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The Reason for Our Deep Entanglement and Fascination With Stories

Updated on August 24, 2018
Tumaris Hone profile image

Tumaris is a second year English major at the University of California, Davis.


Discovering The Unfamiliar World Within Stories

We often wonder where our deep fascination with the entertainment industry originates. When we immerse ourselves in the thousands of novels, movies, and dramas, a handful intrigues us. But the reason for our deep entanglement with their storyline is not always clear. Still, there must be a reason our marvelous awe consumes us. Perhaps, we create our own mystery within the storyline. We feel this need to unravel the enigma. And during our search for answers, our moral perspective is challenged and sometimes transformed.

For instance, think of a memorable story. It may have been the relatable characters, the fascinating scenery, or the down to earth plotline that caught your attention. But for some it could be the unimaginable portrayal of character. Their villainous deeds arouses our sense of morality. We feel the injustice, the anger, and the pain, and through these emotions, we find ourselves lost in the character’s ways. We find their actions unfamiliar and unimaginable because the level of inequity is so great. We feel removed from our own comfortable world and the kind people we are surrounded by. Thoughts like, “how can a person like this exist, how can a world such as this exist?” comes to mind. It is this mystery we create, one the author may not even intend to have. We are thrown in a painful and angry situation lost in the complexity of the character’s mindset. Amidst this inner chaos, we search for the cause behind their actions to alleviate us from the unfamiliarity and complexity of the situation. But what we may find at the end of the search could challenge and transform our preconceptions of the character, granting us a new perspective in a way that leads us to question our own moral principles.

In application, I remember one significant story, where an eight year old child faces gruesome abuse from her mother’s boyfriend. We have heard this story before from the news or the internet. But what caught my eyes was the boyfriend’s unfamiliar yet complex mentality. He resents children who are noisy, dirty, and cry. He warns them not to perform those actions or he kills them. As part of the audience, I felt sorrow and anger for the eight year old child. My morals were shaken, and I sought an end to him. But simultaneously, I felt lost in the injustice and unfamiliarity of the situation. I needed to understand “how a person like him can exist.” I created this mystery to alleviate the feeling of perplexity and gain a vision of the world the characters are in. The feeling of finally understanding everything is rewarding and often mind blowing.

For example, when I learned of the abuser’s backstory, I began to see the entire picture. The boyfriend, once upon a time a child, had a single mother. He was often loud, dirty and crying, Familiar? His mother had a hard time and dies because of it. Thought his backstory ends here, the connection is clear. The boyfriend kills children that mirror himself. Evidently, he resents his eight year old self. By killing these children, it is as if he is “killing” his young self. In the end, the boyfriend commits suicide, confirming my analysis. Thus, the mystery is solved.

I am no longer bewildered in an unfamiliar world. Instead, I feel a surge of pride and self satisfaction. The blindfold dropped, and I can see a whole new perspective: the boyfriend’s. This is the reward granted to us by the many intriguing and page turning storylines. Of course, my moral principles were challenged during this scene as well. I resented and condemned the abuser. Anyone with good moral standards will not think twice to sympathize with such a villain, but seeing the whole picture, I felt pity for his eight year old self; my morals shook. Plotlines which challenge our moral principles are ones we naturally find intriguing and fascinating, regardless of whether we stick with them or not.

To explain our deep entanglement with certain movies and dramas over others, this is my theory. We follow a process; first, the feeling of unimaginable injustice throws us into a world of unfamiliarity and ignites a need to trace its origins in order to alleviate us from it. We find ourselves in our self-made mystery. In our mission to unravel the truth, we gain a new perspective- enough to challenge our morals, and the knowledge we find at the end is often mind blowing and rewarding.

On a lighter note, there is another story, one we can possibly relate to a little more. This is about a man who cheats on his wife. Of course, this is nothing new, so why is it fascinating? It is indeed a beautiful marriage until the death of their child. At that point, the relationship down spirals. The wife loses all compassion, she becomes cold. The husband finds her unapproachable and cruel, so he falls in love with someone else. His wife begs him to end the affair, but despite their pleas, they divorce. After five years, her ex-husband discovers she has lost her memory and the cold and bitter personality with it. What happens next is astonishing; he gradually falls in love with his ex-wife.

I personally became enraged by the husband’s injustice towards his wife, changing his mind as if it meant nothing to him. “How can a person like this exist,” I asked myself. The mystery kicked in, and I realized, his wife became the same person with whom he fell in love with in the beginning: the happy, cheerful girl. This conclusion ended my bewilderment with the man’s affair. I escaped this world of unfamiliarity and began to see his perspective; that is when people change, they are no longer the same person you had love for. So perhaps the husband is understandable, maybe he is not all too bad of a man after all, my moral principles shook. Slowly, I can unravel the complexity of relationships, and understand a world I am not yet immersed in: marriage. Again, I learned of something quite fascinating, hence my heart is feels attached to the storyline.

In conclusion, there are a universe of reasons we may feel consumed by a novel or movie. But this pattern of injustice and a need to trace its origins to escape the unfamiliarity of the world we are thrown in, is a prominent explanation for our entanglement. I would like to confess, those who consider novels and especially movies trivial, it is these storylines which open our eyes to see a world that was once unknown to us.

© 2018 Tumaris Hone


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    • centfie profile image


      21 months ago from Kenya

      Interesting article. I am personally fascinated with novels because they take me to another world where I can get lost in, more so if they are well-written.


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