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Title:George Eliot's Use of Irony
Author(s):Kidd, Millie Marie
Department / Program:English
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, English
Abstract:Using the term irony in both the pregeneric sense to mean an attitude or world vision and in the rhetorical sense as a narrative strategy, this thesis traces the movement of irony in George Eliot's fiction (with brief references to the essays) from a largely verbal, corrective device in the early works to a more complex, thematic irony in the later ones. The pattern that emerges from this chronological study is nonlinear, however, and reflects the author's profound personal conflicts which are to a large extent characteristic of all serious writers of the period who found themselves pulled in two directions. The recent advances in science and philosophy which had created a new sense of social, political, and intellectual freedom at the same time had inspired deep feelings of personal doubt, isolation, and loss. George Eliot's art, like that of her best contemporaries, thus contains two warring impulses--the desire to portray faithfully the flux and turmoil of the times and the need to affirm the value of human existence and time-honored tradition. To accommodate this dual allegiance George Eliot draws on many fictional modes and combines contrary elements in such a way as to render any simple schematic study invalid. This thesis examines in general the interaction between the different modes that she employs, including the ways in which they are combined and played off against each other, how one is made to qualify or cancel the other, and, in particular, how irony is used in relation to other effects. All of her works contain alternate and irreconcilable patterns, yoking together comedy and irony, romance and tragedy in ways that elicit new and complex responses from readers, but they all contain far more irony than has been accounted for in previous studies.
Issue Date:1985
Description:350 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1985.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8521800
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-15
Date Deposited:1985

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