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Stories? We all spend our lives telling them, about this, about that, about people. . . But some? Some stories are so good we wish they’d never end. They’re so gripping that we’ll go without sleep just to see a little bit more. Some stories bring us laughter and sometimes they bring us tears. . . but isn’t that what a great story does? Makes you feel?
– Dustin Hoffman
A story can be true, a story can be false, it can be whatever the storyteller makes it and that is a type of power which some people still fear today. There are many who still restrict their children from reading novels or watching certain television shows, and even still, there are those who hear or see the word fiction and roll their eyes. We aren’t here to criticize or insult those individuals since everyone has a right to live their lives how they wish along with having their own opinion. However, we are here to hopefully highlight and provide some enlightenment on the importance in which fiction holds.
Firstly, just what makes fiction so important to people? Of course, there’s the idea that fiction provides individuals with an opportunity to escape and it’s most likely that many individuals would agree that. When things are tough, all it takes is picking up a good book or sitting in front of the TV and diving into a fantasy world of your choosing and suddenly – for even a moment – all the problems of ones’ reality are gone. In addition to this, this escapism theory is also a reason which is both similar yet different. With fiction, whether it be books, movies or TV shows, we can embark on epic adventures filled with mystery and danger whilst never leaving the comfort of our own bedrooms or wherever you enjoy reading. There are many reasons why fiction is incredibly great and the list truly is endless. The importance of it is something that cannot be stressed enough and there are even studies carried out by psychologists which shows that expanding ones’ imagination with stories and the possibilities and opportunities which they offer is advantageous to the individuals’ health.
So why would anyone feel the need to shut themselves away and deny themselves or others the incredulous tales which are provided to us through fiction? It’s most likely that you know someone of the sort and as I said before, we’re not here to judge, but it is merely an attempt to coax them into acceptance. Anyone who is out there and reading this who doesn’t see the good in fictional worlds and characters in books, you truly do not know what you are missing. Does the attempt to draw non-fiction lovers in sound almost familiar? Perhaps it’s a conversation that you’ve had with someone or perhaps you’re a fan of the TV show, Once Upon a Time. The following is a quote taken from Season 1, Episode 17 entitled ‘Hat Trick’:
Emma Swan: This is it. This is the real world.
Jefferson/Mad Hatter: A real world. How arrogant are you to think yours is the only one? There are infinite more. You have to open your mind. They touch one another, pressing up in a long line of lands, each just as real as the last. All have their own rules. Some have magic, some don’t. And some need magic. Like this one.
In this particular scene, Emma Swan (portrayed by Jennifer Morrison) is given a reality check – pun intended – by the Mad Hatter (portrayed by Sebastian Stan). The words spoken by Stan’s character, Jefferson at this moment are somewhat harsh within the context of the show itself, but they are true to an extent and also have the ability to spark any fantasist with a sense of hope and wonder.
Hope and wonder are key elements to any story whether it be fiction or not, but magic? Magic is something else entirely. Magic is an element which gives fiction a bad reputation among some and an aspect of a story that will make others want to devour the story and never want it to end. One particularly well-known book series which manages to do just that is the Harry Potter series by J.K Rowling. Avoiding a biased opinion, it is understandable why some may believe the story is not for them and that choice must be respected. However, there are those out there who shun the books and movies alike because they are “too farfetched”, “too fanciful” and “merely a children’s story”. How wrong that is…
Keeping in mind the Harry Potter series is merely the example being used in this article and it does not necessarily mean the issue here does not apply to other works of fiction. That issue being that one can not simply judge a story so callously. Harry Potter – and indeed other fictional works – aren’t just about wand waving, potion brewing, imaginary creatures and imaginary locations. . . They are about so much more than that. They are about characters who much like us all spend their lives trying to figure out who they are and how they fit into the world they are in. They are about friendship, loyalty, and betrayal among other issues which affect us all in reality.
All of these things come together to make a great story, a great work of fiction in which fantastical and realistic factors come together effortlessly. It can be easily seen that fiction is a form of art which speaks to us individually and allows us as individuals to interpret whatever content it provides us with in our own unique way. Stories are just another means of allowing us to learn what it is to love, to lose, or to live…
Fiction helps to teach us what it is to be human.