Does Fiction Promote Empathy Essay Example

Empathy is something that we face every single day of our lives. It takes ahold of our conversations, decisions, and a lot of times, it can alter our mindset. Some people have questioned empathy and if it really makes a difference in our world, but one of the most pondered questions is how it affects our lives in different environments; especially in aspects that we wouldn't even think about. Suppose that you are reading a book, and the main character shows a lack of empathy, would you even think about it? Many people don't; in fact, they don't even realize the character showed apathy and just move on. But isn't it strange how empathy happens to appear in places that you would never expect it to be? For that reason, the question that people should really ponder is if fiction promotes empathy.

Now, some people like to call empathy a 'narrow-minded' emotion, as mentioned in the article "Empathy Is Actually a Choice"; but most believe it to be a feeling that we use to extend ourselves to others in need of a friend. However, empathy can also be used as a way to share our happiness and love with each other; not only in literature, but in film as well. An author named Paul Thagard even said, "My favorite novels, plays, and films all include at least one character whom I can empathize with to some extent." Most would agree since literature, especially fiction, always has characters that promote empathy. A lot of the time, even villains in certain books or films can be empathizing at some point in a given scene.

Empathy is an Emotion that You Share With Others

Many things can be said about empathy, but people must know what it really is in order to experience an empathizing moment. According to Dr. Hatter, empathy is when you are able to transform yourself into the shoes of someone else; to understand the problems and circumstances that they experience from their perspective. Though this definition will vary depending on who you ask, it usually doesn't stray too far away from what Dr. Hatter said. Empathy is essentially just an emotion that you share with one another, you are never able to experience empathy all on your own - and that's the most special thing about it. Whether it be with characters in a book, or people in real life, it's an emotion that you can't miss out on; especially in fiction.

A book written by Angie Thomas, "The Hate U Give", promotes empathy and exposes people to what can happen when there is a lack of empathy, especially how it can occur in our modern world. "The Hate U Give" is a book about a girl, Starr Carter, who faces a large setback when her black best friend is shot by a white police officer. In many scenes in the book, there is a lack of empathy shown, and there are always consequences afterward. This insinuates that if we continue to show apathy to the people around us, we will get the same in return, and our world will fall into a realm of chaos. In layman's terms, Angie Thomas is trying to tell the world that everything gets back to us. However, this book also examines the outcomes of when empathy is shown towards one another. For instance, one scene in the book is when Starr is discussing the situation with her white boyfriend, Chris. He empathizes with Starr on the situation and how she's feeling about it. This ultimately ends up with them becoming closer with each other. That being said, Thomas is not only showing us the consequences of apathy, but also the positive outcomes of empathy.

Does Fiction Promote Empathy?

So now, the question if fiction is using empathy comes into play. Is literature, specifically fiction, promoting empathy for its audience? Are we, as readers, learning more about how to be empathetic just by reading fiction books? We could ponder these questions for days, but the answer to them is simple and conclusive; empathy is what we make it out to be. If we can relate to a situation that a character is going through during a certain part of a book, than we can also empathize with them. It is mainly about a certain person's mindset and what they think empathy really is. The truth is, the definition of empathy is different for everyone, and that's what makes it one of the most powerful emotions in the world. Empathy is all around us; you just need to focus on the bigger picture.


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