On the Features of Charlotte’s Web as a Children’s Novel毕业论文
1. Introduction ———————————————————————————–1
2. Demonstration ——————————————————————————–3
2.1 Unrealistic setting in Charlotte’s Web ————————————————— 3
2.1.1 An imaginary world ———————————————————————-3
2.1.2 Symbolic settings ————————————————————————-4
2.2 Cartoon characters in Charlotte’s Web —————————————————5
2.2.1 The pig Wilbur —————————————————————————-6
2.2.2 The spider Charlotte ———————————————————————-6
2.2.3 The rat Templeton ————————————————————————7
2.3 Allegorical plots of Charlotte’s Web —————————————————–8
2.3.1 The plot of Charlotte’s weaving words on her web to save Wilbur’s life ———8
2.3.2 The plot of Wilbur’s leaving home and returning home —————————–9
2.3.3 The plot of Fern’s understanding animals’ conversations ————————-10
2.4 Instructive themes of Charlotte’s Web ————————————————–11
2.4.1 The theme of growth ——————————————————————–11
2.4.2 The theme of friendship —————————————————————-12
2.4.3 The theme of life and death ————————————————————12
- Conclusion ———————————————————————————-13
Works Cited ————————————————————————————-15
On the Features of Charlotte’s Web as a Children’s Novel
Elwyn Brooks White (1899-1985) was a famous contemporary American essayist and critic. The style of his essays is cold, spicy, humorous and appealing. White was born in Mount Vernon, New York. During White’s childhood, his nervousness and discomfort in talking made him prefer to express his feelings and thoughts with writing. He submitted several pieces of his writing to some children’s magazines. From that time on, he has set his minds on becoming a writer in the future. In 1918, after being demobilized, White entered Cornell University, which was a good place for a young man to write. One year later, the editor of New Yorker, Harold Ross, invited White to join them. White began to write a column named “Newsbreaks”, which consisted of news items from other newspapers, and White was in charge of adding a pithy punch line to the news. White’s subtle sense of humor and witty language were perfectly suitable for this column, and White persisted in writing this column for 56 years.
White has created lots of outstanding essays, which have brought him a prestigious reputation. Among them, the most famous ones are Once More to the Lake (1941), and The Ring of Time (1956). His well-known works include One Man’s Meat (1942), Here is New York (1949), The Second Tree from the Corner (1954) and so on. During White’s writing life, the subjects of the pleasures of urban and rural life, the complexities of modern society, war and internationalism are what E. B. White loves to write about. Besides, he has interest in “the small things of day” and “the trivial matters of the heart” (Guth 79) and these topics are reflected in his early poems, The Fox of Peapack and Other Poems (1928) and The Lady is Cold (1929). In 1941, a prose works Is Sex Necessary? coauthored with James Thurber, was published. It was from then that White first gained prestige. The collection of essays One Man’s Meat, which is an authentic depiction of his rural experiences, was published in 1942 and critics considered this collection as White’s best book. Besides essays, E. B. White also wrote three novels for little readers: Stuart Little (1945), Charlotte’s Web (1952) and Trumpet of the Swan (1970). Although they are written for children, both children and adults like them. Because of his contribution to American literature, White won the National Medal for Literature in 1971, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for all his works in 1978.
Charlotte’s Web is a classic work of children’s literature. Bennett Cerf claims that “if there’s only one book of the current season still in circulation fifty years hence, it will be Charlotte’s Web.” (Guth 298) Its interesting plot and emotional fantasy remain fresh in reader’s memory, which cultivate children’s sentiments, friendship, and instruct children the meaning of life. The novel tells a touching story between the pig Wilbur and the spider Charlotte. When Wilbur is in danger of being slaughtered, small Charlotte decides to spare no effort to save the life of Wilbur. Finally, Charlotte makes a miracle on the sty with her own silk. She tries to save the piggy Wilbur by weaving the shocking words on the web, which totally turns the fate of Wilbur around and offers him a chance to win the contest held in the county fair and a peaceful future as well. At the end of the story, Charlotte sacrifices herself, but her descendants get along well with Wilbur. Charlotte weaves a special web full of love and friendship at the expense of her own life. Children’s life is simple and naive, and they rarely think about the deep topics such as the meaning of life. But by reading Charlotte’s Web, they could improve their understanding of beauty, deepen their understanding of and enrich their experience about society and life, and then get the true meaning of life through the different ways and different attitudes of the little mouse Templeton and the little spider Charlotte to treat a friend.
A lot of scholars have done researches on Charlotte’s Web since its publication, focusing on different areas. Foreign critics have interpreted this novel from such perspectives as psychology, post-colonialism, philosophy and so on. Chinese researches on the novel are less than foreign studies, mainly concentrating on its themes. As for the critical perspective, they mainly prefer eco-criticism and aesthetic criticism. The interpretation of the novel varies from person to person. As a classical children’s novel, Charlotte’s Web has more features of children novels than many other children’s literary works. However, few scholars have paid attention to this point. Thus, this thesis tries to explore features of children novels by analyzing Charlotte’s Web in detail.
The thesis consists of three parts. An introduction of the author’s life experiences and his works, the plot of Charlotte’s Web and the literature review both at home and abroad are shown in the first part briefly. The second part focuses on discussing the features of the children’s literature reflected in the novel mainly from four perspectives, namely, the settings, the characters, the plot, and the themes. The third part concludes that Charlotte’s Web displays features of children’s novels successfully and acknowledges its great achievements in children’s literature. In short, different from most researches on Charlotte’s Web, this thesis focuses on the features of the children’s literature reflected in Charlotte’s Web. It deepens readers’ understanding of Charlotte’s Web and the artistic techniques of E. B. White.