Matthew Bin

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




John Ferns




Arnold Bennett is best known for the realistic description in his work; few critics examine his success as a technician, and the general opinion of Bennett has been formed by essays written by famous critics who were unable to see what Bennett had achieved in his work. This thesis will show how Bennett's novels progressed from a tragic method in Anna of the Five Towns (1902) to an entirely non-tragic method in the Clayhanger trilogy (1910-16). Bennett's novels show a progression away from a tragic method, and towards a method that emerges from Bennett's developing idea that a great novelist must possess a "Christ-like, all embracing compassion" (Journal, 15 October 1896). Compassion is the defining characteristic of the method of Bennett's serious novels in this period. This understanding of Bennett's novels not only accounts for the structure of the novels themselves, but also helps to illuminate the nature of Bennett's place in the Edwardian period and in English fiction as a whole.

McMaster University Library