Year

1991

Degree Name

Master of Arts (Hons.)

Department

Department of English

Abstract

This study analyses the angel/devil dichotomy in Henry Lawson's short stories and determines the reasons underlying this divided image. Written from a feminist perspective, the female characters are the focus of the work. Initially, the investigation discovered that women feature in substantially more of his stories than has hitherto been acknowledged. Secondly, it is established that these women can be categorised into discrete groups under the headings which title the chapters: "Little Girls", "Faithful Wives", "Haggard Women" and "Fallen Women". Within these groups, his women are represented as either "angels" or "devils", the stereotypical images of women in post Victorian fiction. Although this is fundamentally the case, frequently, his women are, at one and the same time, both "angels" and "devils", giving rise to the angel/devil dichotomy. Organised into five chapters, Chapter One defines and describes Lawson's ambivalent attitudes towards women, the reasons for this ambivalence and its influence on his writing. In particular, his relationships with his mother, Louisa, and his wife Bertha, and their influence on his representations of women, are analysed. Chapters Two to Five examine the angel/devil phenomenon in each of the categories of women, revealing the way in which Lawson's attitudes to each type, is reflected in his presentations of them. Finally, his lifelong love/hate obsession with women, is revealed.

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