LITERATURE REFLECTS HUMAN VALUES
Ms D Krishna Kumari Sr Lecturer in English Mrs AVN College, Visakhapatnam
Human being is the finest creation of god and he should always make good efforts to save its existence on the earth. “The first step in the evolution of ethics is a sense of solidarity with other human being”(3). Albert Sihwetze. The human world has got a remarkable history. We have made tremendous advancements and innovations scientifically and technologically. But are we satisfied with the present state of affairs? Are we leading a peaceful and harmonious life? The more we are growing scientifically and technologically, the more we are degenerating as human beings. Inspite of our amazing and astonishing evolution from Stone Age to modern age, we are still living in chaos and total confusion. We are still faced with serious problems like communal conflict, terrorism and violence leading to insecurity. All this is a proof of that something is missing in the human world which enables human beings to live in harmony and that is human values. By practicing human values one can experience ideal world. Human values are universal and are very important considerations to take into account when interacting with other people. They play a dominant role in establishing peace and in protecting the society, along with knowledge and intelligence. Values like Trust, Love, Respect, Honesty, justice, friendliness, and teamwork can help people deal with situations today. To follow these values is very essential at present. In a society when technology is growing in leaps and bounds it is very important to practice/use value to make life enjoyable and rewarding.
Human values are the principles, standards, convictions and beliefs that people adopt as their guidelines in daily activities. They are a set of consistent measures and behaviours that individuals choose to practice in the pursuit of doing what is right or what is expected of them by the society. Almost all the laws and legislation are framed on the basis of human values – especially love, peace, justice and care for one another and being mindful of the environment, including plants and animals are very important values. These values are passed from one generation to another. Leaders people in influential position, teachers, doctors, lawyers, politicians, business people and other professionals need to have strong human values. The purpose of human beings is to live and let live others in continuous peace and happiness. This truth has been completely ignored in our present world view. Happiness is perceived in terms of maximization of wealth and accumulation of more and more physical facilities. This misconception is leading to serious problems in all walks of life. We need to change from this ‘animal consciousness’ to ‘human consciousness’. This forms the basis for value – based living.
As M.K. Gandhi said,
“Your beliefs become your thoughts Your thoughts become your words Your words become your actions Your actions become your habits Your habits become your values Your values become your destiny”. (4)
We have progressed in terms of taking literacy to all corners of the society. In olden days it was limited to a selected few has now got spread to the masses. Girls and boys, both are able to attain education. But, we need to relook at the content of education and the effects of this content on the living of human beings. Education of today is giving career but not life. As Swami Vivekananda said – “Education is the manifestation of perfection already in man”. Shaping the personality of student is the need of the hour. Education without human values is futile. We need values to know ‘what to do’ and learn ‘how to do’. “The purpose of the literature is to turn blood into ink.” T.S. Eliot . Literature plays a pivotal role in inculcating values in youth. Literature is something that reflects society, makes us think about ourselves and our society. It reflects on human conditions. Present generation needs an exposure to classics written by great writers. Literature from time immemorial has appealed to students of all ages. As Connie Willis, an American science fiction writer said, “Literature is the people who went before us, tapping out messages from the past, from beyond the grave, trying to tell as about life and death! Listen to them! “Every individual should give importance to values, character building, life skills etc. Literature is a source for all these skills and values. Literature reflects human values. It has been a channel for authors to express the importance of human values. It influences human thought. We can cultivate wisdom, learn what is good and what is evil. Literature cannot in itself make us a individual, but it can assist is that quest.
Shakespeare’s dramas are the best examples to say that literature reflects human values. Especially his renowned tragedies – king lean, Othello, Macbeth. Literature has been an outlet for authors to express the importance of human values to the literate public. In ‘King Lear’ when the king decides to divide his kingdom among his three daughters according to the affection they express towards him. His two married daughters Goneral and Regan hypocritically vow extravagant love for him. Whereas his youngest daughter, Cordelia honestly says she can love only as the situation demands. Lear angrily gives her portion of kingdom also to her sisters. But in the end Cordelia is rewarded for her honesty and her sisters are punished for their deceptive nature. Virtue pays in the long run. Married life should be based on mutual respect and confident. Othello lacks both. Jealousy and suspicion are the cause of tragedy which claims the lives of both Destemona and Othello. Othello kills his wife Destemona on the suspicion of her being unfaithful to him. The lesson that is brought out through the tragedy is – one must give no room to jealousy in one’s heart, which leads to dangerous consequences. In Macbeth, (lady Macbeth dominates completely) Macbeth has an ambition to become king, but he becomes king by killing the ruling king. The person behind the scheme is Lady Macbeth. It is she who overpowers him committing the crime. She is very cruel and cunning, she has no humanity. To turn the witches prophesy true, and in her mad desire to become queen, she puts aside all considerations of morality. The result is she goes mad and kills herself. Through this character the dramatist brings out the truth that those who do evil deeds suffer mentally and spiritually. It proves that the foul deed is most horrible for a normal human being. Human values are valuable in life, especially at present. There is every need for modern generation to have an exposure to great classics. Literature speaks or shows that, in perfect society, it would be very easy to balance all of these human values and technology, so that everything and everyone could live harmoniously every day. Even though technology is a growing force in today’s society, it is important to use different values to make life enjoyable and rewarding. This noble task can be achieved only by the teachers at under graduate level.
This paper is a plea to realise the need of human values, and to practice them in order to make this world a better place, for the future generations at least to live in.
- http://www.humanists.net/pdhutcheon/humanist%20articles/ethical_humanism_of_albert_schwe.htm (Albert Schweitzer,The Teaching of Reverence for Life. (New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1965), 9
- Williams Shakespeare,complete works of Shakespeare,ED. Peter Alexandra.London: E.L.B.S.@Collin’s.
- RR Gaur, R Sangal, G P Bagaria- Human Values in Professional Ethics: Edition New Delhi 2010.