The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword

Meanings of the Phrase, “The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword”

The proverb, “the pen is mightier than the sword” means words are more effective than violence or military power. It also means that communication and power of the independent press is a more effective tool than violence.

Origin of “The Pen is Mightier Than the Sword”

The proverb “the pen is mightier than the sword” was first coined in 1839 by English author, Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in his play, Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy. However, this proverb has also got some Biblical and Islamic echoing but real use found in the above-mentioned book.

Examples in Literature

Example #1

Richelieu; Or the Conspiracy by Edward Bulwer-Lytton

“True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself is nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!”

The above lines express the true meanings of this proverb. The speaker states that beneath the rules of great leaders, kings, and courts, communication or written words are more effective a tool than direct force. To elaborate his ideas even better, the speaker quotes the example of arch-enchanters and states that the arch itself does not perform any magical trick unless its master operates it with communication. Therefore, it is not necessary to win every battle with a sword; sometimes, the world can be saved without violence. The proverb has a denotative use, as it refers to the title of the poem, too.

Example #2

Pen is Mightier than Sword by Barry Mowles

i am sitting here waiting for this ink inside my brain to absorb;
The ink flows through my veins, and spells out “the pen is mightier than the sword”.
Your body is a machine, your engine, your heart;
Your blood is flowing ink, as your brain spends its life tearing these verses apart.

The above stanza shows that the speaker is about to express the ideas running inside his mind. To him, the whole body becomes one when we try to fictionalize something that can bring change in the world. To highlight the power of the pen, she further states that our destinies are also written with a pen, therefore, one should try to make a constant effort to speak his heart because words really make difference in the world. The proverb has been used in its literal meanings without showing any other nuance.

Example #3

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword by Stephen Stirk

“The pen is mightier than the sword
This victory I have claimed
My words have given just reward
He’s dead – I’m only maimed.”

This stanza discusses the impact of violence and words. He states once he had a quarrel with a powerful enemy who wounded him with his sharp weapon. Surprisingly, his enemy fell to the ground with intense pain in his heart after being insulted by the speaker. Thus, the speaker realized that the pen is really mightier than the destructive weapons as hurtful words became the reason for his foe’s downfall. The meanings of the proverb are literal and straightforward.

Example #4

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword by Allen Hollandsworth

The Pen Is Mightier Than the Sword
Having great power
Enchanting the words can be
Pens like a sword can hurt
Everyone knows
No one is sure how sharp their words can be.Q

Swords have no power
Writing with the pen can take you places
Oh even though the sword is sharp
Does it take you into enchanted lands
Swords have their limits.

These two stanzas show that the words can leave a deep and permanent mark on someone’s memory. They can touch someone’s heart even beyond imagination. On the contrary, swords have no power; although it is sharp and destructive, yet it can only give wounds that heal. However, pens are not limited like swords; their wounds have no cure. Moreover, a sword is used in a limited area and within a limited timeframe, while, on the other hand, words provide you wings to fly wherever you want to. Once again the proverb has been used in its literal sense in this poem.

Example in Sentences

Example #1: “I believe that the pen is mightier than the sword and will continue to express my honest opinions even if they offend a few.”

Example #2: “If our ancestors had not believed that the pen is mightier than the sword then we probably would have more destruction in the world.”

Example #3: “You talked about the pen being mightier than the sword but then how did the goons manage to get into the general’s office in the shot so many people in the broad daylight.”

Example #4: “After the mass killing at the newspaper office, there is a protest which is happening in the city declaring support to the paper and proving that the pen is mightier than the sword.”

Example #5: “The books have encouraged many people to change their lives for the better. Hence, the writer knows that the pen is mightier than the sword.”