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WILLA CATHER AN ANALYSIS OF SOME WOMEN CHARACTERS IN HER NOVELS

Title
WILLA CATHER AN ANALYSIS OF SOME WOMEN CHARACTERS IN HER NOVELS
Authors
김한숙
Issue Date
1959
Department/Major
대학원 영어영문학과
Publisher
이화여자대학교 대학원
Degree
Master
Abstract
There are several kinds of women characters in WiIla Cather's novels. Lena, Kathleen, Pauline and Cecile are practical women. Mrs. Forrester and Marie are romantic ladies. Lillian and Rosamond love the extravagant living. Lucy and Dona Isabella are fantastic dreamers. Antoniette is the depraved woman. Augusta, Magdalena, and Sada are the most devout women in her novels. Alexandra and Antonia are the pioneers who stand out in front of us as the representative characters of her novels. Willa Cather found the materials of Alexandra's character while she was growing up with the foreign children in Nebraska. And in actual life, Antonia was the Bohemian girl who was kind to her. Willa Cather wrote about her girlhood: "I have never found any intellectual excitement more intense than I used to feel when I spent a morning with one of these pioneer women at her baking or buttter-making." Willa Cather was interested in the past and she could make her own experience significant, could make literature from it. She owed very mush to Miss Jewett from this point-of-view. Her characters are constantly recollecting past times, past tragedies, past glories and joys. Some of her novels seem to be composed almost entirely of reminiscences. She is not naturalist; her world is a poetized one where the brutal side of the country life is glossed over and where human passions are refined. There are many romantic qualities in her work. She is interested primarily in the past. Her ideal characters were foreign born immigrants, and they had many traditions. As Willa Cather chose her tradition in craftsmanship she is a traditionalist. Her novels chiefly deal with the characters rather than the incidents. Therefore her novels are not stories of plot, but chronicles. At the same time she is a humanist. Willa Cather is a realist. Most of her works are truthful. Mostly she wrote about the materials which she got from her girlhood and her journeys. Most of the women characters in Willa Cather's novels were pioneers; pioneers on the land and pioneers of the spirit. In her frontier novels the most victorious pioneers were not the men but the women. Alexandra and Antonia were the successful women pioneers. They were hard workers. They were strong not only physically but also spiritually. They struggled with the wild land, but never lost their strength. They had courage, hope, patience and a faith in the land, and also were self-sacrificing. Therefore they could create a new way of living in the new country. The majority of Willa Cather's female characters belong to this category of spiritual pioneers, including the religious women, of course. Willa Cather herself was a pioneer who wrote about the soil. She described the circumstances under which O Pioneers! had been written: "The 'novel of the soil' had not then come into fashion in this country. The drawing-room was considered the proper setting for a novel, and the only characters worth reading about were smart people or clever people..." Thus O Pioneers! marked the start of the series of frontier tales which established Miss Cather's reputation as one of the most gifted novelists of her period.
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