More than just words: what can we learn from literature?

By: NEHA VAZE


posted on: November 8th, 2018

Literature is so much more than words written on a page. It is much more valuable and interesting than it can sometimes sound. It makes us think and reflect on our own lives long after the story is told. This article explores what literature is and why it is important that we read it.

WHAT IS LITERATURE?

Literature includes any form of writing that has been written with some artistic intent. It is writing which has an effect on us and our emotions in some way. Literature can be a book, a poem, a piece of drama or even a spoken story. But reading literature is about more than just entertainment. It is not something we should just appreciate in the moment and later forget. If we think about it further, we can take away a deeper understanding from what we read and use this to inform our own lives.

CHALLENGING OUR VIEWS

A piece of literature can challenge the way we think about a particular issue. It can either change our existing views on a subject or it can provide an alternative perspective in which we could consider it. By doing this, literature makes us reflect on our current beliefs.

If, for example, we have grown up in a society where only boys attend school, why would we think to question this accepted practice? But when we read a story about a rebellious girl who demands education – we are forced to question why we think only boys should be able to learn.

By challenging what we and our society believe, we can bring about change and improvement.

UNDERSTANDING OTHERS

Literature also has the unique ability to make us believe we are within the world it describes. It allows us to experience the past, the present, the future and other ways of life. Through reading, we can reflect on different societies, cultures, periods of time and even the thoughts of other people.

A story could be set in America and describe the life of a young western boy and the challenges he faces in school. Suddenly, we are thrown into a completely different country, a different culture and a different view of life.

OPEN-MINDEDNESS

This exposure offers us new and alternative perspectives on life. In this way, we broaden our understanding of the world and are no longer limited to seeing things from only our own point of view.

If we do not read or consider other people’s perspectives, we can develop prejudice. Being prejudiced means we have a negative opinion of someone without having any true knowledge about them. This leads to intolerance for people who hold different beliefs to our own.

CONCLUSION

When we read a piece of literature, of course we should first take time to enjoy the story. However, we must not forget to revisit what we have read and reflect on what we understand from it. We need to think more deeply about issues which are dealt with in the text. Ultimately, we must ask ourselves what the author is really trying to say to us through his work.

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