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Death and the Victorian Child: The Fetishising of Death and Mourning in Dickens' David Copperfield and Pater's "The Child in the House"
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2018 (English)Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis [Artistic work]
Abstract [en]

Named after a queen who spent most of her life in deep mourning, the Victorian era was a time characterised by new-found economic affluence and important advances in medicine and sanitation. Despite this, rates of child mortality remained stubbornly high. This resulted in a culture obsessed with mourning, but also with children, as the loss of a child was much more woeful than the loss of the elderly, or even the adult person. Within this cultural framework, the child that survives and thus gets to experience mourning and bereavement becomes an important locus for understanding Victorian-specific mourning and reactions to bereavement. The specific psychology of the child permits a unique perspective on death, as it is less tainted by the layered experience of adulthood and also bound to the child's level of development at the time of their experience with death. Do to the latter, Dr. Mark Speece's psychological study on the child's understanding of death will be applied to the characters discussed.

The titular character of Charles Dickens' David Copperfield, as well as the eponymous child in Walter Horatio Pater's highly autobiographical "The Child in the House" offer two very opposite perspectives on death - the realist, socially-infused view as opposed to the aesthetic, consummately individualistic. Using a primary Freudian psychoanalytical lens, we have found that despite the different approaches, both Dickens and Pater end up using the child's perspective to deliver a fetishised view of death and mourning.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2018. , p. 24
Keywords [en]
Victorian era, death, child, Dickens, Pater, Speece, Tambling, Whiteley, psychoanalysis, Freud, fetish, realism, aestheticism
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Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-157015OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-157015DiVA, id: diva2:1214224
Presentation
2018-05-30, F371, Stockholms universitet, SE-106 91, Stockholm, 11:30 (English)
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Available from: 2018-09-18 Created: 2018-06-06 Last updated: 2018-09-18Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
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