Ironic designs in the exotic short fiction of W. Somerset Maugham

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dc.contributor.advisor Jennings, C. Wade en_US Barker, Debra Kay Stoner en_US 2011-06-03T19:22:52Z 2011-06-03T19:22:52Z 1989 en_US 1989
dc.identifier LD2489.Z68 1989 .B37 en_US
dc.description.abstract This study analyzes the expression of Maugham's ironic vision in his short stories set in the South Seas and Southeast Asia. Through point of view, setting, character, and plot, Maugham explores the dialectic of expectation outcome, hope-disappointment, and illusion-reality. In the exotic short stories, not only do Maugham's characters confront this dialectic, but readers do as well. Using irony as a heuristic, Maugham prods his readers into rethinking unexamined assumptions about human nature and about the often disillusioning repercussions of clinging to ideals or having unrealistic expectations of life.The narrative voice in Maugham's stories, whether that of the omniscient or the dramatized first-person narrator, draws attention to the discrepancy between the ideal and the actual, using irony to highlight characterization as people are shown to be something other than they might be or what they are. Further, the narrators also establish a context for irony by inviting readers to share their insights on characters and conflicts, thereby emphasizing their distance from the characters who speak and act in ignorance of the actual state of affairs.Relying upon the conventions of realism, which assumes that man may find his destiny shaped by his responses to an environment, and using that environment to achieve artistic ends, Maugham demonstrates that setting generates irony as it precipitates tension, conflict, and sudden revelations of character. In other instances, the irony grows from Maugham's explorations of his characters' expectations of the exotic settings, suggesting that the tropical paradises are places of nightmares, as well as dreams.The volatile combination of setting and character often erupts in shocking plot reversals that have become the hallmark of Maugham's narrative techniques. The ironies of plot surface as characters and the first-person narrators confront realities that have been hidden or that have been denied. In many cases, the characters and the narrators have allowed their ideals or expectations to mislead them or cloud their judgment. Other plot ironies occur with the frame stories, as the narrators connect the fictive world of the story to the factual world of the reader, thus juxtaposing the ironic dialectic of reality and fiction.Throughout the exotic short stories, the designs of Maugham's narrative technique suggest that irony effectively expresses his philosophic stance on the ambiguity of human motives and the futility of idealism. en_US
dc.description.sponsorship Department of English
dc.format.extent 236 leaves ; 28 cm. en_US
dc.source Virtual Press en_US
dc.subject.lcsh Irony in literature. en_US
dc.subject.other Maugham, W. Somerset (William Somerset), 1874-1965 -- Criticism and interpretation. en_US
dc.title Ironic designs in the exotic short fiction of W. Somerset Maugham en_US Thesis (Ph. D.) en_US
dc.identifier.cardcat-url en_US

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  • Doctoral Dissertations [3248]
    Doctoral dissertations submitted to the Graduate School by Ball State University doctoral candidates in partial fulfillment of degree requirements.

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