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Title: Wandering between two worlds : Schopenhauer's pessimism, Feuerbach's optimism, and the quest for salvation in George Eliot and Thomas Hardy
Author: Brunning, Jane
ISNI:       0000 0004 2675 2577
Awarding Body: University of Central Lancashire
Current Institution: University of Central Lancashire
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis examines George Eliot's novel Middlemarch (1872) and Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure (1896) in the context of the philosophical quest for salvation in a secularising nineteenth century. This is a quest which retains an exalted ideal of human self-realisation, and foregrounds an ethical basis to the relationship between self and the world, individual and society. In the struggle between the potential for seeing the human as a reduced and ephemeral being, condemned to wander without object or value in an essentially purposeless world, and the quest for a still-transcendent vision of human possibility and a progressive future, pessimistic and optimistic visions of human place and the world are central. Fiction and non-fictional literature of the period interrogate the questions of human place, ethics, and destiny in both individual and social terms, and the role of philosophy in offering an alternative to religious constructions of the world is key for both Eliot and Hardy. Arthur Schopenhauer's pessimism is often recognised as having been influential on Hardy's work, while Ludwig Feuerbach's optimism is noted as having influenced Eliot. These two philosophies will be examined in detail, and measured against their value of and accessibility for ordinary existential human individuals in the world. This thesis makes an original contribution to current thinking by showing the extent to which Eliot's Middlemarch and Hardy's Jude develop dynamic relationships with both Schopenhauer's and Feuerbach's philosophical constructions of the world. This thesis shows that questions of optimism and pessimism rely on a complex set of relations, both in these two novels and in the philosophies of Schopeithauer and Feuerbach themselves, which belie previous critical tendencies to place all four writers in a polarised "pessimistic" or "optimistic" position, and reveals that both novels develop nuanced engagements with both pessimistic and optimistic visions of ethical salvation.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English literature by author