The parable of the prodigal son in the fiction of Elizabeth Gaskell

Ohno, Tatsuhiro (2019). The parable of the prodigal son in the fiction of Elizabeth Gaskell. University of Birmingham. M.Litt.

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The purpose of this dissertation is to analyse Elizabeth Gaskell’s three prodigal short stories—“Lizzie Leigh” (1850), “The Crooked Branch” (1859), and “Crowley Castle” (1863)—with reference to her major works in terms of the biblical parable of the Prodigal Son representing the principal Christian creed of the Plan of Salvation. The investigation into the three short stories in addition to her major works discloses the following three main features. First, the recurrent appearance of the Prodigal Son motif—committing sin, repentance, and forgiveness—in her characters’ lives and actions. Second, Gaskell’s change of depicting the prodigal by gradually refraining from inserting hints for its salvation—there are many hints in the first short story, almost none in the second, and few in the third. This change signifies the increase of her tendency to trust the reader’s imagination and discretion on her implication of the possibility of the prodigals’ salvation. Third, her constant depictions of the parents’ unfathomable compassion for the prodigal which implies there is no change in her faith in the Christian teaching of love for the suffered, or God’s love for His children. This scriptural reading might be applicable to any type of literature as its fundamental function is to depict the complexities of human life which proceeds in accordance with the Plan of Salvation if the doctrine is true.

Type of Work: Thesis (Masters by Research > M.Litt.)
Award Type: Masters by Research > M.Litt.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: Department of English Literature, School of English, Drama and American and Canadian Studies
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BR Christianity
P Language and Literature > PR English literature


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