"Literature is a 'special' kind of language, in contrast to the 'ordinary' language we commonly use" (Eagleton 4).
Eagleton makes an interesting case about what literature is and how it is classified. When walking down the street or around campus you may just consider people having normal conversations or dialogue. On the other hand, when you are sitting in a college level English class the language that you use seems much different. Literature seems to hold a higher stature than the so-called "ordinary" language.
This idea is carried through by this quote from Eagleton:
"If everyone used phrases like 'unravished bride of quietness' in ordinary pub conversation, this kind of language might cease to be poetic" (Eagleton 5).
By this point you are probably wondering why I choose this title. A perfect example would be preparing and going to an interview. When you are at an interview you usually are dressed formally and use an elegant dialogue filled with proper vocabulary. You may not cite poetry at the interview, but I am sure that you try to set a positive tone with your, most likely, future employer. So, if everyone used this proper language in "pub conversation" then this too would not be proper whether you were at an interview or at a restaurant.
Literature is developed from generation to generation and interpreted differently over each generation. Eagleton expresses many views about what the future holds for literature. Our children and grandchildren may regard T.S. Elliot as being a poet and/or great literary composer. Although we do not know what the future holds for the literature we study, we do know that the way you express language is a determining factor in making literature and succeeding throughout life.
Click here for the course web page devoted to Eagleton