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Journalism & Communication
Pages 14 (3514 words)
English Literature (Classic and Modern) “In the novel we can know people perfectly” – E. M. Forster, Aspects of the Novel. Discuss this idea in relation to the novel The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath and “Women and Fiction” by Susan Cahill (Introduction).
Both are aware that the novel is not “real” in any factual or historical sense, but that nonetheless there are elements of the narrative that can be recognized as valid, “true to life” and worthy of reflection. The literary critics E.M. Forster and Susan Cahill have examined such notions about the nature of fictional writing, and their very different views can contribute to a deeper understanding of modern novels. This paper considers both Sylvia Plath’s novel The Bell Jar and Susan Cahill’s approach to women’s literature, and examines them in the light of Forster’s key observation that “in the novel we can know people perfectly.” (Forster, 2005, 69) Forster discusses many so-called “aspects” of the novel including such matters as plot, fantasy, and structure, but he devotes two whole chapters in the centre of the book on the subject of “people.” He highlights ability of Dickens, in the character of Pickwick, for example, to sketch life-like characters: “Nearly everyone can be summed up in a sentence, and yet there is this wonderful feeling of human depth” (Forster, 2005, 76) In Forster’s view, the novel has enduring features when it comes to characterization. In this genre the omniscient author presents us with all we need to know about a person. ...
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