2 What’s In a Name?Miss Lonelyhearts: raises concerns over gender coding, social isolation, feeling and sentimentalityShrike: a bird, also known as the butcher- bird, which impales its prey upon thorns. The obvious reference to Christ is no doubt intended.
3 Course Connections Miss Lonelyhearts is often read as a text about: New England Puritanism (The Scarlet Letter)The workplace (“Bartleby”)A failed Walt Whitman (Song of Myself)A hysteric (“The Yellow Wallpaper”)(Failed?) personal growth (The Awakening)Words and deeds (As I Lay Dying)
4 Situating the Text The Great Depression Between 1929 and 1932 the income of the average American family was reduced by 40%, from $2,300 to $1,500. Instead of advancement, survival became the keyword.The Depression impacted every area of American life, having a significant effect on arts and culture.
5 Situating the TextAs a work of literature, the text presents as satire, allegory, and a novel of psychological development.It is primarily as a novel of psychological development, the key category into which the text falls, that we will discuss the text.
6 Satire:A topical literary work holding up human vices, folly, abuses, or shortcomings to censure by means of ridicule, derision, burlesque, irony, or other means, sometimes with an intent to bring about improvement.Examples of satire include: Gulliver’s Travels (Swift, 1726); Candide (Voltaire, 1759)
7 Allegory:A more or less symbolic fictional narrative that conveys a secondary meaning (or meanings) not explicitly set forth in the literal narrative. [Think of fables or parables.]Examples of allegory include: The Pilgrim’s Progress (Bunyan, 1678); Animal Farm (Orwell, 1945)
8 Novel of Psychological Development: Centers upon a gifted but incomplete individual and his/her struggle to become whole.This form of the novel is derived from the confessional tradition.Examples of the novel of psychological development include; The Sun Also Rises (Hemingway, 1926)
9 Miss Lonelyhearts and Religion Miss Lonelyhearts as a modern Christ figureMiss Lonelyhearts as Adam (story of the fall)Sin and redemptionShrike as SatanThe apocalypse, the temptation of Christ in the wilderness.Nathanael West’s rejected JewishnessWilliam James’s Varieties of Religious Experience
10 Miss Lonelyhearts and Gender Studies The repressed homosexual relationship between Shrike and Miss LonelyheartsThe designation of Miss Lonelyhearts under a feminine moniker.The question of misogyny in the text.
11 Miss Lonelyhearts and Psychoanalysis Miss Lonelyhearts as saint, psychotic, bothLife as progress toward deathMiss Lonelyhearts as hystericThe Oedipus complex: the Shrikes as Oedipal parents: the voice and the breastSadism and the perversion of love
12 Miss Lonelyhearts and Social Criticism The exploration of social illusions regarding happiness and fulfillmentA challenge to the notion that fulfillment can be achieved through nature, mysticism, self-sacrifice, sentimental love, or worldliness
13 Discussion Question #1Though Miss Lonelyhearts almost certainly has a Christ complex, Christianity is primarily addressed by the text in terms of failure. Why might this be? What are the implications?
14 Discussion Question #2Some critics have claimed that all suffering in the text is essentially female. Do you agree with this claim? Why or why not? What are the implications of such a reading of the text?
15 Discussion Question #3Is Miss Lonelyhearts an hysteric*? Why or why not? Considering our discussion of hysteria in “The Yellow Wallpaper” as a condition primarily ascribed to women, what are the implications of rendering Miss Lonelyhearts hysterical?*Note: For our purposes hysteria denotes an emotional excess.
16 Discussion Question Guidelines 10/22/08 and 10/23/08 Wednesday, October 22nd : Craft a question from a religion or gender studies perspective (Alex D., Mariah H.)Thursday, October 23rd : Craft a question from a psychoanalytic or social criticism perspective (Joanna H., Amber J.)