Literature is an expression of society, using as its medium language, represents life and depicts some aspects of social reality. It has served many functions throughout history. It is a powerful tool which can be used to instruct the society, or can be used just for the enjoyment of the writer. The main function of writing literature is to amuse and instruct. The literary artist inevitably expresses his experience and total conception of life in his works. The writer in his fictional world projects a framework of values for individuals as well as for groups. A literary artist works like a reformer of society, whose works are like the gospels to his readers, which help them to become more understanding and mature. Therefore the literary artist must be the teacher and the preacher, as well as the amuser.
The moral vision is not a fixed or a single system. It changes with the society, religion and region. It may be so in the case of an unoriginal writer, someone who simply inscribes the conventional ethical values of a particular society. A powerful writer often seeks to examine the prevailing morality critically. He implicitly attacks the false and meaningless norms and conventions and suggests a revision of the commonly upheld ideas and standards. Therefore the writer’s moral nature remains a useful, and in fact ultimate, criterion.
In order to achieve the moral vision of a writer, the critic has to move below the plot and character and to discover the suggestions of moral values the author has attempted to project through his story. In some writers, the study of the moral vision is of prime importance because through their works they appear to be urging a revision of moral standards or moral frame-work which governs their contemporaries. Writers such as Alexander Pope, Dryden and Defoe forever changed the way writing was done. Each writer in their own way has had an impact on other writings, as well as approaches to looking and judging other writings.
The popular genre of literature, novel, is perhaps the broadest and least confined of all literary forms. Although, like other forms of literature, the prime aim of novel is largely to entertain, but its underlying aim is to help readers to understand life. It seems as a ‘vehicle’ for moral philosophy. It, not only, can teach people and help to shape the society, but also can make the reader a more understanding person, more tolerant and more sympathetic towards suffering. The novelist must certainly aim at being convincing and pleasing, but ultimately and unavoidably, the object of a novel should be to instruct in morals while it amuses.
The novel’s task is not only to reflect passively what is best in the values of contemporary society: it has to lead men hopefully from the pulpit towards the attainment of moral perfection. So novel helps people to endure and enjoy life. As George Brimley, reviewing Westward Ho! comments, novels can “conduct us through a wider range of experience than the actual life of each generally permits”. By making us live in the lives of others, fiction enables us to pass by sympathy into other minds and other circumstances. It is in this way that art can affect morality and make us wiser and large- hearted. Because of the high aims of fiction, the powers necessary to write it rank supreme among the gifts of the human race.
I enjoyed reading this. I really think it should be polished, updated with examples to illustrate some of the points your general reader might need more insight on, and then put into a hub.
I really like how you insist that the powerful writer is as much involved with moral instruction as entertainment. I would like to see more in the section about how and where the powerful writer's more effect moral stances come from. You do a good job of distinguishing subtle things. I'd love more on this topic.
Thanks for sharing.
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