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Should art and literature be moralizing?
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Entertainment should not contain moral or political agendas

Literature and art should not have a moral, political, or philosophical agenda because the purpose of art is to entertain, rather than teach a lesson or probe certain issues.
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The Argument

Literature is an art form, and art’s primary function is to entertain. Novels, in particular, are a form of escapism, and there is a higher demand for this escapism given that we’re now living in the age of technology, where we’re constantly bombarded with negative information to the point where we feel overwhelmed, overloaded, and burnt out. Since we’re more aware of the political and social turmoil occurring in our communities, “the escape offered by the novel is no longer from the banalities of life but from our own compulsive and exhausting scrutiny.” For this reason, novels should not attempt to be moralizing, or strive to teach any political or moral lesson, as our daily lives are already oversaturated with opinions, judgments, and debates. In addition, literature is not the correct platform for presenting moral or political lessons because its ineffective. People are less likely to accept or engage with ideas presented to them through literature because they may feel as if the author has no right to appropriate a medium meant for carefree entertainment and use it as a platform to preach their own personal beliefs. In addition, “not only does moral preoccupation corrupt the artfulness of fiction, but fiction is an inefficient and insincere vehicle for moralizing. If an author’s motive is to impart a lesson, he would be better off writing a manifesto or publishing a pamphlet and distributing it free on the subway. Novels are, by their very nature, slow. It takes a long time to read a book — longer than looking at a painting or listening to a song. And of course writing one takes even longer. If you are a person whose aim in life is to spread the gospel of good, writing about the inner lives of people who do not exist is a bad use of time.” People are more likely to look for political or social guidance from people who are not artists, such as politicians or activists or other public figures that are deemed more qualified. Writers should not attempt to step into the political arena, as it makes the clear and efficient disseminating and expressing of political ideas more complicated.

Counter arguments

Animal Farm by George Orwell is an example of a highly successful fictional novel that was a political allegory for the Russian Revolution and Stalinism. The combined fable and political satire is often included in American high school curriculums because it offers a simplified explanation of the basic principles of Stalinism and the animalistic nature of mob mentality. Similarly, he wrote another novel titled 1984, which focuses on a fictional account of a dystopian society in which freedom of speech and expression is strictly curtailed and citizens are indoctrinated by oppressive propaganda. Orwell was inspired to write 1984 after watching totalitarian dictators such as Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin rise to power throughout Europe in the 1940s and wrote the novel to show readers what could potentially occur if they allowed their governments to dictate how their citizens think and behave. The end result would be mass surveillance, indoctrination, and manipulation. By writing fictional novels, rather than political essays, Orwell was able to contextualize and express his beliefs in a manner that was engaging, attention-grabbing, and accessible to a wide audience of average Americans who wouldn't have been interested in, or able to understand, political jargon. In this case, the medium of a fiction novel was perfect for spreading Orwell's particular belief system. In addition, literature is always subjective, and some individuals might have different opinions on what the purpose of literature is. There is no general consensus that it must be used purely for entertainment purposes.


Rejecting the premises


This page was last edited on Wednesday, 26 Aug 2020 at 05:35 UTC

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