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|Title:||The Isolated Heroine in the Manawaka Novels of Margaret Laurence|
|Authors:||MacLennan, Margaret Jennifer|
|Keywords:||English Language and Literature;English Language and Literature|
|Abstract:||<p>This thesis is a study of the isolated heroine in Margaret Laurence's Manawaka novels. A number of factors contribute to her isolation, including her sense of separation from self, her sense of alienation from the environment in which she lives, and a struggle to come to terms with the influences which her sense of the past exerts on her personality. The pattern of personal development from a position of weakness and alienation to a position of self-understanding and responsibility is common to all four of Margaret Laurence's Manawaka heroines. Each heroine survives and achieves a sense of personal freedom, which Laurence has described as the central concern of her works.1 This search for a significant life and a real sense of responsibility arise out of the experience of isolation, an experience which can be seen as Canadian, nut at the same. time universal, a frequent concern in works of the twentieth century.<br /><br />The present study will investigate the phenomena of isolation and alienation and the resultant development of a 'survival' ethic, which is in some ways analogous to the existentialist concept of the outsider, which appears in much twentieth-century literature. It is almost inevitable that a twentieth-century writer will have come, at some time, under the influence of existentialist thought. Much twentieth-century literature, as well as philosophy, sociology, and psychology, is concerned with the problem of isolation. There is no way in which Margaret Laurence could be unaware of isolation as a personal and literary problem, and while I do not intend to argue that her Manawaka novels are solely existentialist, they are works produced by someone whose childhood years were spent in an isolated town in the Canadian prairies, and whose crucial early years as a writer were spent as “outsider who experienced a seven year love affair with a continent, but woo in the end had to remain in precisely that relationship.”2 The concerns with isolation and alienation and the search for truth or meaning which produced the outsider in other literature are certainly present in Canadian literature, so it is not surprising that Laurence's heroines exhibit characteristics typical of people who find themselves alone. <br /><br />This thesis, then, concerns the psychological and emotional journey of the isolated heroine as she struggles with alienation from her environment and with personal loneliness and isolation to achieve a deeper understanding of life and a fuller appreciation of it. In a sense, what follows is a study of a vision of life which allows the protagonist to reach an understanding of herself as a culmination of her own personal past, her ancestral history, and her present situation. Laurence's isolated heroines learn to face life's sorrows and its beauties, and to use their knowledge to' achieve a fuller and deeper appreciation of life, to act with courage and responsibility, and to survive with hope and dignity. Throughout I will consider other critical appraisals of Margaret Laurence's work and will also indicate, where appropriate, similarities between the situations of her heroines and the behaviour and environments of the existentialist outsider.<br /><br /><br /></p>|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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