English - Theses, Dissertations, and other Required Graduate Degree Essays

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Irony in Alexander Pope's five major epistles.

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
1968
Abstract: 

The thesis examines Pope's major epistles to show the range and intention of his irony. Throughout the thesis is an analysis of the methods and devices Pope uses in order to achieve irony. There is a discussion of the mock-epic and of classical and Biblical allusions which serve to contrast the values of Pope's age with those of other times. The irony of tones is examined to show the contrast between what the tone implies and the language or image suggests. Irony of manner is discussed through a study of the detachment of the speaker, whose attitude may be one of polite wonder or self-abnegation and apparent tolerance. Verbal irony, one of the main themes, is discussed as denotative, connotative, or associative irony, as well as pun, juxtaposition and zeugma. The first part, a general introduction to Pope's irony, shows that it is irony both of form and matter, and that his method is one of contrast--the contrast between expression and meaning, between appearance and reality, and between the actual and the ideal. The second, which discusses the remarkable fusion between Pope's thought and image, shows that Pope speaks through his images, rather than just using them to illustrate a point. The following three chapters examine the portraits in detail to show that Pope uses his characters to portray the qualities and habits he wishes to castigate. iii The first deals with the misers and spendthrifts in the epistles to Bathurst and Burlington, the second with inconsistency and the Ruling Passion in the epistles to a Lady and Cobham, and the last with bad poets and critics in the epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. The last section is simply a conclusion which notes the relation between irony and value in Pope's epistles, and shows that his irony is not just negation, but that it has a core of central values and an implied moral and social judgment.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Temple Maynard
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The making of an Anglo-Saxon hero.

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
1968
Abstract: 

Modern literary criticism of Beowulf has raised the poem' far above its value as merely an historical document. That the author worked primarily as an artist, and only secondarily as an historian of the Anglo-Saxon pre-migration period, is widely recognized. Nor did he merely retell an older folktale about heroes and monsters, although the main events, the three great fights, are arranged chronologically. Rather, the poet has fixed in his mind the ideals of a pre-Christian heroic society, and he designs his poem to reveal these ideals through the character and actions of Beowulf, presented first as a young retainer nnd then as an old king. Beowulf comes into the story as he comes into the land of the Danes---as a complete stranger; but In the exchange of speeches it is evident that he is no wandering adventurer seeking personal glory. He has come to help the Danes in their twelve-year feud against Grendel, and he awaits Krothgar's permission to act as the Danish champion. The first 700 lines of the poem lead up to Krothgar's entrusting his great hall, the symbol of Danish glory, to Beowulf's protection, and the actual fight is thus only a crowning point, verifying all that has been revealed of Beowulf---his great strength and his equally great courage. Although there is a leap in the chronological progression of events after Beowulf returns to his Geatish king---we are suddenly told that he became king and has ruled well for fifty years---there is no break in the poet's imaginative progression. Krothgar had preached to Beowulf the virtues of good kingship, declaring that the young thane has only to use well those gifts which God has given him, and which he has already displayed. It is with this knowledge of Beowulf's character that we must interpret his last great fight, in which he again reveals the qualities he had shown against the descendants of Cain. His death is given also an historical significance, set as it is between the earlier wars of the Geats and Swedes and the future wars in which his people expect to be defeated. Beowulf has given the Greats fifty years of peace---not by overcoming possible enemies, but, we are led to believe, by his character alone. The last 350 lines of the poem concentrate upon the profound sorrow of the Geats in the death of their king: for they realise that their loss is even the loss of their living ideal of heroic conduct and of their own security.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
M.A. Mason
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The use of historical material in contemporary British drama.

Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
1968
Abstract: 

An interesting feature of post-1956 British drama is the concern of many playwrights to explore problems of contemporary relevance from an historical perspective. It is the purpose of this thesis to examine the use of historical situations and historical settings in six selected plays of the period. ?one each by Robert Bolt, Peter Shaffer and John Gsborne and three by John Arcien?? to show that John Arden best understands the problems posed by the dramatic use of historical material. Such a topic invites any number of approaches, none of which is necessarily superior to another. One could examine the history plays in terms of the thematic concerns prevalent in the non-historical dramas of the various authors, for instance. Or one could study the political or ideological orientations as revealed, in the critical and non-dramatic writings of the playwrights and then relate such concerns to similar considerations in their history plays. In either case, the result would be relevant to our study of the use of historical material. However, because the topic is concerned primarily v/ith the dramatic use of such material, and because the works of four playwrights are under consideration, neither approach is employed. Instead, the method is constituted principally of in-depth studies of individual plays. The aesthetic and thematic aims of the authors are given full consideration, of course, but so far as possible these aims are related to the plays at hand rather than to broader and hence less manageable considerations. Common to the six plays is a decided break with the familiar fourth-wall conventions of naturalistic or realistic drama. As this study shows, however, the use of overtly theatrical devices or conventions, like the use of historical material itself, is neither new to drama nor is it a viable substitute for thematic evasions on the.author's part. Bolt's A Man for All Seasons and Shaffer's The Royal Hunt of the Sun provide convincing illustrations of this point. Conversely, a playwright's conscientious attention to such matters is insufficient to compensate for dramaturgical deficiencies. Osborne's Luther and Arden's Left-Handed Liberty prove that thematic thoroughness does not necessarily result in viable historical drama. However, Arden's Armstrong's Last Goodnight and Serjeant i'-iusgrave' s Dance illustrate that a happy combination is possible, from both an historical and dramatic point of view. These plays suggest that a playwright's success with the use of historical material.is best achieved if he is conversant v.'ith both the academic aspects of the period under consideration and the vast array of artistic conventions by which the various issues may be exploited to great dramatic effect. In other words, Arden shows that intelligent historicism and theatrical craftsmanship must be molded in such a way that neither dominates or submerges the other and in which neither can fairly be evaluated independently of the other. In so doing, Arden demonstrates that an historical approach remains a valid?? often exciting??ue by which problems of contemporary relevance can be explored.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
Malcolm Page
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: Department of English
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.

The poetry of Raymond Souster.

Author: 
Peer reviewed: 
No, item is not peer reviewed.
Date created: 
1968
Abstract: 

Despite Raymond Souster's acknowledged stature as major Canadian poet, no in-depth study of his poetry has been made. Consequently, basic misconceptions exist, the most fundamental one being the tendency to consider Souster's poetry as being static. This thesis is intended to fill partially the void of criticism, thereby erasing the above misconception. The Introduction contains a brief biographical note and description of the literary climate existing when Souster began writing, Chapter II traces the development of Souster's poetic style and examines the influences upon his poetry. Through time, these influences have been the poetry of Kenneth Fearing, Kenneth Patchen, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Charles Olson, and Robert Creeley. The third chapter deals with the full range of Souster's poetry, discussing the interplay of both fear and joy operative in Souster's treatment of the city, nature, woman, and youth. Munro Beattie, for instance, in his Literary History Of Canada (p. 780), states that the form of Souster's poetry has changed scarcely at all since 19^3? Desmond Pacey in Creative Writing in Canada (p. 1?*0 , asserts that although the poems have not deteriorated, there has been no significant development in Souster's poetry since the early 19*4-0's.

Document type: 
Thesis
File(s): 
Senior supervisor: 
L. Kearns
Department: 
Arts and Social Sciences: English Department
Thesis type: 
(Thesis) M.A.