Why Books Get Banned Essays

Why Books Get Banned Essays

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Throughout history, books have majorly impacted the societies in which they were written. Many of the most significant classics in history were challenged or even banned by the people of its time. Great novels, such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, and The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne, have been through their fair share of challenges over the years. People of the 1800s had very strict standards that are very different from ours today, and they did not appreciate it when those beliefs were tested. Three of the most common reasons for challenging books throughout the centuries are sexuality, profanity, and religious beliefs. The question that arises from this information is: what values did the society of the 1800s hold that made them feel these topics were offensive enough to ban books containing them?
Many banned books from the 19th century discussed sexuality or contained sexual content. Kimberly M. Radek, an English instructor at Illinois Valley Community College, has written articles on sexuality, specifically that of women’s, in the 1800s. “Marriage was seen as the only proper locale for moderate sex” (Radek). During this era, sexuality was generally viewed as scandalous. People did not commonly speak about sexual activities outside of their home. “… public discussion of sexual matters was characterised by absence of plain speaking, with consequent ignorance, embarrassment and fear” (Marsh). Those who spoke about sexual topics publicly were looked down upon. To have such things printed in literature was considered profane and indecent. The French novel Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert, released in 1856, is an example of a commonly banned novel from the 19th century. The book was consi...


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...k, Kimberly M. “Women in the Nineteenth Century.” Women in Literature. Illinois Valley Community College, 21 Apr. 2008. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
Reagin, Nancy. “Historical Analysis: Women as ‘the Sex’ During the Victorian Era.” Victorian Women: The Gender of Oppression. Pace University, n.d. Web. 23 Feb. 2014.
Sanford, Otis L. "OPINION: 'Huck Finn' controversy much ado about nothing." Commercial Appeal, The (Memphis, TN) 09 Jan. 2011: Newspaper Source Plus. Web. 24 Feb. 2014.
West, John G. “Evangelical Reform in Early Nineteenth Century America.” Building a Healthy Culture: Strategies for an American Renaissance. Ed. Don Eberly. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2001. 181-199. Print.
Miller, James E., Jr. “Sex and Sexuality.” The Routledge Encyclopedia of Walt Whitman. Ed. J.R. LeMaster and Donald D. Kummings. New York: Garland Publishing, 1998. 628-632. Print.

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