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All About Stereotypes

It takes the mastering of many concepts in literature to come up with a good narrative. Mastering particular concepts of literature will help you as a writer manipulate them and effectively use them for different purposes. Let’s get started with the definition.

The definition of stereotypes

Stereotypes refer to general beliefs about a particular group of things or people. These beliefs affect how an individual sees or perceives the group of concern. Stereotypes are usually created based on aspects such as race, sexual orientation, nationality, behaviors, and many other aspects. Stereotypes can be about a large specific group and they can also be narrowed down to specific categories of things or people in a particular group of people. For example, one can have a stereotype about black men. One can also have a different stereotype about gay black men. Although gay black men fall under the group of black men, they are under a different category of the same group. The same group of black men can be broken down into different stereotypes based on their nationality. For instance, the stereotypes about gay black American men are different from those of African or Asian gay men. Another example is one can have a stereotype about pets (pets are clingy creatures) and also at the same time have different stereotypes about various types of pets. Dogs and cats are the most commonly stereotyped pets. Dogs are believed to be very clingy and friendly. Cats are believed to be distant.

Stereotypes can be positive or negative. Whether positive or negative, stereotypes often have an adverse effect on the group of things or people affected. For example, if one does not conform to the expectations created by a stereotype about his or her specific group, then it may affect his or her self-esteem. The same is also true for negative stereotypes that may affect the self-esteem of the specific group or category of people concerned. For example, the stereotype that Asians (Chinese) are good at martial arts may make people portray them as immune to physical attacks. The same stereotype may make people view Asians (Chinese) as violent people.

The difference between stereotypes, discrimination, and prejudice

Writers may not be able to tell the difference between stereotypes, discrimination, and prejudice because they are all intergroup attitudes. Discrimination refers to the unjust treatment of a particular group of people (in other words it deals with actions). Prejudice refers to the preconceived opinions about a particular group of people (it deals with emotions).

Types of stereotypes

Implicit stereotypes

Explicit stereotypes

How to use stereotypes in literature

To create characters

A writer can create amazing characters based on stereotypes. Some of the common stereotypical characters are:

Russian agents, mercenaries, and mafia members are believed to be ruthless and heartless. Black Americans are believed to be good athletes and singers or rappers. Asians (Chinese) are believed to be good at martial arts.

To create themes

The use of stereotypes in literature can create a lot of themes. The writer can address various sensitive and different topics through stereotyping his or her characters.

To make their work dramatic or entertaining and also add humor

A writer can use stereotypes to make their work dramatic and entertaining. This can especially be achieved through making different stereotyped characters interact. This interaction can be humorous if the writer creatively presents it.


Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Keith Mbuya