John Fowles and the Gothic tradition

Vassilieva, Elena (2004) John Fowles and the Gothic tradition. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


This thesis examines the elements of the Gothic tradition in John Fowles's fiction and traces the transformation of the male protagonist throughout the entire range of Fowles's novels. The work also investigates the relationship between the discourses of the literary Gothic and Jungian psychoanalysis and argues in favour of a strong conceptual link between them. Taking advantage of the fact that John Fowles was interested in Carl Jung's ideas, the thesis argues that Jungian psychology throws light on the evolution of Fowles's texts and reveals that each hero performs a phase in a distinct pattern of development and maturation as conceptualised by Jung (Fowles, 1998: 371). In addition, Jungian discourse interacts with the Gothic tradition and complements the presence of elements of the Gothic discourse in Fowles's novels. The thesis inscribes Fowles's dialectical approach to writing into the history of the literary Gothic tradition as well as into the scope of postmodern texts. Central to the thesis theoretically is the Jungian concept of individuation. Apart from the separate quests in individual novels, Fowles's fiction can be defined as displaying one continuous individuation process. The Fowlesian male character takes part in one long meta-quest which begins with his being too hedonistic and immature (Clegg, Nicholas), then becoming rational and conscious (Charles, David), and finally reaching a state of 'synthesis' in which the two parts of the psyche are reconciled (Daniel Martin). In the first two stages, the forces which become repressed as a result of the over-development of one of the sides of the psyche, tend to produce a Gothic effect in relation to the male character as they fight for the right to be accepted and recognised. In the last phase of his writing career, Fowles shifts his focus to the process of female individuation. In 'A maggot' the writer's attention finally switches from the masculine experiences and pains of development to interest in female versions of the quest for knowledge.

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