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Can fiction help in emotional development?


Fiction or stories do make an impact on the reader’s mind. Reading fiction exposes the reader to new psychology and a whole new world. The tale attaches emotionally to the readers. It, thus, develops emotional skills. Literary fiction readers are able to understand others’ feelings better.

Literary identification

Laura Morgan Green wrote a book on literary identification. It was “Literary Identification: From Charlotte Bronte to Tsitsi Dangrembga”. She holds the chair of the Department of English at Northeastern University. Her book says about the bond between readers and fictional characters.

Green highlighted certain significant features. One of them is the measurement of the theory of mind. It is the ability to understand the feelings of others. The other is reading the mind in the eyes. It means looking into the eyes and depicting the emotions. The study showed people who read fiction performed better on such lab tests.

There is an emphasis on literary identification too. There is an emotional connection. The readers, characters, and authors share it. It is similar to Bildungsroman. For instance, situations of fictional characters feel similar to them. As a result, they connect with fiction’s development too.

How does fiction help?

Reading fiction allows relating to other characters. Thus, the dilemmas of the character develop the ability to understand. Readers can handle situations better. Hence, one can take other people’s points of view seriously. In short, it builds empathy too.

Victorian novelists like Charles Dickens, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy have a deep impact on their readers. Therefore, their work impacts the readers to be empathetic towards the vulnerable. There was an emphasis on social groups and social issues too. Labour abuse, exploitation, oppression of women, etc were highlighted. Thus, British literature in the 17th century was considered as the heyday of English novels.

Fictions hit our emotions with certain scenes and grab our attention. Therefore making us think deeply and bond with the scenes. It isn’t sure whether the effects are long-lasting, found in real-life behaviour, or not. However, fiction is a remarkable work of imagination and creativity. So, reading fiction does help in emotional development.


Arpita Priyadarshinee