T. S. Eliot and the mother: ambivalence, allegory and form

Geary, Matthew Kevin (2016). T. S. Eliot and the mother: ambivalence, allegory and form. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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This thesis is the first full-length study on T. S. Eliot and the mother in thirty years. Responding to a shortfall in Eliot studies in understanding the true importance of Eliot’s poet-mother, Charlotte, to his life and works, it rethinks Eliot’s ambivalence towards women in the context of mother-son ambivalence, and shows his search for belief and love as converging with a developing maternal poetics. Utilising the work of feminist and psychoanalytic thinkers seeking to reinstate the mother against Oedipal models of masculinity, it looks at Eliot’s changing representations and articulations of the mother/mother-child relationship—from his earliest writings to the later plays. Particular focus is given to mid-career works: ‘Ash-Wednesday’, ‘Marina’, ‘Coriolan’ and The Family Reunion. Drawing on newly available materials, this thesis emphasises Charlotte’s death as the decisive juncture marking both Eliot’s New Life and the apotheosis of the feminine symbolised in ‘Ash-Wednesday’. Central to this proposition is a new concept of maternal allegory as a modern mode of literary epiphany. This thesis breaks new ground revealing the role of the mother and the dynamics of mother-son ambivalence to be far more complicated, enduring, changeable and essential to Eliot’s personal, religious and poetic development than was previously acknowledged.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Literature
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
URI: http://etheses.bham.ac.uk/id/eprint/6948


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