially to maintain and stabilize" (425). For my theory on the relationship between literature and society, I am using Plato, Wordsworth, Marx, Bakhtin, Fitzgerald, Mitchell, and Althusser. I believe that literature and society cannot function without each other and that literature is a direct reflection of what is happening in society. In this paper, I will prove that literature is a reflection of the struggles of the social classes and may be either a portrayal popular ideas of the capitalist culture or a representation of the fear of capitalism and commercialism. .
Plato has many views of literature on society. Plato believes that literature, specifically drama and poetry, is dangerous to the stability for the ideal republic that he envisions.