Novels As A Replacement For Experiences

Essay by EssaySwap ContributorHigh School, 11th grade February 2008

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Alexander Solzhenitsyn once said, "Good literature substitutes for an experience we have not ourselves lived through." At times when we read a work of literature, it may seem as though we are taken from reality to the location of the character and allowed to connect and have a great understanding of whatever experience the author put the characters through. This is true in the novel by Nathaniel Hawthorne titled The Scarlet Letter. Although the story did tell of experiences had by certain characters and gave us some insight of what it may be like go through what they went I would have to partly disagree with the quotation.

To explain my decision I would have to begin with another quote. "In fact, nobody - but nobody - can experience our lives for us; nobody can feel for us the pain that life inevitably brings…" This was said by Charlotte Joko Beck in Everyday Zen.

I feel this quote is fitting for this essay because Nathaniel Hawthorne is most likely basing the emotions his characters have in the story to experiences and knowledge he has collected in his life. The novel does bring out many experiences and emotions, some having to do with secrecy, confession and revenge among other things. To get the one-sided substitute experiences you must sympathize with one of the characters in the story. Had you connected with Hester Prynne, you might be able to see just how difficult it might be to be ostracized by your town and you had to wear a scarlet letter your entire life there. If you connected with Dimmesdale you may begin to see how it feels to be the target for revenge and having to feel great guilt and shame for something you did. Finally if you connected with...