Literature Compassionate Imagination and Their Place in Education
Before negative things occur, tragedies already acquaint citizens about the bad things which may happen in life.
Men, for example, are tasked to identify not just with characters they can become such as generals, slaves, exiles and beggars but also with individuals they can never be like mothers, wives and daughters. Similarities and differences are explored by drama through such devices. These devices help the audience picture how similar or different they are to the characters and help them examine the scenarios they are in and the situations they can encounter.
Literature is depicted as a piece of life and should also give voice to the plight of the “silenced people.”
Since literature is defined as a piece of life, it also gives space for the voice of "silenced people," people who have not always been respected in society—women, racial minorities, homosexuals, the poor and the powerless. Jose Rizal shows this point clearly in his depiction of Crispin and Basilio and their mother Sisa in his novel Noli Me Tangere. Crispin and Basilio are altar servers who were maltreated by the senior sacristan (sacristan mayor). The two were suspected to have stolen from the Church collection and were beaten by the latter. Crispin, the younger of the two, dies in the process. Upon hearing of the news, Sisa, their mother, herself a battered wife, went crazy. This is a fitting side story to the travails of the erstwhile merchant Simon against the upper class of his society which included friars and nobles.
Literature should disturb us. Nussbaum states that to allow inside one's mind people who seem alien and frightening is to show a capacity for openness and responsiveness that goes against the grain of many cultural stereotypes of self-sufficiency. The central role of art is to challenge conventional wisdom and values. It is essential to put the study of literature at the heart of a curriculum for citizenship because it develops arts of interpretation that are vital for civic participation and awareness.
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