Expert ArticleSchool Stories

Stories, Individuals, and Society: How Literature Instills Emotional Empathy

  • 16 November 2022

We live around the world of stories, we are made of stories, and our existence is defined by stories- all past, present, and future. Without stories, our world would be mechanical in every sense of the word. It is the presence of stories that makes the mundanity of life much more interesting. To quote Joan Didion, ‘We tell ourselves stories in order to live’. Understanding the importance of both oral and written literature, it becomes important to integrate the same into the curriculum. In this regard, it is essential for us to know how literature instills emotional empathy among students. 

 

Oscar Wilde said “That is part of the beauty of all literature. You discover your longings are universal longings, you are not lonely and isolated from anyone. You belong.” Indeed, Wilde is highlighting the sense of community that literature inculcates among the readers. One does not feel isolated from the world but rather gets unified in terms of experiences and emotions. While a lot of criticism has been levied against literature being escapist in nature, words from Lloyd Alexander aptly define it as “Fantasy is hardly an escape from reality. It’s a way of understanding it.” This is to say that literature manifests reality rather than moving the reader away from it. 

 

In a study carried out by psychologists David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano at the New School for Social Research in New York, the findings highlighted that reading fiction enhances the ability to understand, detect, and empathize with other’s emotions. Being the most vital skill in exploring social-emotional relationships, this helps individuals transition into becoming kind adults. In this way, books are essential for students to inculcate many different qualities. They can learn the aspect of inclusion and equality through stories like ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’, whereas multiple instances in ‘Harry Potter’ help them grasp the importance of friendship, companionship, equality, etc.  Along the same lines, the majority of Neil Gaiman’s fiction aims to instill bravery and empathy among the readers. Here are different ways through which literature instills empathy and emotional quotient among the student: 

 

  • Readers of fiction relate to the world around them in a much better way. The reading experience extends beyond the pages. 
  • Readers exercise cognitive empathy when engaging with the book. If they empathize with the characters in the book, they by default empathize with the people around them. 
  • The process of reading in itself delineates one from reality. This disassociation helps one to better analyze and understand the state-of-affairs from a distance. 
  • Besides this, a motto that always works for all the readers is ‘the more you read, the better you write’. Reading enables creativity among individuals of all age groups, thereby nurturing them into becoming artists. 

 

At Oakridge, Gachibowli stories form an integral part of our curriculum. We believe in Maya Angelou’s words “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you” and help students find a creative outlet to their voice. We not only help students to see a work of art away from the author, but also facilitate a platform to uleash their creativity. In this regard, the halls of Oakridge become a  thriving hub of ideas and a budding ground for stories, where the seeds of creativity are manifested. 

 

-Shriyanshi Shukla 

Manager (Communications) 

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