THE RECIPROCITY OF SPACE AND SELF IN FOUR NINETEENTH-CENTURY NOVELISTS: JANE AUSTEN, GEORGE ELIOT, CHARLES DICKENS, AND THOMAS HARDY
This phenomenological study examines selfhood in four nineteenth-century British writers' works. Literary critics have long maintained the importance of place in an individual's formation of self. Similarly, many have acknowledged the affective power of "the other" on an individual's ontological development. However, the exact role place and other play in a person's coming to selfhood continues to be debated. The thought of Heidegger, Ortega y Gassett, and Bachelard contribute to our understanding of the complex relationship place and other serve in the individual's emergence of a sense of self inasmuch as they provide a new matrix from which to discuss selfhood. Problems have arisen in the past when scholars "thingified" the self, seeing it as a "container" for ego or as a subjectivistic center of consciousness with little relationship to anything outside itself. Heidegger, Ortega, and Bachelard, however, describe selfhood as a dynamic event in which subject/object categories have no relevance since self has no physical extension, no clearly delineated limits, no containment. This conception of the self is distinguished by its relational nature. It is a reciprocal and "co-equal" interaction between the individual, others, and the spaces in which one dwells. This study's four authors represent stages in nineteenth-century thought concerning self. Chapter 1 establishes the theoretical basis for the reading that follows. Chapter 2 examines Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice and Mansfield Park as creating the paradigm for selfhood in Elizabeth Bennet's and Fanny Price's progression toward an open involvement with both the world and others. Chapter 3 explores George Eliot's Adam Bede and Middlemarch as studies in the supremacy of egoism over reciprocal selfhood. Chapter 4 discusses Charles Dickens' depiction of a limited and qualified sense of self in Esther Summerson in Bleak House, a novel concentrating on the individual's fundamental experience of domestic space. Chapter 5 inspects the insurmountable barriers to selfhood that arise in Thomas Hardy's Return of the Native and Jude the Obscure. This study shows not only that each author's vision of true selfhood dimmed as the century progressed, but that the circumstances of the age prevented the event of selfhood from occurring.
LAURALEE WEISS ZLOGAR,
"THE RECIPROCITY OF SPACE AND SELF IN FOUR NINETEENTH-CENTURY NOVELISTS: JANE AUSTEN, GEORGE ELIOT, CHARLES DICKENS, AND THOMAS HARDY"
(January 1, 1986).
Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations.