An examination and interpretation of narrative features in 'A Rake's Progress'

Cowley, Robert L.S (1972). An examination and interpretation of narrative features in 'A Rake's Progress'. University of Birmingham. M.A.

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A Rake's Progress is examined to discover in what ways a pictorial narrative can be narrative in a literary sense. The personality, actions, and background of the central character are considered from established literary-dramatic points of view in the body of the thesis. The Rake is seen as both a well-defined individual and a universal study of a reactionary who aspires towards ancient ideals; a mock-hero in a complex work. An explanation of misunderstood and neglected details is attempted and it is shown how they contribute effectively to what is thought to be a coherent work. It is argued that the heroine is not a pathetic and unfortunate addition to the story, but that she is an integral part of Hogarth's imaginative thought. His detached attitude towards her is considered as major evidence of a comic and melodramatic style. In the third part Hogarth's treatment of recurrent emblems is compared to the poetic purposes of iterative imagery and it is claimed that Hogarth's religious "imagery" shows that the progress is a multi-layered allegory. It is claimed in the conclusion that Hogarth manipulates his authorial viewpoint and chooses what he is prepared to disclose or not to disclose like a writer; that the symmetry of the work is comparable to the appearance of a short poem; that Hogarth's progresses offer a unique quality of multiplicity to the concept of narrative; that there is evidence which shows that Hogarth maintained a close relationship with his subscribers, anticipating that of Dickens; that A Rake's Progress represents a transitional work between simple, picaresque fictions and philosophically more complex ones.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.A.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.A.
College/Faculty: Faculties (to 1997) > Faculty of Arts
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)


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