Does Fiction Build the Morality of Individuals and Societies, or Does It Break It Down?

analytical Essay
941 words
941 words

In this day and age we spend an extensive amount of time engrossed in literary works, films, television shows and other forms of fiction. Some see this in a positive light, contending that fictitious stories cultivate our mental and moral development. Others however have argued that fiction is mentally and ethically obstructive. Posing the age old question: Does fiction build the morality of individuals and societies, or does it break it down? “The goal, I suppose, any fiction writer has, no matter what your subject, is to hit the human heart and the tear ducts and the nape of the neck and to make a person feel something about the characters are going through and to experience the moral paradoxes and struggles of being human.” -Tim O'Brien It is undeniable that fiction has had the power to influence society in the past. History tells, for if you were to go back far enough, you would be able to find evidence of many book burnings having taken place. Consider the book burnings which took place under Hitler’s reign. These books being written commonly by Jews, were usually regarded as being pacifist or against the war and concerned with new educational methods and intellectual opinion. Such destruction would never have taken place if fictitious literary works, weren’t viewed as dissident material which undermined the ideologies of the national socialist administration. This in itself is historical recognition and proof of the influential and distinct power that literature possesses. Why else would it have scared, arguably the most powerful and simultaneously ruthless leader our world has seen yet? “So now do you see why books are hated and feared? They show the pores in the face of life” (Faber from Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury... ... middle of paper ... ...burn.htm [Accessed: 21 March 2014]. Literary Review of Canada. 2011. Why Fiction is Good for You | Literary Review of Canada. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 9 March 2014]. Mcknight, S. 2014. Fiction: Is it good for you?. [online] Available at: [Accessed: 13 Apr 2014]. Chiaet, J. (2014). Novel Finding: Reading Literary Fiction Improves Empathy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May. 2014]. Pacific Standard, (2013). Study: Reading Fiction Makes People Comfortable With Ambiguity. [online] Available at: [Accessed 5 May. 2014].

In this essay, the author

  • Argues that fictitious stories cultivate mental and moral development, while others argue that fiction is mentally and ethically obstructive.
  • Argues that fiction has the power to influence society in the past. they cite oscar wilde's quote, "man is least himself when he talks in his own person."
  • Explains that fiction builds the morality of individuals and societies, or does it break it down.
  • Explains how fiction impacts fact: the social impact of books, and historyplace - triumph of hitler: burning of books.
Get Access