The Realist Novel

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PART ONE – General Essay Question (60%)

Answer ONE of the essay questions below. You should discuss TWO novels from the module – one of which must be either Hardy’s Jude the Obscure or Fowles’ The French Lieutenant’s Woman or Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe Give equal weight to the texts in your discussion, and do not repeat arguments or materials used in your essay for Component 1.

 

You should spend no more than TWO HOURS on this question.

 

  1. Ian Watt has suggested that – like the capitalist ideology which contributed to its birth – the novel’s “aim is never merely to maintain the status quo, but to transform it incessantly”.       To what extent would you endorse the idea that this desire for change or transformation underpins the realist novel?

 

  1. Analyse the view that the realist novel prioritises class in its representation of the human experience.

 

  1. It has been said that the classic realist novel places its characters within an ethical, morally coherent universe.       Analyse the extent to which that assessment seems true for your chosen texts.

 

  1. Explore how your texts use gender identity as a vehicle for interrogating the prospects for social change.

 

  1. In what ways do two of the novels studied offer commentary upon the cultural status of the genre in the period of their production?

PART TWO – Form and The Novel (40%)

Answer ONE of the essay questions below. Use at least TWO novels from the module, but do not use a text you have discussed in Part One above. Do not repeat material from your essay for Component 1. Chosen Books : Dicken’s Great expectations and Austen’s Pride and Prejudice

 

  1. Discuss the view that in the realist novel landscape and place are never merely settings where the action of a story takes place; rather, they are integral to the narrative’s meaning, an aspect of the text to be read socially, symbolically and psychologically.
  1. Compare/contrast the techniques in characterisation used by your authors. What do these methods specifically contribute to the development of these narratives as insightful or provocative commentaries on society?

 

  1. Throughout the semester we have explored various approaches to assessing the methods employed by our novelists to create the illusion of “realism”. Apply some of these ideas to your chosen texts: how do they influence the interpretation of these works as a whole?

 

  1. Malcolm Bradbury notes that within the British novel, ‘history itself has been transformed into a storehouse of images and icons’ (The Modern British Novel: 1878-2001, p.538). Examine the ways in which two or more of the authors studied use images and icons from the past in their novels. (You may refer to the module’s texts which fall outside of the period that Bradbury isolates.)

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