Humanism and Low Key Stephen King

In my Age of Reason class during school, the subject of our learning so far this semester has been Humanism.  One of the primary sources that I had to read for our studies in humanism was called the Story of Griselda.  There is a link to this story at the end of this blog post.

This was a very odd piece of writing to read, and it was hard to find the main point that the author was trying to get across.  The writing takes the form of a letter from one man to another, telling the other that he had rewritten the other man’s book, and that he wanted to make sure he could do it, and that it was in all respect.  The writing near the end though seemed to side-track and began to talk more about the human heart and emotions.

I could not see any direct connection to humanism in any part of this piece of writing, but I would say that probably the closet part in my opinion is the last part, where the author is telling about his argument against the second reader; things that seem literally impossible for some people, may seem easy for others.

This happened when a man who had written an apparently very sad novel shared it with multiple men all of whom cried while reading it, except one who had no reaction at all.  Upon asking the man who had no reaction why he did not, the reader replied:

I too,” he said at the end, ” would have wept, for the subject certainly excites pity, arid the style is well adapted to call forth tears, and I am not hardhearted; but I believed, and still believe, that this is all an invention

I see this common idea in both humanism and the writing piece of how all humans are not the same, and all have different skills and abilities that can be pushed to different extents.

As I was reading the last part of the primary source though, I found that somewhere in my brain there was a lot of familiarity with how the man who did not have a reaction was feeling.  I later placed this familiarity to be related to a Stephen King book that I had recently finished, called Misery


            Misery was a very good book, but what I found to be related was that one of the main characters in Misery felt exactly opposite than the man who had no reaction to the story felt.  Annie Wilkes, the charter I’m referring to obviously had some sort of problem mentally, because she kidnapped and abused the author of a book who had killed the main character in his novel, in which she was extremely angry because she felt a connection with the character, as if the character were actually alive.

The story by Stephen King would be hard to believe that it could happen in real life, but I think that these two put together relate perfectly to Humanism, in the idea that humans are very different, and have different interests and personalities.




  1. cassandra2014

    Great post! The connection that you drew from ‘Story of Griselda’ is really great! In addition, to be able to connect the two different stories and how they relate to Humanism. I was thinking, do you think that it’s okay people are not the perfect human like humanist strive to be? Why or why not? Thanks!

  2. Hey Casey, thanks for the comment! But yeah I definitely think that it’s alright for some humans not to be able to achieve the complete goal of humanism if that is what they are aiming for. In fact I think that it would be impossible that every Humanist be perfect, because that would go completely against human nature. I do think though that as long as they are striving to be a good humanist, that they will have a very similar mind set which is what I think is a big part of what Humanism is all about. Thanks again for reading!

    – Michael

  3. georgialeeann

    I really enjoyed reading your work! I especially enjoyed your connection to Misery- a great book and movie- with that every human can be “pushed to different extents”. I feel like you are really opening a door to something important here because you are touching on the humanistic idea to strive to understand what drives humans to do what they do and also to understand that we have limits. Each individual’s capacity, and perhaps overcapacity (as exemplified in Misery), to feel and react is unique to them and that idea of individualism really came through in your post. I wanted to ask what you were interpreting from the line “that this is all an invention” in the Story of Griselda. What do you think is an “invention” in this instance? Thanks!

    • dirtymike1414

      Thanks for the thoughtful comment, Georgia! I think that what the man was referring to by saying “invention,” was the story itself, and because it did not actually happen (because it as an invention), there was no real reason to feel a strong emotion about it. Thanks again

      – Michael

  4. erinwritesagain

    I’m really interested to find out more! Can you explain what you mean when you say that you didn’t see any direct connection to humanism in the Story of Griselda? How are you defining Humanism? Thanks!

    • dirtymike1414

      Hey Erin! Well what I meant by no “direct connection,” was that there was nowhere where it said the word ‘humanism’ or really had anything related. It was written so that it was open to interpretation, and didn’t give the reader any of their own. I think that there is also a link at the bottom to the source that I read, if you are still curious! Thanks for the comment

      – Michael

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