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On the Characterization of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence from James Phelan’s “Three-Dimension

时间:2020-06-29 21:47:43  来源:本站  作者:郎玲玲
On the Characterization of Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence from James Phelan’s “Three-Dimensional” View of Characters
郎玲玲[1]
(四川大学外国语学院,硕士研究生)
 

Abstract:Edith Wharton is one of the most important female writers in American literature. In her novel, The Age of Innocence, she tells the love stories of a young lawyer, Newland Archer, his fiancée, May Welland, and May’s cousin, Ellen Olenska. The characterization in the novel is essential for the development of the plot and the revelation of the theme. James Phelan’s “three-dimensional” view of characters not only focuses on characters and plots, but also focuses on the relationship between characters, plots, and themes. He divides characters in novels into three categories: “mimetic” characters, “thematic” characters, and “synthetic” characters. By applying Phelan’s “three-dimensional” view of characters, this paper aims to discuss the characterization of Wharton’s The Age of Innocence and its functions in the development of the plot and the revelation of the theme.

Key Words: James Phelan; “three-dimensional” view of characters; characterization; Edith Wharton; The Age of Innocence
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Contents
Introduction…………………………………………………………………1
Chapter One Mimetic Dimensions of the Characters in the Novel………3
1.1 The Mimetic Dimensions of the character: May Welland………………3
1.2 The Mimetic Dimensions of the character: Ellen Olenska………………4
1.3 The Mimetic Dimensions of the character: Newland Archer……………5
Chapter Two Thematic Dimensions of the Characters in the Novel…………7
2.1 The Thematic Dimensions of the character: May Welland………………7
2.2 The Thematic Dimensions of the character: Ellen Olenska………………8
2.3 The Thematic Dimensions of the character: Newland Archer……………9
Chapter Three Synthetic Dimensions of the Characters in the Novel………11
3.1 The Synthetic Dimensions of the character: May Welland……………11
3.2 The Synthetic Dimensions of the character: Ellen Olenska……………12
3.3 The Synthetic Dimensions of the character: Newland Archer…………13
Conclusion………………………………………………………………15
Notes………………………………………………………………………17
Bibliography……………………………………………………………18
 
Introduction
The Age of Innocence is a famous novel written by Edith Wharton. First published in 1920, the novel is a success. It has won the 1921 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction and Wharton is the first woman to win the prize. Born in a rich family, Wharton receives a good education and reads lots of books. Based on her own experience of the upper class society of New York, Wharton writes short stories and novels about the upper class society of New York. She is a prolific writer and starts to write stories from an early age. Apart from novels and short stories, she also writes poems and plays. Wharton is good at using irony in her works, which contributes to the success of the novel. The characterization of the novel is vital for readers to have a better understanding of the author and of the themes.   
Scholars at home and abroad have analyzed The Age of Innocence from different aspects. Their studies can be roughly divided into three categories:
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