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Title: Entry into the 'world' in the 18th-century novel
Author: O'Brien, Christine
Awarding Body: University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1972
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In dealing with the youth's entry into the world, one focuses on the adolescent at his most dramatic moment, the transition from boyhood to manhood. He assumes his social being. Polite society, 'the world', is considered the only fit milieu for the young nobleman. Traditionally, his vocation is the world, in which he must uphold the family name, a consideration which influences the choice of the youth's career - either the Army or the Church, the traditional professions of the nobility - in which he is entered solely to further the family's honour and glory, perhaps in spite of his own personal wishes. His career is designed to supply him with the wherewithal necessary to uphold the noble life-style expected of him as a member of an ancient noble house. The parvenu has sufficient wealth to adopt the noble way of living, but he is generally presented as an outsider in polite society in which he figures as a boor. Nonetheless, the parvenu seeks above all else to be integrated into the privileged circle of polite society. The young peasant or bourgeois who wishes to rise in life sets ennoblement and acceptance within the noble circle as his goal. He frequently achieves his aim through the attraction he holds for women of greater rank and fortune than himself. He is allowed to succeed through women, but only if he humbly accepts the noble's supposed superiority. Woman plays an important role in the youth's education for the world, whether he is of noble or bourgeois extraction. Her traditional vocation is to help man, for she herself is of but secondary importance. And it is very rare that she revolts against the accepted pattern. For conformity is the keynote of harmony in 18th-century polite society. The youth is cast in a stereotyped mould as a young gentleman and he is expected to conform to traditional values and ideals. Similarly, his female counterpart and the young of humbler parentage are also conditioned to accept their roles within the social structure. Those characteristics which assimilate one to one's fellows in society must be developed; those which tend to the cult of the individual must be suppressed. It is from this insistence on the necessity of accepting polite society that arises the notion of the individual. This is the adolescent's revolt against society.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: English Literature