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Title:Character Change and Stability in Three Novellas by Conrad Ferdinand Meyer: A Study of Symbols
Author(s):Swartzbaugh, Dorothy Louise
Department / Program:German
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Literature, Germanic
Abstract:This dissertation examines the theme of character change and stability in three of Conrad Ferdinand Meyer's novellas, Jurg Jenatsch (1874), Der Heilige (1879), and Die Hochzeit des Monchs (1883). The characters exhibiting change, Jurg, Thomas, and Astorre, are compared and contrasted with those exhibiting stability, Lucretia, Heinrich, and Ezzelin. Each novella is scrutinized separately in detail, with particular attention given to symbols. Just as Heinrich Henel examined the development of Meyer's symbols in a succession of poems, so does this dissertation examine specific symbols progressively through these three works. Finally an overview of the three novellas looks at the phenomena of change and stability comparatively and progressively in terms of Meyer's developing attitudes and perception of the world.
The figures of change manifest a trend from the dominant personality of Jurg to the dominated one of Astorre while those of stability indicate reasonable certainty in Lucretia to confusion in Ezzelin. Whereas in Jurg Jenatsch both forces of change and stability are fairly equal, there is no counterforce of stability in Die Hochzeit des Monchs to neutralize the extreme change of Astorre.
Change in Jurg is active, in Thomas both active and passive, and in Astorre passive. The lack of dominance of Astorre in Die Hochzeit des Monchs is evident in the use of symbols. Whereas the symbol of flame represents for Jurg so many options, love for Lucretia, revenge, and love of country, and thereby gives him freedom, Astorre is completely dominated by the symbol of flame representing his consuming passion for Antiope.
Character stability is seen in Lucretia, yet diminished in Heinrich and almost totally nonexistent in Ezzelin. Lucretia has both a set of principles and self reliance. Heinrich has few moral principles yet still believes in his own power as king. Ezzelin lacks moral principles and has little confidence in his power. Significantly, Ezzelin is the only main character not to be described in terms of the flame.
As change and chaos intensify, the form of the novella becomes more elaborate, and the symbol language is more intense. The overall effect in Die Hochzeit des Monchs is a world which is pessimistic, closed and lacking in freedom, and relativistic, a society without meaning.
Issue Date:1982
Description:151 p.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1982.
Other Identifier(s):(UMI)AAI8303001
Date Available in IDEALS:2014-12-16
Date Deposited:1982

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