'We read to know that we are not alone."
While watching Shadowlands with my family that line stood out to me, it's almost one of the only things I really remember about the movie. Reading, of course, is a very large facet of my life. I require it and the comfort it provides to function on a day-to-day basis. Yet does that mean that I feel alone - that I am frantically searching for another person who understands me? Another person who I can trust without reserve because their character is set in stone?
A character in a book can do no more nor less than what has been written for them. They are at their creators mercy and have no way in which to rebel. This very fact is what I believe makes our fantasy characters so alluring. We know that Elizabeth Bennet will always end up with Darcy, Harry Potter will defeat Lord Voldemort, and Romeo and Juliet must always die. Theirs is a world with is limited and therefore we find in it a protection from the uncertainties of life. Their rules are quite literally spelled out and their path is paved. Theirs is a secure world. Oh it may not be the most comfortable and at times be quite dangerous but they know how the story will end, they have traveled their path many times before.
As humans I believe we crave that security for ourselves more than almost anything else, that is why we attempt to lose ourselves in stories that are not our own. We read in the hope of discovering that we are not alone and with that discovery, if it ever occurs, we breath a sigh of relief and gain the strength needed to carry on through our uncertain lives.