The enemy within: Division and betrayal in literature of the Second World War

Phillips, James (2018). The enemy within: Division and betrayal in literature of the Second World War. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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Although descriptions of civilian experience during the Second World War tend to stress concepts of unity and the nation 'pulling together', much literature ofthe period repeatedly suggests division and distrust, and fears of an 'enemy within' that can be seen directly in the numerous fifth columnist plotlines and more indirectly through stories of personal treachery and duplicity. Here the work of a number of authors writing during World War II is examined, with close comparison of how themes of betrayal and mistrust are woven into their texts. This is placed in context through consideration both of government propaganda warning citizens of the dangers of spies and fifth columnists during the war and social fracturings along gender, class and political lines that were already in existence when war began. The 'enemy within' motif exists in a number of forms and discussion of this is extended to consider, for example, contemporary concerns that the increasing authoritarianism of the British government meant the country was moving towards the fascism it had gone to war to defeat, presentations of the home as an enemy space, and repeated depictions of fragmented identity and trauma that suggest the enemy also exists within the individual psyche.

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: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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