The society is affected with different challenges; social, political and economic. Literature has played important roles in revealing the challenges the society experiences. However, as a social platform, it becomes a tool in which people can use to share ideas of social challenges that affects the society. Literature therefore, becomes a mirror in which it reflects the evil in the society. As a social platform, literature becomes a property of the public; where it is owned by everyone. People interpret the society the way they perceive it and how it suits them. This paper will focus on the social functions of literature in the society with reference to Anton Chekhovs experience in Ward No. 6.
Every society faces common problems no matter the geographical location. In addition, the problems keep carrying on from generation to generation. And therefore, literature becomes the perfect tool that can be used to show the problems. What affects people in America is almost the same if not the same with what affects people in Asia or Africa. The issue of corruption, poverty, brutality, poor leadership is common in almost every state (Debreczeny, Paul, 1997). The work of literature show what the society is made of and interpret the society to a better way where one can understand his environment. Through literature people can understand the world in a better way. It is where people interact through reading. However, as a literature person one is able to critique any literary work according to their own understanding.
In addition, everyone has his own way of interpreting the environment the way they perceive it. For instance, Anton Chekhov in his experience in hospital, he perceive the hospital environment and interprets it how he could see it. Literature as a social platform functions as social media. It does not necessarily require us to be available at the place to be able to understand what is happening. Through how literary people interpret the environment, we can be able to understand the region without visual contact. For instance, people can understand the hospital environment in the way Chekhov express it. He explains that the roof of the hospital building is rusty, the chimney us tumbling down and the front door is almost closed with the overgrown grass (Anton Chekhov, 1892: 1). Through the description of the environment a reader from any part of the world can be able to have a vivid picture of the area without necessarily being available at the place. The way literary people express their opinions makes it easier for one to understand.
Literature is one of the perfect tools which can be used to store the historical events. Through literature people can read about what happened long time ago before they came to existence and relate it with what happens currently. Literature simplifies the vast world to us and through it we can be able to understand the world in a better way. Antons experience in hospital interprets the wide world for people. Corruption is not news to the current society but with the help of literature materials that existed before, people can perceive the world in a better way. Through literature we can be able to understand that most of these challenges facing the society now existed even there before, therefore the society should have the courage to deal with it. Literature provides hope and sometimes a solution to a long term problem. For example, if these problems existed before and people were able to overcome them, then even those that affect us now can be solved. It only requires us to approach the problems in different direction.
Literature arouses the emotions of the readers. Through reading literature, the readers can identify themselves with some of the characters in the story, in most cases those who show feelings towards their fellow characters. For example, in Chekhovs story about his experience in hospital readers can identify themselves with one the characters like Moiseika who is compassionate towards his fellow patients. Chekhov explains how Moiseika takes care of his neighboring patients; the way he feeds those who are paralyzed and not able to take care of themselves (Chekhov, 1892: 3). Through reading literary work one is able to release the suppressed emotions.
As a social platform, literature is able to improve the psychological developments of the reader. People read literature and as a result they gain new ideas and knowledge. Through reading, one is able to expand his knowledge and maybe change the way they used to perceive the society. Experience helps a lot to enhance better understanding. Chekhov shares his experience in hospital through writing and we can be able to identify ourselves with him. For instance, although we the readers we were not there during the incidence, but we can be able to picture what kind of suffering those patients were going through.
Literature as a social platform in most cases has been used to advocate for social reforms. Most of these challenges are common in every society. Literature can used to solve a problem that can be a great challenge somewhere else. In addition, literature can be used for social commentary in which it can satirize people and evil activities in the society. Chekhov explains his experience in hospital and his encounter with the patients. Chekhovs story incorporates the social commentary on the condition of the poor conditions the hospitals are in. Chekhov describes the condition of the hospital environment. For instance, he says that the condition in the hospital is only compared to that of the prison (Chekhov, 1892: 1).
Literature as a social platform plays the role of educating the readers or the public on important norms and values that the society highly regards. Although it does not explain what one should do but from the expression of ideas and the tone and mood of the story, the reader can just distinguish what society regards and despise. For example, from Chekhovs story of hospital experience one can distinguish what society expects such as being caring and compassionate towards others. A good example of the explanation in the story is the story about Moiseika and his interaction with other patients.
Literary people use different styles to explain the themes about the challenges in the society. Most of the literary works are used to criticize the evil in the society. However, in the process the literary people use styles to make the explanation neutral in which it does not turn out to offend anyone (Ezell, Margaret JM., 1988). The way Chekhov describes the hospital and the inhabitants only reveals the picture of the surrounding and does not hinder anyones right or privacy.
In conclusion, the paper has examined the social functions of literature and how literature functions as a social platform. Literature acts as the watchdog of the society in which it keeps the society to date of what takes place. Literature teaches the society and provides a way out to a problem because most of these challenges facing the society are common from one community to another. Therefore, the solution might be the same the difference is only how the problem is approached.
Debreczeny, Paul. Social Functions of Literature: Alexander Pushkin and Russian Culture. Stanford University Press, 1997.
Ezell, Margaret JM. "" To Be Your Daughter in Your Pen": The Social Functions of Literature in the Writings of Lady Elizabeth Brackley and Lady Jane Cavendish." The Huntington Library Quarterly (1988): 281-296.
Selsky, John W., and Barbara Parker. "Cross-sector partnerships to address social issues: Challenges to theory and practice." Journal of Management 31.6 (2005): 849-873.
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