Term of Award

Fall 2008

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Department

Department of Literature and Philosophy

Committee Chair

Richard Flynn

Committee Member 1

Mary Villeponteaux

Committee Member 2

Caren Town

Abstract

After creating and sustaining highly Romanticized notions of childhood, society begins to protect children from the dangers that supposedly exist exclusively in adult reality, particularly death. Taking into consideration society's attitude towards childhood, this thesis closely examines the different ways in which authors deny death in children's literature. Nineteenth-century authors often use enchantment to create ways for children to survive in an otherwise cruel and deadly Victorian world. As social issues slowly begin to improve, death in children's literature moves away from an event that without magic cannot be ignored, to an occurrence far less likely to happen during childhood. However, as a result of such improvements, when death does occur during childhood, denial becomes an unavoidable emotional response to death. By evaluating the different ways in which authors deny childhood death in their literature, this thesis makes a connection between contemporary attitudes of children and denial of death.

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