The Powers and Abuses of Literature

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Literature has had a long history of influencing and affecting people's lives. Prior to the advent of technology, literature was more widespread in the development of the majority of standard human conditions. It also served as the foundation for the exchange of information and ideas from one group of individuals to the next (Bennett and Nicholas 35) Written literature has been strong and active, influencing primarily the worth of individuals and society as a whole. Literature has long been acknowledged as a vehicle for crystallizing ideas, thoughts, and events that are important to individuals and communities. Therefore, it has the power of bringing people together and causing divisions in the society. According to Hume (87), literature has an enhanced capacity of bringing coherence, war and peace among individuals. Literature has been effective in defining and describing various roles that individuals in the society play in shaping their faiths, beliefs, and their ways of doing things. Through literature, individuals can have ideological or rational expressions and have been a great medium through which information is passed from one generation to the other.

Research by Garber (117) indicates that, literature has been effective in helping communities to pass their faiths, ideologies, values, and beliefs to other groups and generations and has been helpful in delivering different forms of guidance including religious and developing various structures that have been enabling people to be productive and successful in their daily operations. Leitch and William (51) argue that literature does not become old and its impact has been growing with the application of its concepts. In most cases, crisis and misunderstanding arise among individuals in the society. Literature has the power of enhancing reflection. Individuals can access solutions to any profound mistake, therefore, strengthening unity among people. On the other hand, literature has been found useful in distorting the ways of thinking among individuals. It can be used as a medium of propagating false and misguiding information. Furthermore, literature has been recognized as having the potential of evading and exploring worlds that can be created by the thinking of individuals.

Communication has been changing and evolving tremendously throughout the history of the communities or societies. Changes have been encouraging adoption of additional techniques of communication where past events are recognized as being relevant and useful among all generations. Stephens and Robyn McCallum (57) perceptively states that literature exists among all people across the history and it is possible to tell whether they are present at a given time or have become extinct. Among the primary consideration is how the different readers and the techniques that were applied at a specified period drive literature. It is likely for individuals to face discrepancies when they are analyzing literature topics that go from one age group to the other, especially where the available information is tailored to meet the demands of given groups of people, such as influence. Bennett and Nicholas (76) state that, oral communication was applied in delivering literature among generations, but with the invention of technologies, it has become possible to document it, increasing efficiency with which it is transferred from one generation to the other. Traditionally, ideas and information were given in the form of stories and were done under star constellations, and this connection led to the emergence of the literature that individuals enjoy today.

Powers of literature have been tremendous and have been the critical drivers for most of the traditions that people are enjoying today. It is through literature that the culture, traditions, and beliefs of the human race are obtained and reserved. This made individuals start paying attention to the areas they took as their destined achievements. People started recognizing the essence of having a platform where they could carry out their activities both in their individual and group levels. This encouraged the emergence of stone drawings and carvings with the aim of recording information for future reference and for transferring to the coming ages. The art and the scriptures gave direction to the current literature through insights of new techniques of storing records, data, and information. Literature existed since prehistorical periods, but the methods of passing them from one generation to the other were less useful together with the storage and preservation methods. Garber (128) states that literature existed as early as the existence of human being, but they were not efficiently used and exploited. Considering this, it is worth saying that literature was in existence even before the recognition by people as being an effective platform of passing information from one generation to the other and as a tool for educating the societies. Literature, therefore, helped in the formation and creation of awareness of the humanity.

Literature is powerful, but it is not possible to measure the extent of its influence. From the initial stories, it was possible to guide individuals to collaborate diverse situations and come up with a solution that was beneficial to people that were existing in those given eras. Humankind and literature coexisted together with the aim of making sense to the lives of people, and the elimination of either of them affects the existence of the other. Hume (98) argues that literature is encompassed or expressed through tragedies, inspirations, and feelings that are situated in individuals without taking into consideration of whether they recognize literature and its embodies or not, meaning that it continues to determine the lives of all individuals whether they recognize it or not.

Literature led to the emergence and development of different faiths and beliefs that currently exist in various communities across the globe. They were created through different mediums including tales, fables, stories and the accounts of varying past happenings. This, therefore, means that literature has a great significance and power in the faith and religion enjoyed by individuals from different cultural backgrounds from which various religions including Christianity are developed. Religion and beliefs make people recognize the existence of a superior being who controls all processes in the universe. This comes through literature that was produced by other individuals who existed generations ago. Through literature, it has become possible for individuals to recognize and appreciate the creation divinities without seeing or feeling but through trusting the works of earlier scholars. Literature has been powerful in feeding information to individuals and at the same time cultivating the living mystery of persons.

Research by Bennett, Andrew, and Nicholas Royle (81) shows that agitators have been using literature as a tool for revolutionary relating to social differences and injustices across the world especially in the political arena to the point of developing genocides depending on the biased manner of its creation. It is possible to control the flow literature and energy of people through different modes such as writing or oral communication since persons that are recognized as examples in a community are in most cases described as being heroes or warriors in the selection and application of their wordings. Garber (137) perceptively argues that literature can be useful to individuals based on the responsibility that individual wishes to take in his or her community and in consideration of whether a person is willing to play that role for his or her gain or the welfare of the society. Literature has been recognized as having the potential of shaping the different occurrences in a region and can be applied efficiently if it campaigns for the equality of all individuals especially regarding rights without taking much consideration on the creed, race among other determinants including the political background of an individual. This, therefore, means that literature exists in all societies and people cannot control its existence whether they are literate or not. Leitch and William (59) record that, since literature was there since the historical periods, it is not possible to bring to an end despite how influential individuals in the society are. The existence of people, literature and the world is connected to one another and therefore, as long as world and people continue existing, it is not possible to eliminate the existence of literature.

Hume (113) argues that, if literal works can be applied as an instrument of developing helpful impacts that shape, direct and influence the values and beliefs of people in the society, it can be argued that people can misdirect the same literature leading to the creation of disparities in the society. Distortion of literature can lead to misrepresentation of the desires of the community as it passed from one age group to the other. Changing the meaning and the intention of the literature can help to meet the wishes of a particular group while at the same time distorting the intended message to the rest members of the society. Disparities can start being seen from different corners including religion. It is possible for people to start believing and taking the direction of the manipulated literature especially when they are unable to make consideration and correct their ways and attempt to come up with standard information and content. It is essential for people to take into account the content of the literature to be in a position to take what is relevant or suit their needs while neglecting the parts they feel to be distorted or the ones that do not correspond to their needs. Manipulation of individuals especially through literal works has been an ongoing phenomenon that can be seen more clearly through media platform that has been a critical component in the environment of literature that has been effective in spreading manipulated information and propaganda to people. Also, advancement in technology has been changing the influence or work of literature especially in the modern days making it continue developing and spreading without considering its level of distortion. However, despite the distortion, literature has been recognized as a reliable and powerful tool that has been helpful educating and creating awareness among people in different social settings.

Work Cited

Bennett, Andrew, and Nicholas Royle. An introduction to literature, criticism and theory. Routledge, 2016.

Garber, Marjorie. The use and abuse of literature. Vintage, 2011.

Hume, Kathryn. Fantasy and Mimesis (Routledge Revivals): Responses to Reality in Western Literature. Routledge, 2014.

Leitch, Vincent B., and William E. Cain, eds. The Norton anthology of theory and criticism. WW Norton & Company, 2010.

Stephens, John, and Robyn McCallum. Retelling stories, framing culture: traditional story and metanarratives in children's literature. Routledge, 2013.

May 24, 2023


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