All terms

What is Empathy?

The ability to understand and share the feelings of others.

Empathy: Putting Yourself in Someone Else's Shoes

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of others. It is the act of putting yourself in someone else's shoes and experiencing their emotions as your own. This is a crucial skill for writers, as it allows them to create fully-realized, three-dimensional characters that readers can relate to. Empathy also plays a role in grammar and the English language, as it helps writers understand how language can be used to convey different emotional states. Etymologically, empathy comes from the Greek word 'empatheia,' meaning 'passion' or 'state of emotion,' and was popularized in the early 20th century by German philosopher Theodor Lipps.

Walking in Someone Else's Shoes: Two Examples of Empathy in Literature
Empathy is a key element in literature, allowing readers to connect with and understand characters on a deeper level.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Throughout the novel, Scout and Jem learn the importance of putting themselves in someone else's shoes. They struggle to understand the racist attitudes of their town until they witness the trial of Tom Robinson. As they watch their father, Atticus, defend Tom, they see the injustice and cruelty of the racism prevalent in their community.

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner follows the life of Amir, a wealthy Pashtun boy, and his best friend Hassan, a Hazara servant. When Amir chooses not to intervene when Hassan is raped, he ultimately learns the value of empathy. Through the rest of the novel, he makes sacrifices to try to make up for his mistakes and understand the struggles that his friend and others in Afghanistan face.