Eastern Literature vs. Western: Why is it different? | Minnie Chen – Grade 10

books stacked Eastern and Western literature: both are unique and valuable, but is the world focusing on one at the expense of the other?
  • Western authors often take a lot of time to describe characters’ feelings
  • It is easy to understand the characters’ perceptions in western novels
  • Plots in eastern novels often features characters working as a team

Beginning in the Age of Discovery, western culture and eastern culture began to blend with each other. Western culture has seriously influenced eastern culture, as can be seen in literature, clothing, and entertainment. Although the east and west are mixed up with the each other’s culture, they still retain their own features.

Emotions of characters

In the western novels, authors often take a lot of time to describe characters’ feelings. It is easy to understand characters’ perceptions. The author directly tells the readers how the character feels. Compared to eastern novels, writing styles are totally different. In eastern novels it’s not so explicit. Instead, they explain the characters’ emotions by describing reactions of an outsider. Therefore, readers often need to re-read pages to find hints as to the motivations of the characters.


The strongest feature of eastern novels is definitely dialogue. Authors put a lot of implied ideas in the dialog. For eastern culture, it’s unusual for people to show off their feelings, so it’s also the same in writing. Writers won’t directly state how the characters feel, so they do it in the dialog. Digging into their talking, the dialog can show the character more vividly. In contrast, western books often use more inner monologue. Authors make lots of similes to describe the characters’ inner world. As a result, readers find that characters in the western novels are more vivid.

Story structure

Not only are writing methods different between East and West, but so are the plots. Western novels often focus on one character, but eastern novels often make characters rely on teamwork. Therefore, the number of characters in the eastern novels are numerous; most of the time the main character is not someone who shows up in the first chapter. This isn’t to say that western novels have no teamwork, but western writers often use one character as the viewpoint for the whole story.

Also, unlike eastern novels, western novels are set around characters as they are working to achieve their dreams; in eastern novels, on the other hand, characters are intended to make a world a better place. They want social justice. This can be traced back to history; most eastern countries were authoritarian regimes until World War ⅠⅠ, so writers had more ideas about going against the government. Seeing the success of western democracy, these authors, and their audiences, wanted to follow a similar path.

These are just a few differences between eastern and western novels. Due to these cultures becoming dramatically close, both types of writing are getting more and more similar. Some eastern novels which are written in a western novel format are more popular than the old novels. And, unfortunately, eastern novels are losing their own features to cater to this new market.

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