How is literature the mirror of society?

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boomer-sooner | College Teacher | (Level 1) Associate Educator

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     Literature is a mirror of society because it gives an image, but the image is not necessarily a true image.  The image can be distorted in reality or perceived as distorted by society as a whole. 

     Literature tends to focus on subjects current to societal engagement.  This type of reflection is observed in many different time periods.  Two dramatic pieces focusing on African-American history and struggle, "A Raisin in the Sun" (1959) and Roots (1976) were written during a period of great civil strife in American society.  Similarly, other famous authors of recent note such as Tom Clancy are successful because their books deal with intrigue, national security and terrorism which are all on the forefront of the American mindset.

     Literature can also be distorted by the perception of society looking into the mirror.  For example, political commentary has always been a huge part of literature whether covert comments on life through drama or overt attacks on the political mechanism.  These commentaries are often partisan in their attacks and represent a distorted view of society in the mirror, focusing on what the author perceives as a scar.

     The mirror literature provides will continue to expose society to views not seen from our place within.  We may see scars of political rhetoric, exposed to struggles, or only focus on the beauty of poetry highlighting the best of society. 

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