Didacticism is a philosophy that adheres to the notion that texts should be instructional as well as entertaining. A didactic text is one that teaches and instructs, and originally, the idea was that learning should be done in an intriguing manner. Over time, the term didactic has taken on a negative connotation, as a text that seeks to instruct or teach is sometimes seen as dull or "preachy."
John Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress-one of the more famous examplesThe text seeks to teach the reader about traveling the road to Heaven, which is difficult and obstacle-filled. There are characters in the play, such as "Obstacle" and "Mr. Worldly Wiseman." The main character who is traveling the road is called "Christian."
The Bible is filled with parables that are didactic. Jesus often instructed his disciples and crowds of listeners through parables. One of these is the parable of the Prodigal Son. It is about a father with two sons. One takes his interitance, leaves home, and squanders his money. He ends up eating with pigs and decides to go home. Thinking he will be welcomed as a servant, his father is overjoyed to see him, and plans a big feast. The lesson is that God loves his children-even those who stray.
Another parable in the Bible is the parable of the Good Samaritan. Jesus was asked about neighbors. He told a story of a Jewish man who was attacked and robbed. As he lay on the side of the road, hurt, Jewish travelers passed him by. But a Samaritan (Jews did not get along with Samaritans) stopped to help him and made sure he was taken care of until he was well. The lesson is that the neighbor is the one who took the time to help him.
To Kill a Mockingbird is didactic in many respects. Atticus Finch is the voice of moral teaching, as he instructs his children about prejudice, courage, and doing the right thing even when you are in the minority. Through Atticus' words to Scout and Jem, the reader is also taught lessons about these complicated issues.
Literary Terms Examples