Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Fantasy stories have their roots in oral storytelling and fairy tales, but it was in the Victorian era that fantasy flourished and developed into a distinctive genre for children in the works of writers such as Lewis Carroll, George MacDonald, and E. Nesbit. Fantasy's coincidence with Romantic perceptions of the child helped to secure its acceptance by the public.
This thesis examines four works of children's fantasy through textual analysis situated within a socio-historical context, and argues that these four works criticize the society of their time and offer their own visions of better societies. The works examined are as follows: Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland (1865) and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There (1871), Norton Juster's The Phantom Tollbooth (1961), and Paul Stewart's The Thought Domain (1988). Using similar literary techniques, these novels express concerns about and perceptions of the child, the educational system and its goals for teaching the child, and other social problems arising from modernization in their respective socio-historical time periods.
Through their novels' fantasy worlds, Carroll, Juster, and Stewart offer alternatives to the societies in which their children live. They desire societies that are less egotistical and rigid in their thinking, and that have people in them who are more conscious of social problems, especially as they affect children. These three authors also desire societies that value children and their abilities more highly, and that are conducive to children's development.
To my knowledge, there have not been any previous, extended studies of luster's or Stewart's novels, nor comparisons between them and Carroll's Alice novels, so this study hopes to offers an original contribution, and also show how earlier fantasy works can influence those that come after.
Lim, Huai-Yang, "THEMES AND TECHNIQUES OF SUBVERSION IN THE CHILDREN'S FANTASY NOVEL FROM THE VICTORIAN TO THE CONTEMPORARY PERIOD" (1999). Open Access Dissertations and Theses. Paper 6628.
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