When I was studying languages at uni, I had to wade through three years of soul-crushing literature analysis courses for English. We tore books apart and analysed aspects of characters that the author never gave a second thought. I hated it with a passion. It felt like we were putting messages in the authors’ mouths and claiming that they had meant to communicate them.
Then, after I had finished my degree, I realised movies and books had ultimately changed for me. I saw patterns and themes. I followed character growth, regression or lack of either. I was far more aware of stilted story telling and (actually mostly) lack of plot. As a matter of fact, for a few years, I didn’t enjoy any of the stories I read or watched. My uni training had made me too critical. Even good stories have plot holes and inconsistencies.
Then came a turnaround for me. My husband was following the Sword of Truth series by Terry Goodkind and I decided to try and catch up to him. Though the main characters’ whining got to me more than the first time I had read the first book, I was just enjoying it. But in book five I found my gripe: I had realised that the underlying moral of every book came down to how people become brainwashed by their community or circumstances to believe things regardless of proof that indicates otherwise.
At first, I was disappointed to realise that all those books had that theme. It took all the fun out of the reading for me. But, then, it dawned on me: Every author has some sort of message. Every author has a need to express some truth about life. For Goodkind, it’s a journey with his readers to lead them to disillusioned awareness about the influences in their lives. For me, it’s most notably about the awareness that people are all broken in some way and that your own, unique brokenness does not have to get in your way to becoming awesome.
Have you found deeper messages buried deep in the pages of the books by your favourite author?
Some of the deeper messages I have encountered:
- Things are not what they seem
- Do not judge on first appearances
- We are destroying the planet with our own ignorance
- All people are alike deep down inside
- Everyone just wants to be heard
- Words can destroy more easily than they create
- The road to Hell is paved with good intentions