Great literature is a story that encapsulates the time period in which it was written, while maintaining universal themes regarding human existence. Great literature is able to do this through artistic prose that is accessible to the reader while representative of the character.
Literature is considered great when it is able to withstand the test of time. No matter how dated the setting or characters, great literature is able to connect with every generation and audience. This is accomplished primarily when a piece of literature tells a story through character development rather than plot development. Great literature does more than just tell a story of a war, journey or romance; it tells the story of one's growth and struggle as a person, whether it be against one's self, society or another universal antagonist.
Great literature is unique not only in what it says, but how it says it. It is able to communicate through words the beauty of intangible emotions. Great literature is often known for its way of describing events or feelings within the character that make the reader empathize with those within the story. More than that, great literature leaves readers considering the story of their own lives.