A Conceptual Relation Between Literature And Morality

There are two schools of thought holding opposite views about literature or art in general. The view of the moralists, philosophers and puritans is that the writer does influence the lives and character of his readers while the view of aesthetes, who believe in the theory of art for Art’ sake is that the writer must never try to influence his readers.

Literature And Morality

The theory of art for Art’s sake came into prominence in the nineteenth century in France. Gautier was its important champion who believed that Art is not merely amoral, but anti-moral. Walter Pater could claim to be the major prophet of English Aestheticism. Pater’ heir was Oscar Wilde, who went a good deal further. He remarked; “There is no such thing as a moral or immoral book. Books are well written or badly written; that is all.”

The theory that Literature or Art has a moral purpose at present hold the field. Plato and Aristotle both lay emphasis on the moral value of literature. Sir Philip Sidney argued, that literature can do more to make men finer than the philosopher, in his Apologia for a view to “justifying the way of God to man”. Dryden expressed view of moral value of Literature. Words worth remarked: “I am nothing if not a teacher”. Keats also wrote also in “Sleep and Poetry” that the great end of poetry is that it should be a friend to soothe the cares and lift the thoughts of men. And in Hyperion he said that only those can be true poets “to whom the miseries of the world are miseries, and will not let them rest.”

Bernard show remarked: “Art for Art’s sake means merely success for Moeny’s sake….Good art is never success for Monday’s own sake. It is too difficult to be worth the effort! There is an element of exaggeration on both sides. The main purpose of literature is given aesthetic pleasure, but it is wrong to call it anti-moral or amoral. On the other hand, the business of the literary artist is not to teach, but to exhibit.

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  1. BUSHRA GHAYOOR Oct 29, 2016