Nihilism In Literature: What It Is And How It Impacts The Reader?

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Nihilism is the belief that life is meaningless. It is not just a belief, but rather an ideology that rejects the idea of life has any intrinsic meaning or value. Some would say that nihilism means believing in nothing or having no values or meaning. It has been the subject of many literary works, including “Gone with the Wind” by Margaret Mitchell and “A Clockwork Orange” by Anthony Burgess. Find out more about nihilism in literature here!

What Is Nihilism?

Nihilism is an ideology that believes there are no objective moral truths. This means that there is no right or wrong, nor any underlying meaning to one’s existence. It is considered an extreme form of pessimism because it believes that life has no inherent meaning or value. Nihilism is the rejection of all religious philosophies, meaning that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. It can also be defined as being absolute skepticism or pessimism in matters involving morality, religion, faith, and values. The basic idea of nihilism is that nothing really matters at the end of the day.

What Makes It Different From Other Philosophies?

Nihilism is defined by its belief that life has no meaning, value, or purpose. Other philosophies see life as having meaning in some way. Nihilism is what makes the reader feel hopeless and the message of nihilism in literature seems to be “don’t expect anything positive to come out of this.” Nihilism is a philosophy that dismisses the idea of an objective truth. It doesn’t try to make sense of the world, but rather it observes it as a chaotic entity where there is no order. Nihilism has often been associated with existentialism.

Unlike existentialism, nihilism does not propose any solutions for how to live one’s life. Nihilism is a form of skepticism or pessimistic philosophy that denies any objective meaning or moral order to the cosmos, which it sees as irrational, chaotic, and meaningless. Nihilists generally agree that life has no intrinsic meaning or value.

Read About: What is the Belief of Absurdism?

However, they disagree on what embracing nihilism means. Some say that the best way to react to this lack of meaning is to not have any opinion at all. Others believe that even though there are no morals, one should behave as though there are some objective morals for oneself to be able to function better in society.

Characteristics of Nihilism

Nihilism is the philosophy that life has no meaning, value, or purpose. This means that anything that we do in our lives is just a result of what our brain made us do. When we get confronted by the idea that everything we’re doing doesn’t matter and could just be a figment of our imagination, it can be very depressing and difficult to continue with life.

Nihilism impacts the reader in a negative way because it makes them feel like nothing matters in their lives and they will never accomplish anything. Nihilism is a philosophical worldview that asserts that nothing is sacred or worth living for.

A nihilist doesn’t believe in the existence of God, moral absolutes, or any objective truths. The ideology can be traced back to Friedrich Nietzsche, who was one of the first philosophers to advocate for it. He coined the term “God is dead” which means that there are no objective grounds for believing in God.

How Does Nihilism Influence The Reader’s Interpretation Of The Work?

A nihilist mentality can have a substantial influence on the interpretation of a text. A nihilist interpretation would be that there is no purpose, meaning, or moral significance to anything and everything is meaningless. The nihilism in literature will likely impact the reader in such a way that they will not want to continue reading because it makes them believe that their life is also meaningless.

Quite simply, nihilism is the idea that life has no intrinsic meaning or value. Most commonly, this view is brought up as a criticism of the existentialist position. It goes without saying that apathy and lack of purpose are characteristics of nihilism. Indeed, it may be argued that nihilism is not an ideology at all but rather an emotional state resulting from feelings of powerlessness and hopelessness.


Nihilism is the culmination of the hopelessness and lack of meaning in our society. It’s the result of generation after generation living by hedonistic principles. It’s an idea that began as a desperate attempt at countering existential dread but has become just another excuse to avoid taking responsibility for our decisions.

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