The pen is mightier than the sword – Essay

The phrase, “the pen is mightier than the sword” is often considered to be a metonymic adage. It was first coined by Edward Bulwer-Lytton. This took place in 1839. This phrase signals the fact that the actions of an independent press serves as a more effective tool than direct violence.

This famous adage has proved to have a great significance over the years. It denotes that even as the sword has the power to kill and win wars, the pen has proved to be a more powerful tool for peace. From ancient times, the sword has played a major role in shaping the history of man. As we all know, the sword possesses the powers to win wars, because of the great valour attached to it and the fear it instils in people. But the humble pen, on the other hand, has proven to be more endowed with the capacity to effect change in history and for mankind, proving to be mightier even when it is more delicate.

This adage in another sense means that the writers of the world have a greater and more profound effect on the world than sword-wielding soldiers have. This is represented in the way the world recognises the names of a multitude of famous writers. Such writers as John Keats, William Wordsworth, William Shakespeare just to name a few. However, only a few people versed in the history of the world will be able to mention the names of great soldiers who fought valiantly and won wars. For so many years, the pen has proven its creative capabilities as written information containing knowledge that can save and preserve lives gets spread over the world. The proverb simply translates to us the idea that writers are more influential than mighty warriors and have done a lot more for mankind with a pen than the sword has achieved.

Writing has been proved to unite people to take a stand against social evils or national evils that they experience. Mahatma Gandhi, known for his peaceful philosophy on life, used his words and knowledge to unite citizens. He never lifted a sword in war but won over the people of a nation through the power of his wise words and strong will. War may result in a victory for one party, but at what cost? The other side suffers defeat, accompanied by the loss of countless lives on both sides. A book, on the other hand, can enlighten a person and change his viewpoint without the shedding of a single drop of blood.

A pen has proved to be an even more effective weapon in the hands of capable writers as tools for creating change and writing history. A pen is constructive, but the same cannot be said of the sword, which has the sole purpose of destruction. The pen has the capacity to pass information in the form of scientific facts and figures as well as math and geometry, and create entertainment in the form of literary works such as novels, poems, tragic or comic stories. These literary works can help stir up different emotions in people and help pass knowledge onto those who read these works. Writing is regarded with respect and those who make this their duty are considered as strong pillars of society. This is mainly because they have the power to steer the world towards change through the power of their world.

Even as a nation, debate and dialogue have proven effective in solving several altercations amongst countries, while the war on the other hand only serves to bring extensive economical and physical damage to the country as a whole. Generally, literature is known as a force for peace and the spread of knowledge, while fighting breeds hatred.


In this world already marked by war and unrest, more pens than swords are needed. Humans are more deeply influenced and affected by ideas, rather than the fear induced by a sword. It is true that the command of a sword had an effect on people, but this effect is not long-lasting. However, the influence of a pen is universal and practically immortal. The writer, however, must exact this power with care as the effects of this power can make or break nations depending on how it is used.

By Caleb