The Mill on the Floss: George Eliot on Imagination and the Art of Sympathy

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The Mill on the Floss: George Eliot on Imagination and the Art of Sympathy

Type: Bachelor thesis
Title: The Mill on the Floss: George Eliot on Imagination and the Art of Sympathy
Author: Matthee, Marielle
Issue Date: 2015
Keywords: George Eliot
Mikhail Bakhtin
The Mill on the Floss
Art of Sympathy
Abstract: The art of sympathy constitutes an essential element in George Eliot’s concept of authorship. Regarding her novel The Mill on the Floss (1860), this thesis examines the function of imagination and how George Eliot seeks to develop this function within the realm of the realist novel. The thesis starts with describing Eliot's view on the art of sympathy influenced by e.g. Feuerbach's concept of double-consciousness and Hazlitt’s discussion of Shakespearean sympathy and how she thinks it should be applied to the realist novel. A second section proposes a new reading of The Mill on the Floss based on one of Bakhtin’s theories, as explicated in his essay Discourse in the Novel (1975). This is done to distinguish the narrator's voice from George Eliot's own voice and to examine what Eliot implies with the narrator’s different shifts (and inconsistencies). The next two sections present the narrator and the difficulties he has when telling the story of Maggie Tulliver. First, the thesis discusses the difficulty the narrator is faced with when he discovers that Maggie's characteristics and circumstances go beyond his scientific comprehension of life. Second, the thesis illustrates that when seeking the audience's sympathy for his character Maggie, the narrator is confronted with the inaptness of the contemporary literary conventions to do so. These last two sections give insights on how Eliot both explores and expresses the limits of its omniscient narrator’s knowledge and style, and experiments with how she can replace it with the ‘art of sympathy’.
Supervisor: Newton, Michael S.
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Engelse Taal en Cultuur (Bachelor)
Specialisation: BA English Language and Culture
ECTS Credits: 10

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