The Ten Most Important Things I’ve Learned from Literature

This is the first post of my “The Ten Most Important Things I’ve Learned from Literature” series. It was originally supposed to be a collaboration with a friend, but things didn’t quite work out. Perhaps that post will still happen further down the line, but I’ll keep you posted on that.

Regardless, this is my list of the ten most important things I’ve learned from literature (novels, plays, and poetry). I have a couple of other people lined up to write posts for this, and I’m always willing to take more people’s opinions on this subject.

I’m also planning on wrapping this series up with a post on the ten most important but also humorous things I’ve learned from life. After all, certain life lessons from certain fictional characters (Beatrice and Benedick, I’m looking at you.) are important, but at the same time, they ought to be taken with a grain of salt.

However, after far too much ado, here is my list…

The Ten Most Important Things I’ve Learned from Literature

10. You don’t need scores of suitors. You only need one, if he’s the right one. (Little Women)

I haven’t yet met my Mr. Knightley, but I believe that I will one day. I hope that I will not need a line of beaux on a string or scores of suitors to find the right man. I hope that like Meg, Jo, and Amy I will meet with the right man at the right time.

I believe that Amy March spoke her greatest wisdom when she said that you don’t need scores of suitors…or a line of beaux on a string, Ruby Gillis…all you need is the right man. It worked for her and for her sisters. And all Anne Shirley ever really needed was the right man. She just had to come to that realization in her own time.

9.”Tomorrow is a clean slate, with no mistakes in it.” (Anne of Green Gables)

Some days are pretty disastrous. But at the end of the time, it is always comforting to go to bed knowing that I haven’t screwed tomorrow up…yet.

8. Be on Aslan’s side even if there isn’t any Aslan. Live as a Narnian even if there isn’t any Narnia. (The Silver Chair)

In other words, I will believe in God no matter what. And Puddleglum supports me on that. To me, this quotation is pretty self-explanatory.

7. That which we are, we are. (“Ulysses” by Tennyson)

Be yourself. Don’t try to be someone else. I’m not sure that was exactly Tennyson’s message, but that’s what I’ve always taken from that line.

6. Tread softly; you are most likely treading on someone’s dreams. (“He Wishes for the Cloths of Heaven” by Yeats)

You never know who you’re impacting. You never know whose dreams you’re walking on or whose life you’re impacting. This poem is probably my favorite thing about the movie, Equilibrium.

5. I am a princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they dress in rags, even if they aren’t pretty, or smart, or young. They’re still princesses. All of us. Didn’t your father ever tell you that? Didn’t he? (The Little Princess)

All girls are princesses. All girls-no matter who they are or what they look like; all girls are princesses, and they deserve to be treated as such.

4. Watch what you say; you never know who just heard you call her tolerable. (Pride and Prejudice)

You never know who is listening. As a teacher, I am frequently reminded of this. You never know who just overheard what you said or how that impacted them.

3. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us. (The Lord of the Rings)

We don’t have to make the truly BIG decisions in life. We don’t have to decide the fate of the universe. All we mere mortals must do is decide what we’re going to do with our lives and how we’re going to live them.

2. When you are real, you don’t mind being hurt. (The Velveteen Rabbit)

Being Real means being loved. Being loved inevitably involves being hurt. But when you are really and truly REAL, you don’t mind it because you understand it more.

1. “If I have taught you to carry the cross and die on it, then I have taught you everything. Have I taught you this?” (Father Elijah)


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