How History Shapes Writing of Literature

History has a major role in the way literature is written and shaped. Many plays, novels, and even poems are influenced by either the political context or by the historical context it was written in, based on the authors experiences, biases and even interests. These previous ideas and events shape the way authors write and portray their stories to the audience. Historical events provide authors and readers with information about past events that have occured and influence authors writing. Throughout the course of history, numerous pieces of literature were written based on events that had occured or were based on important figures in the past.


History impacts numerous different pieces of literature, but plays an important role in short stories. Numerous schools have their students read and analyze numerous short stories, and learn about the importance of historical context in the piece of literature. Authors use their past experiences, their knowledge of past events, and biases about those events and stories to help them write. “The Interlopers,” is a short story focussing on two men; Georg and Ulrich. These two men were born into feuding families and have inherited the family feud, over a simple dispute regarding a piece of land, and drawing it out to a murderous point. As the years passed by the feud has only become stronger between the two families. The fight between the 2 families in this short story started from a small quarrel to numerous outbursts of rage and violence. In the story after the huge tree branch fell on  top of the two men, a small flask of whiskey was used as a conversation starter and an offering of peace, between the two,allowing them to put their past behind them and start with new beginnings. But unfortunately for them two hungry wolves were also roaming the forest , and though they’d come to peace and agreement they ended up being devoured and killed by these wolves (Saki). In the story, “The Interlopers,” written by the British author Saki, who tried to convey a message that holding grudges and fights over a long period of time can’t provide any benefit for the person. In this case the two men are from rivalling families whose pointless obsession over a piece of forested land cause them to spark countless vendettas. But once the two men are struck by the tree branch they realise how childish and pointless their feud had been, and an inference can be made that Saki wanted to show the reader that even hatred from generation to generation can weaken once one opens up their eyes. However neither Georg nor Ulrich completely escape the consequences of their feud even after they had come to peace, they’d become a meal for the hungry wolves who lived in the forest. Their death ends up being tragic due to the fact that their feud ended with reunion. It can also be inferred that Saki wanted to show the readers the consequences and dangers of taking hatred and grudges to an extreme since both Ulrich and Georg entered the forest with intentions of killing. Saki creatively brought his experiences as a soldier in the WWI into this piece of literature, as many connections between the two can be drawn. Saki cunningly uses the land the two men were fighting over to emphasize the importance of fighting. The two men were born into the two families that were at a constant feud for generations over a piece of land. This can be related back to World War I where the countries fought for their pride and reputation without thinking through any solutions or the consequences of their actions. Also World War I first started from a small quarrel between two countries to a huge war involving a multitude of nations across the globe, similar to how the  fight between the 2 families in this short story started from a small quarrel to numerous outbursts of rage and violence. In the story after the huge tree branch fell on  top of the two men, a small flask of whiskey was used as a conversation starter and an offering of peace between the two, so they could put the past behind them and start with new beginnings which can be compared to the peace treaty in World War I. Throughout the short story Saki creatively compared and alluded to the dreaded history of World War I, integrating his personal experiences during the World War I. 


In the previous short story; “The Interlopers,” the author used his personal experiences to shape the story, but in the next short story; “Lamb to the Slaughter,” which will be discussed, Roald Dahl uses old stereotypes imposed on women to build and shape the story. Roald Dahl’s “Lamb to the Slaughter” is an ironic short story about the murder of police detective Patrick Maloney who was killed by his wife Mary Maloney. She was driven to commit homicide after hearing her husband’s unexpected announcement that he’s leaving her and their unborn child. After digesting this sudden news, Mary quickly returns to reality and regained her senses after brutally murdering him with the frozen leg of lamb. She soon pretends as if she was not the murderer by pretending to be shocked and in sorrow as she quickly called the police. Once the policemen and detectives file into her house, they investigate the scene and try to find out the cause of Patrick Maloney’s death. She was soon questioned by one policeman about what happened and where she was at the time. Ms. Maloney told the policeman everything she knew leaving out all the information about her killing Patrick. She then cooks the leg of lamb and offers the food she’d prepared including the lamb to the detectives for dinner. The cops take the food gratefully and start to eat the food as they are completely oblivious to the fact that they were eating the murder weapon at the moment as they were discussing the murder(Dahl). In the past Women were expected to act a certain way, to keep up with their gentle and dainty image. Men were expected to take charge of the family, work and provide for the family while the women were expected to stay at home, take care of the children, wash the clothes/dishes, cook for the family, clean and take care of the men and the children. Women were expected to follow whatever the men as they were discriminated against as men believed that men were superior to women. This story Mary Maloney, was always light on her feet and very flexible about anything her husband would suggest. It’s easy to tell how eager she was to help and aid him at the beginning of the story. At first Ms. Maloney seemed to fit all of the standards for women and seemed to be almost a perfect wife and she continues to keep up that act throughout the story. She even acts so well that she fooled the policemen taking her name out of the suspect list completely, since the policemen couldn’t believe that such a nice and sweet woman like Ms. Maloney (or any woman really) could commit such a brutal act. Back then in the up to this day, women were expected to tend for their husband’s every need in the most meticulous ways. This is one of the main ways that history has influenced this piece of literature.


Orwell uses his past experiences and his knowledge to relate and allude his story back to the Russian Revolution.  He uses numerous methods such as using, the animals/characters in the books to allude to people in the Russian Revolution. Animal Farm, written by George Orwell, is a novel about some animals in a farm who try to take over the farm they are living on, from their farmer. The uprising started against their farmer, Farmer Jones, because the animals were fed up with his actions, so they attempted to get him kicked out of their farm. Once the animals were free from the rule of their ex-leader, Farmer Jones, the animals life on the farm got better and better, and they continued to hope that these good times would last longer and be there to welcome them in the future, filled with less work, more food, and better education for themselves. However these dreams and hopes of these animals only lasted for a while, until two pigs started scheming. Napoleon and Snowball, both started to “fight for the minds and for the hearts of the animals on the farm.” This was done, when Napoleon forcibly seized the power from the farm and started to use the animals in the farm for his own good, just as Farmer Jones had done before. As Napoleon started to exploit his power on the animals the mentality of the pigs started to change and so did their behaviour. The pigs, along with Snowball and Napoleon, started to act and dress up like the humans, which all the animals had tried to get rid of earlier (Orwell). This novel was written and published by George Orwell in 1945, and served as an analogy to the Russian Revolution. Orwell used the animals and the setting of the farm to not only to use as a symbol to draw parallels back to the Russian Revolution, but to also to satirically rewrite the political ideologies and ideals in a way that express’ his bias and his opinions about the events and the people involved. In this novel, Napoleon was used as an allegory, based on Joseph Stalin, who led the Soviet Union from 1922 to 1953. Napoleon was named after the French Emperor, Napoleon. Snowball and Napoleon, represented the relationship between Stalin and Leon Trotsky. Leon Trotsky was a Russian Revolutionary, Marxist Theorist, and a Soviet politician. Trotsky supported the Permanent Revolution (which in Trotsky’s eyes was a world where somewhere a communist revolution was taking place and the old order was kept). Which in the story was shown when Snowball tried to overthrow the other farm owners. While Stalin supported the idea of Socialism in one country, which was soon to be adopted by the Soviet Union, and used as the states policy, which was portrayed in the novel when Napoleon had the idea to teach and train the farm animals to use firearms.


History plays a major role in the way literature is written, as it influences and manipulates authors perspectives in different ways, which shapes the way literature is written. Historical events in both historical context and political context influence the way plays, short stories, novels, and numerous other pieces of literature are written. Past events in history and important historical figures are a few topics some pieces of literature are based on. These historical events also educate the reader on past events that have shaped the modern world and how they may have influenced the authors writing.

Works Cited

  • Dahl, Roald “Lamb to the Slaughter.” Classic Short Stories, 1995 January 16 2019
  • Orwell, George. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story. New York, NY : Signet Classics, [1996. Print.
  • Saki.“Short Stories: The Interlopers by Saki”, East of the Web


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