We often ask ourselves, why do we need to study literature? We perpetually neglect this subject before our exams. We do not give much importance to it. That is not all. Students who pursue literature for higher studies are often looked down upon by the other streams, but we keep forgetting that a part of what we are today is because of literature. Outside our boring syllabus lagged stories and poems, there is a whole new world, that when explored will make you fall in love with literature. That being said let’s move on to, why we should study literature and how it helps us.
Studying literature opens up a world of inspiration and creativity along with developing skills that are essential for communication in today’s global environment. It makes us discover how literature makes sense of the whole world through stories, poems, novels, and plays. It also sharpens one’s ability to read, write, analyze, and persuade. Studying literature refines our day-to-day skills by expanding our vocabulary and enhancing our ability to communicate with people from different walks of life. For example, when we read a story or novel written by an African author, we become familiar with African culture, people, traditions, and history. We learn their way of life through their literature, as literature is nothing but a product or a representation of a particular timeline and its environment. Our horizons are broadened. We learn to understand people who are different from us from different communities.
When reading something, we come across and discover a variety of characters that we identify and relate with. This is a very exciting and validating process, to know that our exact thoughts and feelings have also been experienced by someone else. In other words, we find a friend in literature. It encourages us to be sensitive to different human experiences and to consider this while making decisions in our daily lives. It has a civilizing effect on people.
Literature through its forms makes us familiar with all kinds of worldly problems and pleasures. It takes the readers on a roller-coaster ride. You may read about anything and everything under the sun and hence, literature provides you with an overall knowledge of the world. While history tells us what people did; literature tells us what they were thinking. Poets and authors capture the universal human experience in their books. Literature unites readers with the universe.
Did you know that literature is used as a therapy? I bet you did not. Well, Bibliotherapy (also known as developmental Bibliotherapy) is the process of using books to help those suffering from mental disorders. Literature is often described as a form of art that disturbs the peace-minded and brings peace to the disturbed. Storybooks are known as great levelers and great healers. It allows one to experience situations vicariously, and compassionately think of a solution by putting themselves in the character’s place. Sympathy is merely emotional but empathy is highly intellectual. And literature evokes such human emotions.
Think of any great novel: Pride and Prejudice, David Copperfield, The Namesake – in all of these excellent novels we need empathy to fully appreciate them. It is this perception and insight that makes studying literature worthwhile. If a person can go beyond their own experiences and draw inspiration from literature, he/she will have better abilities to navigate in the real world. Therefore studying literature is equivalent to studying life.