What form of literature serves society better, works which pioneer new societal values or works which reflect society's values?

Essay by adelbHigh School, 12th gradeA+, February 2006

download word file, 2 pages 0.0

Downloaded 34 times

New social values are oftentimes presented in radical literary works. While such literature is more stimulating and entertaining to the audience, it is futile to try and determine if it serves society better than conservative forms which merely reflect society's values.

Approach any piece of literature with suspicion. Whether it is a novel or a news report, it is only the product of a human mind and therefore never objective. Take it with a grain of salt and put it not only in the context of contemporary and previous events, but also of future aims: Who is the writer? What does he want? Who is financing him or her? What's on the agenda? What is the message? But don't bother asking if social change is being advocated or not because the substance is more important than the form; an idea can be relayed in different forms and the same work is sometimes perceived as being of different form, by different social groups.

For example, the current issue of embracing marijuana use in Canadian society. Its literary proponents can either be seen as pioneering new social values for daring to even suggest such a notion (parents of teenage kids are horrified), or as simply reflecting the actual situation as it exists on the street, since a large portion, if not the majority, of today's individuals smoke marijuana regardless of its legality (dude, welcome to the present).

There are countless other examples that show the frivolousness of trying to categorize literature as being pro-change or just a reflection of current values, since society is rarely homogenous, thus making it a purely relative and personal matter.

Even Shakespeare's literature could not be clearly sorted out. In Henry V, the king is first portrayed as narcissistic, cranky, war-like and unable to handle criticism. This...