Some aspects of human experience include interpersonal communication, love and hatred, employment, recreation, education, self-care, intimate relationships, sufferings, death etc. Literature offers an opportunity not only to evaluate human experience, but also to learn more about the major aspects of human experience and apply this knowledge in practice. Many writers and poets share their ideas about the meaning of life through the use of specific literary language, stylistic devices, and imagery. A large amount of what people experience in their lives is directly related to the environment they live in. Thus, in many literary works, the main characters face oppression, aggression, the lack of mutual understanding and social support. Chekhov, Faulkner, Gilman, Joyce, Walker and many other writers pay special attention to the role of human nature is solving the existing problems, as well as the role of interpersonal relationships which often lead to downfall. Due to literature, readers have a chance to explore such human virtues as morality, courage, empathy, self-determination, wisdom, etc. According to Pamela Gossin (2002), “the attempt to capture the human experience is quintessentially the task of literature”(p. 135). This fact means that human experience is explored in literature because literature is nature writing. Human experience found in literary works reflects the levels of veracity in relation of humans’ interaction with their surroundings.
The major goal of this paper is to address some specific aspects of the human experience as it is defined in several works of literature from the readings assigned throughout the course.
Discussion of some aspects of human experiences through literary works
In the story “Misery” written by Anton Chekhov, readers explore the theme of despair and misery. The author describes the surroundings that make the main character, Iona Potapov, a miserable person. Iona Potapov needs to discuss his troubles, his son’s death with others, but no one listens to her. Therefore, she prefers to speak with his horse. Actually, in many situations, human feelings and emotions overwhelm people, especially when they have to manage with the death of a loved one. As a rule, guilt, blame, and denial reflect human nature and experiences that are caused by death of a loved one. Undoubtedly, Iona faced lack of social support and lack of mutual understanding in the setting he was placed in.
In the short story “A Rose for Emily” by William Faulkner, readers investigate the aspects of human experience that refer to interpersonal relationships. The author tells the story of Emily Grierson, and her relationships with her father, the man she was in love with and the community members of the town of Jefferson, she lived in. Emily lives in her own world and follows her own principles. She ignores public opinion and refuses to communicate with others. In general, the author wants his readers to learn what a person feels when he/she lives in isolation, both physical and emotional.
In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s short story “The Yellow Wallpaper”, readers are offered an opportunity to evaluate the role of feminism and individuality in family context. The author describes the negative effects of a woman’s neurosis and her psychological state that are characterized by her encounters with the yellow wallpaper in her room. Readers explore human experience that reflects the relations between a husband and a wife, a physician and a patient. In fact, the woman suffers from her husband’s therapy. Gilman believes the dominance men exert over women “for their own good,” can be viewed as emerge as humiliation that leads to mental problems.
In “Araby” by James Joyce, readers explore the theme of immaturity which leads to the discovery of a disappointing reality and destruction of the pure ideals of the main character. As a matter of fact, the boy changes his nature from idealist, who lived in the community, he treated with contempt, to the so-called separated realist, whose ideas and dreams are proved nonexistent. The boy had to change his attitude towards his environment.
These short stories provide an insight to human experiences, emphasizing the role of human nature and personal characteristics. Stuart Weeks (2010) states that “literature is solely and explicitly rooted in human experience”(p. 115). In “Mending Wall” by Robert Frost, “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T. S. Eliot, “Daddy” by Sylvia Plath, “Before the Mirror” by John Updike, “On the Amtrak from Boston to New York City” by Sherman Alexie and many other literary works, readers continue to expand their knowledge on the major aspects of human experiences. In fact, each author is unique in his exploration of human nature.
Thus, it is necessary to conclude that literary works help readers to evaluate the major aspects of human experience. Authors pay special attention to the psychological interpretation of literature. They develop the most common themes, such as the theme of love and hatred, the theme of misery and despair, the theme of isolation, the theme of immaturity, etc. The authors and readers create meaning from the text through their own interpretation of events and evaluation of the major causes that lead to ups and downs of the main characters.
Gossin, P. (2002). Encyclopedia of Literature and Science. Greenwood Publishing Group.
Weeks, S. (2010). An Introduction to the Study of Wisdom Literature. Continuum.