The Image of the Child in Selected British and American Novels

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In this thesis, an attempt has been made to examine the representation of fictional child characters in Stevenson's Treasure Island, Dickens's Oliver Twist and Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer based on a psychological framework of analysis evolved from Bronfenbrenner's theory of human development and selected aspects of developmental psychology. Both psychology and literature study human behavior although psychology observes human behavior directly from real life, whereas fiction deals with a reflection of reality. Focus has been on textual and extra-textual details since the literary texts are considered as psychological and sociological documents and are examined in relation to their respective Macrosystems. Attention has also been paid to the discourse and pragmatic features that the characters use in dialogues. Therefore, the correlation between the cognitive, psychosocial and pragmatic ski lls that the child protagonists display has also been considered. In addition, the literary techniques that the novelists use to highlight behavioral traits of the child protagonists, or to create literary effects, have been touched upon wherever such features appear in the novels. The findings of this study have been discussed in chapter seven in relation to other critics' opinions on the child protagonists that have been analyzed in this study. By applying a psychological framework of analysis, the present researcher tried to probe into the cognitive and psychosocial aspects of the child characters' behavior. She feels that applying parameters selected from developmental psychology to literature helped her to make an objective analysis of characterization. Some reviewers, for instance, stated that Oliver Twist, in Dickens 's Oliver Twist, and Tom Sawyer, in Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, are different from other children belonging to their age group, but they did not provide a theoretical explanation for such behavior. Therefore, thi s study has contributed something new by identifying the cognitive and psychosocial aspects of late childhood, early adolescence and gifted children that the child protagonists of the selected texts display in their behavior. Besides, although the child protagonists analyzed in thi s study lived in different Macrosystems, they share similarities, which can be attributed to the fact that they represent universal children.On the other hand, they also possess individual behavioral traits which distinguish them from one another. To sum up, this research is only a modest attempt at showing that it is possible to analyze fictional characters based on an eclectic approach derived from developmental psychology, literary criticism, discourse analysis and pragmatics because the nature of literature is such that it can respond to different approaches to literary analysis and interpretation ..



Child in Selected British and American Novels