Date of Award

1988

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

First Advisor

Daniel Mark Fogel

Abstract

A study of talented characters reveals that three of the most influential novelists in English dealt with the often disabling image of the artist they had inherited from their Romantic forebears by insisting on dialectical tension between the artist and society as essential to the creation of literary art. The various talented characters in Hawthorne's short fiction, such as Aylmer, Rappaccini, Oberon, the Canterbury poet, the portrait painter of "The Prophetic Pictures," the woodcarver Drowne, and Owen Warland, fail to create art unless they retain certain links with their societies of origin. This tension between artist and society appears as an extended allegory in The Scarlet Letter, in which Roger Chillingworth represents the talented individual severed from his society, Arthur Dimmesdale represents the talented individual immersed in his society, and Hester Prynne represents Hawthorne's ideal artist. The same dialectic operates in Henry James's shorter works, such as "The Lesson of the Master," "The Author of Beltraffio," and "The Next Time," as well as in two of James's novels, Roderick Hudson, and The Tragic Muse. In James Joyce's two most widely read novels, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, Stephen Dedalus's systematic rejection of family, country, and church marks him as the sterile "artist" who has severed his connections with his society of origin, and Leopold Bloom's economic concerns mark him as the talented individual immersed in his society and rendered sterile by that immersion. The artistic failure of characters who are either isolated from society or immersed in it, along with the success of characters who can strike a balance between isolation and immersion, indicates that all three of these writers consistently rejected the various sterotypes of the isolated artist which were the legacy of the Romantics.

Pages

286

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