Q.1. Define gossip and trace its origin. Or How is gossip faintly immoral?
Gossip means idle talk about neighbors, friends, or relatives. People gossip just to pass time. It is often baseless. In most of the cases, it is concerned with the private affairs of others. The basic purpose of gossip is to pass or kill time or just to amuse oneself or others. But some people gossip to criticize, degrade or scandalize others. In that sense, gossip is faintly immoral. Gossip should never touch the private or moral life of a person. It should be used to know, but not to harm others.
Gossip has always been a source of pleasure and information. In pre-historic days cavemen gossiped to know about their neighbors. Through gossip, we can know about the customs, habits, lives, and cultures of our relatives, friends, and other people. We can understand others through gossip. Those, who gossip to harm others or expose their weaknesses, misuse gossip. They don’t know the real purpose of gossiping. In ancient days there were no other means of entertainment for the people except gossip. They mainly resorted to gossip and storytelling. Modern fiction can be traced to ancient gossip and storytelling. 191
Q 2. How is gossip different from “rumour_mongering” and “slander”? (P.U.95)
Rumour mongering means to invent rumors about others. Rumour spreads rapidly from person to person and it is not real. During war or any other crisis, people concoct rumors which spread fast and cause harassment among people.
Slander means a false statement about a person. Its only purpose is to damage the reputation of a person. Religious, political, and business rivals often resort to slander. Gossip means idle talk about neighbors, friends, or relatives. People gossip just to pass time. It is often baseless. In most cases, it is concerned with the private affairs of others.
Gossip is positive and constructive, whereas slander and rumour_mongering are negative. By gossiping about others we want to develop some connection or link with them or we want to know about their community, its customs, and traditions. Our main purpose is to understand others. By spreading rumors people want to harm a government, a country, or a society. Often rumors cause harassment among the masses. It may topple a government.
By spreading slander i.e. a false statement we want to damage the reputation of others for having some malice. Thus slander and rumour_mongering are negative and destructive whereas gossip is positive, constructive and harmless 201
- 3. “Everyone wants to gossip, hardly anyone wants to be gossiped about.” Illustrate.
It is a common habit of the people that they feel pleasure in gossiping about others in knowing the secrets, affairs, and scandals of others, but they don’t tolerate that others should gossip about them. They don’t want their weaknesses should be exposed. That is why gossip about others often leads to quarrels among friends, relatives, and neighbors. People are often very curious about the secrets of their relatives, friends, and neighbors. Relatives and neighbors try to keep an eye on the happenings in the houses of their relatives and neighbors and then gossip about them. Sometimes the gossip affects the relationship between relatives and neighbors. If gossip goes to this extent it turns to be immoral. The writer wants to point out that people should keep in view the basic motive behind the gossip that is pleasure and enjoyment. There should be no ill will behind it. If we feel pleasure in gossiping about others, we should not mind gossip about ourselves. 165
- 4. Differentiate between “gossip” and “information”. (P.U.95)
The writer makes a clear difference between gossip and information by citing an example. “John got a new job” is information but “Hey, did you hear John got fired” is gossip. The first sentence gives us some information about John, but the second one is purely meant to harm or scandalize him. The second sentence, in this sense, is negative and immoral. Information is, therefore, positive and useful; whereas gossip, though harmless, is sometimes used for negative purposes.
- 5. Why does Prose make the point that gossip has the qualities of good fiction?
Gossip has the qualities of good fiction because, like that of fiction, the main purpose of gossip is to derive pleasure. It is the oldest form of fiction. The cavemen gossiped about their neighbors and animals, especially bison. People generally gossip to derive pleasure or pass time. They read fiction with the same motive. Gossip is mainly concerned with exaggerated incidents from the lives of friends, relatives, and heroes. In fiction too we find real characters who behave and act as we do. Through fiction, we can learn through gossip about people, their lives, and their origin.
Thus fiction is the developed form of gossip. Through gossip, the people learned the art of storytelling. But gossip must be clear and authentic like fiction. The writer says that despite some objections gossip has the essential elements of good fiction. It is a tool of communication and understanding.