what are the five major characteristics of apocalyptic literature?


The term ‘apocalypse’ denotes a particular literary type found in the literature of ancient Judaism, characterized by claims to offer visions or other disclosures of divine mysteries concerning a variety of subjects, especially those to do with the future.
Post-apocalyptic also a kind of literary genre set after an apocalyptic event. There is no structure and no society. Humanity has returned to a more primitive and brutal mode of existence.
The Post Apocalyptic Literature came into being in 1947, with the publication of Joseph Ward Moore’s Greener Than You Think. The novel is a bitter reflection of human civilization in a scathing manner often approaching absurdity.

Five Major Characteristics of Apocalyptic Literature

Apocalyptic literature, found in various religious and secular texts, often exhibits several distinctive characteristics:


Apocalyptic literature frequently portrays a stark contrast between good and evil, often personified by opposing forces such as God and Satan, or cosmic powers of light and darkness.

2.Eschatological Themes:

Eschatology refers to beliefs about the end times or the ultimate destiny of humanity. Apocalyptic literature often focuses on prophetic visions of the end of the world, including themes of judgment, salvation, and the final triumph of good over evil.

3.Symbolism and Imagery:

Symbolic language and vivid imagery are hallmarks of apocalyptic literature. Authors use metaphors, allegories, and visionary language to convey their message, often describing cataclysmic events, celestial phenomena, and supernatural beings.

4.Crisis and Catastrophe:

Apocalyptic texts typically depict a time of crisis or impending catastrophe, such as wars, natural disasters, or divine punishment. These events serve as catalysts for the revelation of hidden truths and the fulfillment of prophetic visions.

5.Hope and Redemption:

Despite the bleakness of the apocalyptic worldview, there is often a message of hope and redemption for the righteous or the faithful. Apocalyptic literature frequently emphasizes the ultimate triumph of good over evil and the promise of a new era marked by justice, peace, and divine presence.

These characteristics can be found in a wide range of texts, including religious scriptures like the Book of Revelation in the Bible, as well as secular works such as dystopian novels or cosmic horror stories.

Post- Apocalyptic Fiction in literature

Apocalyptic and Post-Apocalyptic fiction are all classified as sub-genres of science fiction. Apocalyptic fiction is concerned with the end of the world. Common apocalyptic scenarios include: nuclear war, religious end of days (Armageddon), extraterrestrial disaster (asteroid or alien invasion), pandemic, oil has run out, or the breakdown of technology. A common theme of apocalyptic fiction is an attempt to prevent or stop the disaster.
Post-apocalyptic stories often take place in a non-technological future world, or a world where only scattered elements of society and technology remain. Post-apocalyptic fiction focuses on what happens after the apocalyptic event.
It is concerned with how people survive in the new world when most people have been killed off, and all familiar infrastructure has been destroyed. It may be set immediately after, or many years after the apocalypse. It seems the world of post-apocalyptic fiction is having a non-dystopian future.
The most common theme of post a apocalyptic fiction is the modern world became so corrupted due to technological advancement and growing materialism that it destroyed itself. Other themes may be cybernetic revolt, divine judgment, ecological collapse, pandemic, resource depletion, supernatural phenomena, technological singularity, or some other general disaster.
  • The Ice People is a 1998 sci-fi novel by Maggie Gee, set in a future world dominated by a new ice age. Global warming is the initial context, where increases in temperature are then followed by the cyclic appearance of an ice age.
  • Surviving Evacuation: Book one: London by Frank Tayell is a post apocalyptic novel about zombies: that is one of the major concerns in modern world. An outbreak has occurred in New York, of what no one’s entirely sure. There are zombies on the streets and the numbers of the living is diminishing day by day.
  • Flood by Stephen Baxter, published in 2008, is set in England 2016, where the summers are becoming more and wet with each passing year. The sea levels are rising at a catastrophic speed because of the melting ice caps. When the world starts drowning, the race to safe places begins. The novel portrays the current estimates of climate change-related sea level rise- the effects of which are catastrophic.
  • Greybeard is a science fiction novel by British author Brian Aldiss, published in 1964. Set decades after the Earth’s population has been sterilised as a result of nuclear bomb tests conducted in Earth’s orbit, the book shows a world emptying of humans, with only an ageing, childless population left.
  • H.G. Wells, in nineteenth century, wrote several novels that have a post-apocalyptic theme. The Time Machine (1895) has the unnamed protagonist traveling to the year 802,701 A.D. this is a post catastrophic world, where civilization has collapsed and humanity has split into two distinct species, the elfin Eloi and the brutal Morlocks.
Some other examples in literature, Dark Tower by Stephen King, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, World War Z by Max Brooks, I Am Legend by Richard MatJames, Children of Men by P.D. James.
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About Hafsa Tahira

Hafsa Tahira, a passionate educator and literature enthusiast. After finishing her Postgraduate degree in Education from an international university, she is on a mission to inspire, educate, and ignite a lifelong love for learning and literature. Through her writings, discussions, and recommendations, she endeavors to make the world of literature more accessible and enjoyable for everyone, regardless of their background or experience.

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