An Analysis of Nihilism in Flannery O’Connor’s Short Stories毕业论文_英语毕业论文

An Analysis of Nihilism in Flannery O’Connor’s Short Stories毕业论文

2021-04-02更新

摘 要

弗兰纳里·奥康纳被誉为20世纪美国南方的杰出女作家之一, 其作品结合了荒诞的写作手法、浓重的宗教色彩与南方地域风格,在向读者展示一个虚无思想泛滥的世界的同时,还描述了一个充满原罪的罪人世界。虽然处于虚无思想弥漫的特定时代背景下,但奥康纳始终秉持着坚定的宗教信仰和高度的社会责任感,凭借犀利独特的文笔勾勒出当下的虚无世界及其带来的可怕恶果,从而起到警世之效。本文选取奥康纳的三部短篇小说—《好人难寻》、《河》、《善良的乡下人》,从虚无主义的哲学角度具体分析其小说中的人物形象及其最终命运,从而探析现代社会的信仰缺失与精神虚无的困境,告诫现代人应如何走出虚无的深渊。

关键词:弗兰纳里·奥康纳;短篇小说;虚无主义;拯救

Contents

1.Introduction 1

2. Demonstration 2

2.1 A brief introduction to nihilism 2

2.2 Factors leading to nihilism 3

2.2.1 The absurd and unfair society 4

2.2.2 The alienation and estrangement 5

2.3 Nihilism reflected by the major characters 6

2.3.1 The Misfit and the grandmother in A Good Man Is Hard to Find 6

2.3.2 Harry and his parents in The River 7

2.3.3 Joy and a Bible salesman in Good Country People 8

2.4 Disillusion of nihilism 8

2.4.1 Violent salvation — ruin and reestablishment 9

2.4.2 Self-salvation — escape and pursuit 10

3. Conclusion 10

Works Cited……………………………………………………………………………………………………12

Bibliography…………………………………………………………………………………………………..13

An Analysis of Nihilism in Flannery O’Connor’s Short Stories

  1. Introduction

Flannery O’Connor (1925-1964), born in a devout Roman Catholic family in Savannah, Georgia, and regarded as one of the foremost writers, exerted great influence on American literature in the 20th century. In her lifetime, O’Connor left a literary legacy of thirty-one short stories and two novels, which have attracted a mass of full-length researchers and her death from lupus at the very young age of 39 was considered as a tremendous loss to American literature. Allen Charlotte once remarked O’Connor as “one of the greatest American writers of the 20th century, perhaps second in stature only to fellow southerner William Faulkner” (Charlotte 114). During O’Connor’s lifetime, Americans experienced several wars, such as World War II, the Cold War and wars in North Korea, which constantly impacted on their old world outlooks and value conceptions. Though economy and technology developed rapidly at that time, the confusion of values, bankruptcy of morality and nihility of spirit caused serious cultural and belief crisis in America, which aroused O’Connor’s deep thoughts about ordinary people’s spiritual crisis.

At home and abroad, large quantities of Flannery O’Connor’s criticisms focus on the grotesque characters, religious salvation, racial issues and so on, while other themes like philosophical ideas have long been overlooked. Scholars are rarely willing to delve into the relationships between philosophy and artistic creations, and only few of them have paid attention to O’Connor’s philosophical ideas, especially nihilism. For example, Luo Nan (2006) explored nihilism in O’Connor’s works at full length. She pointed out that O’Connor shows great concern for people’s lack of belief and spiritual emptiness, and attacked the idea of nihilism so as to warn people against it. Besides, based on O’Connor’s first novel Wise Blood (1952), through analyzing the plot and characters, Wu Junzhen (2010) discovered the protagonist’s emotional processes of falling into nihilism and getting rid of it. Meanwhile, he expressed O’Connor’s critical attitude towards nihilism. What’s more, Su Jianrong (2011) described protagonists’ spiritual crisis and demonstrated that people suffering from spiritual emptiness may have the chance to get salvation. Compared with researches from these perspectives, there are limited studies focusing on nihilism and most of them are repetitive and lack of originality.

In conclusion, scholars at home and abroad have deeply explored O’Connor’s works from different perspectives, while analysis and interpretations from the philosophical idea of nihilism are insufficient. Therefore, based on Flannery O’Connor’s three short stories—A Good Man Is Hard to Find, The River, Good Country People, this thesis aims to analyze nihilism reflected by major characters, and thereby to expose people’s alienated psychology in the shadow of nihilism and explore the plight of spiritual crisis in the modern society. This thesis is composed of three parts. First of all, the Introduction introduces the writer Flannery O’Connor, the historical background, relevant researches and the innovativeness. Secondly the Demonstration expounds the concept of nihilism and its factors, and then it concentrates on the concrete textual analysis of major characters in order to illustrate nihilism. What’s more, it focuses on the possibilities of disillusion of nihilism based on major characters’ tragic fates to find out how to get rid of nihilism. One is violent salvation by violence and worship reestablishments. The other is self-salvation by escaping reality and pursuing faith. Finally, the Conclusion sums up the significance of the research and its social implication.

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