University of Tasmania
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The development of the theme of suffering and redemption in the novels of Patrick White

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posted on 2023-05-27, 07:14 authored by Bernard, Ruth
There is a remarkable continuity and coherence of thought in the work of Patrick White. In this thesis, an attempt has been made to show the development of the underlying and recurring theme of suffering leading, ultimately, to redemption. It has been possible to trace a clear progression from the nihilism expressed in the first two books to a positive avowal of faith in the later and more mature novels. This seems to reflect a personal development in the author during the years 1939 to 1961, and, for this reason, his work has been treated chronologically. In chapters I and II, dealing with Happy Valley and The Living and the Dead, the suffering of the main characters is shown to reflect a sense of hopelessness and despair at the inevitable loneliness of man and at the futility of life itself. The Aunt's Story, discussed in chapter III, contains a more positive statement that truth is revealed to those who suffer; however, as revelation and peace seem attainable only in madness, the implicit hopefulness of The Aunt's Story remains questionable. There is a decisive change in the next book and this has been noted in chapter IV. In The Tree of Man, there is a very real attempt to see life in broader terms and to transform suffering into a beneficent experience, leading to humility and serenity. Humility is the key-word to Voss and the redemptive theme culminates in Riders in the Chariot. The author's concepts of humility, of good and evil, of revelation and redemption, are examined in chapters V and VI. Throughout, the imagery used by Patrick White, his symbolism, his mysticism, his predilection for the simple and simple-minded, even the mad, his violent reaction against the ugly manifestations of this \plastic\" age and its dehumanising effect on people his use of irony and social satire are related to his central theme. The theme itself is fundamentally religious: Patrick White proclaims his belief that by striving and suffering man is redeemable."


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Copyright 1965 the Author - The University is continuing to endeavour to trace the copyright owner(s) and in the meantime this item has been reproduced here in good faith. We would be pleased to hear from the copyright owner(s). Thesis (M.A.) - University of Tasmania, 1966. Includes bibliography

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