Miss Possum

Miss Possum
Pale but dynamic

Thursday, 15 March 2012

Torture scenes in novels - should be warnings on the cover!

I am so sick of vividly described torture in fantasy novels. Many such scenes are merely gratuitous. Unfortunately, when the story is one we wish to read, as in 'Inheritance', we are forced to endure through the detail as we want to enjoy the rest of the story. I understand its use as a device - the character must suffer to build empathy, to develop as a character, to explore their own capacities and flaws, and most importantly, to suffer in order to earn their reward at the climax of the novel. 
Surely there are many other ways to achieve this? Torture, if absolutely necessary, can be off-scene. The character can experience challenge and suffering in many other ways; or evil characters can be portrayed as evil without the torture:  See my review:
Finally, I think books which include scenes of torture should have warnings on the cover. Remember readers and writers, books are fiction. There is far too much real torture and suffering out there for us to have to live through fictional experiences as well. Does portraying evils such as torture 'normalise' treating other people and creatures in this way, or does it help to raise the issue of the horror of torture? My view is that I already know about and abhor this type of behaviour. I don't want to experience it vicariously as well in fiction, the place I go to rest and escape.

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