Heaven and hell on earth: Flux and stasis in literary utopianism and naturalism
Hunter, David Earl, III
Aranda, Jose F., Jr.
Master of Arts
Literary utopianism and naturalism present apparently polar views regarding the possibilities and limitations of human agency: the former portrays humanity as having created a communal society based upon rationality, while the latter argues that people are victims consumed by their desires. This comparative study of Edward Bellamy's Looking Backward (1888), Frank Norris' McTeague (1899), Theodore Dreiser's Sister Carrie (1900), and Frank Baum's The Wizard of Oz (1900), postulates these fictions as examinations of whether life in America at the end of the nineteenth-century is inevitably caught in state of flux or whether it is possible to attain stability. Yet these works are less interesting for their ostensibly dominant perspectives on the human condition, than for their complicating elements which elevate the works above their prevailing philosophies and prevent them from remaining mere manifestos.
Comparative literature; American literature