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Imaginative Literature Historicall

Historically, imaginative literature has often been an object under attack. Plato warned his fellow Greeks that literature could rouse their emotions to too high an intensity. His recommendation was to throw the poets out of the republic. The Puritans who lived during the age of Shakespeare cautioned against the adverse effects of literature, especially drama. Tolstoy during his period of Christian conversion observed that literature was dangerous since it appealed to man's lowest instincts. Yet literature has not perished. Instead, it has flourished across the centuries. This essay will seek to defend literature by answering the following questions: Why is literature valuable? Why should we study it? How does it change our lives?

Literature is valuable because it offers us a rare chance at developing self-knowledge not readily available in other forms. In Ernest Hemingway's "Hills Like White Elephants" a man and a woman are confronted with an unexpected pregnancy. Hemingway introduces this fact slowly allowing his development to match both the way the character and the readers come to see what has happened and what should be done. The brilliance of Hemingway's short story is that he shows the tensions which develop between this couple through their dialogue. His short story reminds the reader that we all speak between the lines. For the man has decided that the woman should have an abortion. He is willing to keep talking about it obliquely, but she decides that sharing a beer would be less alienating. At the short story's end, the hills which look like white elephants and the train which the couple awaits have symbolically underscored the distance which grows between them. Only a literary effect could indicate that the isolation which the spot geographically suggests has expanded to include their psychic and now torn relationship. As a great modern writer one of Hemingway's gifts is to show things coming apart,...

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Imaginative Literature Historicall. (2000, January 01). In Retrieved 17:13, February 22, 2017, from