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《荆棘鸟》梅吉的爱情色彩分析

作者:第一论文网 更新时间:2015年10月26日 21:04:51

1.Introduction

If we say that love is the eternal theme of literature, then the woman is a topic never out-of-date. No love story can exist independently of women. The pursuit of love, freedom, marriage and independence, fight for equality and independence is the common theme in both the Chinese and foreign literary works. Based on the special Australian culture[1]21, The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough, a famous Australian writer, describes the personal and emotional experiences of three generations of the Clearies and portrays three strong-minded and kind-hearted female characters. Though they have paid great price in chasing love, their fighting against fate and persistent pursuit of love and happiness are really impressive. “Researchers in different times put forward various ideas and interpretation from multiple angles, such as religion and humanity, symbolic interpretation, feminist approach, moral themes. Some scholars examine the themes and characters from Mythical archetypes criticism theory. Although the novel is popular among readers and was translated into dozens of languages in the world, literary critics haven't attached that much significance to it” [2]8. 
The purpose of this thesis is to help the readers develop a correct view of love. The thesis first follows three women: Fiona, Meggie and Justine and set forth their views of love in their fights against fates. It then elaborates the comparison of the three heroines' views of love and their interior experience of awaking and growing. At last, the thesis tries to bring the roots of female's tragedy in the novel to light.


2. The main heroines' views of love

   View of love is people’s fundamental views and attitudes towards love. There are many famous views of love, such as Plato's “Platonic love“, the Christian concept of love and so on. The three main heroines' views of love are the reflection of that special period. For the purpose of making a comparison and achieving a better understanding of the novel, the thesis will focus on three women: Fiona, Meggie and Justine and display their views of love in their fights against fates.
“There is a legend about a bird which sings just once in its life, more sweetly than any other creature on the face of the earth. From the moment it leaves the nest it searches for a thorn tree, and does not rest until it has found one. Then, singing among the savage branches, it impales itself upon the longest, sharpest spine. And, dying, it rises above its own agony to outcrop the lark and the nightingale. One superlative song, existence the price. But the whole world stills to listen and God in His heaven smiles. For the best is only bought at the cost of great pain…. Or so says the legend ”[3]12 .The author started the novel with a legend of thorn birds which seemed to imply the tragedy atmosphere. In fact, the main heroines replenished all their strength to fight against fate like the thorn birds in the novel. After the only but the best singing, they got renascence and sublimation and illustrate the meaning of life. Compared with fate, love is frail but also tough. 

2.1 Fiona’s View of Love---Oppression
Fiona grew up in a noble family and was well-educated. Three males influenced her greatly in her life: Pakeha, Frank and Paddy. Paheka was Fiona’s true love and the only episode of love in Fiona’s life. Fiona fell in love with Paheka when she was young. . However, Pakeha who had already got married was a promising statesman. He could not live up all these and eloped with her. He could not leave his career, supporters and good life only for sake of a woman. It was neither realistic nor possible. It is said that women are blind when falling in love. To Fiona, it was true. Therefore, as a weak woman in the face of moral society, Fiona was severely punished. The pitiful woman was discarded by her noble family and forced by her brother to marry Paddy, a stockman. In spite of this, she missed Pakeha all her life. When she became the mother of Paddy’s children, she still submerged herself in the memory of the past. Fiona took her true love Pakeha as her home of soul. She suffered from this ever since and paid high cost for her true love. When Pakeha left her, Fiona sealed off her love and transferred all her love to Frank hoping to keep him all her life. Simple and honest, kind-hearted Paddy loved Fiona. However, the feeling of Fiona has nothing to do with love. “How had someone as lovely and refined as she married and itinerant shearer from the bogs of Galway? Wasting herself because she didn’t fit in with the wives of Paddy’s peers.” What's more, she did even not care of the children owned with Paddy. The back stone supported her to live was Frank. Frank is the crystallization of her love and also was the symbol of her love which can never get comfort and emotional sustenance. “But unfortunately, her deep love can not hold Frank. Frank broke away from home which was a fatal blow to Fiona. Since then, she became even more indifferent and silent to the reality. Her whole life was pursuing impossible dreams in her beautiful love memory” [4]28.


2.2 Meggie's View of Love—Resistance
   “If we say that Fiona's love is a war between another woman and the result of it is determined by the man she loved, while Meggie's love experience is much more painful than her mother's as her opponent is not a woman but God. She was doomed to be a loser from the beginning of the war” [5]72.
Fiona’s only daughter was Meggie, who was very strong- minded, independent and understanding. She inherited all good virtues from her parents. Growing up in the Clearly family, Meggie lacked love and care from Fiona and others during her childhood. Meggie was very different from Fiona compared with Fiona’s negative attitude, Meggie was more active. She was eager to hold her own happiness. When Meggie was young, she took Ralph as her brother. After growing up, she certainly regarded him as her lover and took it for granted that Ralph could give her brotherly love and stay with her forever. Meggie lives her life loving a man who won’t give up his ambition to be with her. When Ralph left Meggie to pursue fame and gain, a new lover and marriage was the best choice for Meggie. There’s another important reason that Ralph told her she had to. To Meggie, this is the way to “avoid” but “maintain” [6]30. Ralph. Though it was Luke’s physical feature that attracted Meggie, she was aware that in nature Luke was absolutely different from Ralph. Marriage represented happiness. With this idea, she took Luke as the messenger of happiness. So Meggie made up her mind to choose her happiness instead of staying in Drogheda recalling Ralph. Her positive attitude towards life brightened her eyes. Through her life, she searched for her true love and happiness all the time. Although she suffered a lot in the pursuit, she was never defeated. “Under great sufferings she was brave enough to face life and get along with people round her. Furthermore, she played the role of a guide in others’ life and helped them pursue happiness. Thus, on account of positive attitude towards life, Meggie was like a tenacious Pucao after a storm, which was still standing in the sun” [7]74.


2.3 Justine's Views of Love--Liberation

Treasonous woman compared with traditional woman, she was very characteristic. Justine was an unusual girl when she was born. In nature, she was independent and intractable. Justine didn’t seem to need a mother, since she was convinced that she was right about everything. Nor was she the sort of little girl who required a confidante, or warm approval. In Drogheda, neither Fiona nor Meggie has strong Catholic belief. Both seldom instilled Justine Catholistic belief. So Justine was totally out of the control of women’s morals emphasized in Catholism. Traditionally, women should be shy, tender, docile and diligent. In addition, bearing and rearing children is a kind of virtue. Justine knew how to do housework and was able to do it well. But she was terribly fed up with daily chores. By witnessing the grandmother and the mother's miserable life and the feedback from the fate of women, she was more resolute. Moreover, Justine refused marriage but was free from asceticism. Marriage to Justine was a concept that she was evasive and refused to approach. She scorned those housewives who took their children and husbands as their career. Without interest in being a wife, Justine regarded marriage as the curb of women’s freedom. She even never thought of having a baby. “Justine seemed only to have loved Dane. No one else, even herself”[3]438. Dane occupied important place in her heart. She was fond of him and even regarded him as her own property. And she took the priority in choosing partner. Justine never fawned on someone who had high social position. Later she chose to be an actress as her career and lived by herself. All these experience forged her to be a premature and experienced girl. However, the traditional way of thinking of the woman trapped in the depths of her soul. So she felt she could not love and can not accept the marriage. The heavy psychological burden made her rejected the marriage proposal. But fortunately, Renault helped her eliminate the psychological burden, and finally they led to a happy life. Generally speaking, Justine was active to master her own fate and deserved what she got at last.


3. The Comparison of the Three Heroines' Views of Love

   Fiona, Meggie and Justine are all brave in their fights against fate. They shared the similarities of strong self-awareness and unshaken spirit of resistance. However, their morbid views of love also made them hesitate at the crossroads. Owning to different life experience and cultural background, the three heroines’ views of love also differed in the attribution to love tragedy and the attitude to marriage.

3.1 The Similarities of Three heroines' Views of Love
3.1.1 Strong Self-awareness
   “Self-awareness is the awareness of the self as separate from the thoughts that are occurring at any point in time”[8]34.Without self awareness the self perceives and believes the thoughts that are occurring to be who the self is. “Self awareness gives one the option or choice to choose thoughts being thought rather than simply thinking the thoughts that are stimulated from the accumulative events leading up to the circumstances of the moment”[8]88 .
“Moreover, a series of recent studies showed that self-awareness about cognitive processes participates in general intelligence on a par with processing efficiency functions, such as working memory, processing speed, and reasoning”[9]34. Fiona, Meggie and Justine all attached importance to their inner heart and pursued marriage on the basis of love in face of heavy price. Fiona fell in love with a married man, but she wished to get married with him instead of being his lover. Though she was forced to marry poor Paddy, the happy memory with Pakeha never faded. Fiona was brave but far inferior to Meggie. She never covered up and gave up her love to Father Ralph even though Ralph abandoned her for his ambition. The reason Meggie married Luke was her desire for her own family but her crush on him. Justine was a girl who would not spend her time pining away for a man. She clearly declares: “I’m perfectly capable of thinking for myself. And I don’t need some bloody man always to tell me what I want and when I want it” [3]328. Justine also refused to confine herself to men and thought highly of self-value. They are their own master of love and showed the awakening of self-awareness.

3.1.2 Unshaken Spirit of Resistance

“In attempt to pursue happiness, women in west hemisphere always struggle against convention, moral criterion and tradition”[10]15. Actually, Fiona was a rebel against traditional virtue. Fiona not only offered herself up to her lover Pahekha but also had an illegitimate son named Frank with him which was morally unfit at that time. What’s more, Fiona inherited pride and adamancy from her family and was not beaten by her miserable fate. She tried to keep her cultivation and grace in her daily life. The weapon she fought against fate is silence.
Even if it was prohibited for Catholic clerk to get married, Meggie indeed challenged the authority of God. When her father tried to persuade her to give up her feelings to Father Ralph, to her father’s surprise she said: “But he could stop being a priest. It’s just that I haven’t had a chance to talk to him about it”[3]290. She never honestly brings herself to regard her relation with Ralph as “sinful” and never regretted her passion for Ralph, although she suffered with patience the various agonies that imposed on her. A clear evidence for this is in the last part of the book and it was also typical of her character: I did it all to myself, I have no one else to blame. And I can’t regret one single moment of it…when we put the thorns in our breasts, we know. We understand, And still do it. Still do it”3]511. Her attitude towards God changed from piety, suspicion to resistance. She was so brave to “steal” a son, Dane, from the servant of God.
Justine despised the paternity and never followed the tradition that marriage is the happy ending for women. Though anxious for true love, she refused to be men’s subsidiary. So she took priority in choosing her partner. Also Justine never fawned on people who had the higher social position. When Ralph came to Drogheda and her pious catholic brother Dane asked her to kiss Ralph’s ring, Justine refused and said that kissing a ring is unhygienic, “How do I know who kissed it last? They might have had a cold.”[3]650.


3.1.3 Morbid Views of Love
   Colleen McCullough,a writer and also a psychologist, is specialized in the field of female mental abnormality[11]8. Three women of Clearly Family Fiona, Meggie and Justine had abnormal views of love especially that of Fiona and Meggie can be regarded as Morbid views of love. They adhered to their love although it is impossible for them to achieve. Fiona fell in love with Paheka when she was only 16. While Paheka refused to abandon his career and family to marry her. Fiona wasted her whole life on recalling the beautiful but hopeless love memory. She was indifferent to anything and no one knew what she really thought, even her husband. Meggie married Luke as his appearance resembled Ralph’s who was just a replacement of Ralph. Justine stubbornly rejected marriage in the light of her mother's and grandmother’s unhappy marriage. Justine loved her brother Dane, but God took him away from her, which causes her pain and self-punishment .All of their views of love were twisted and harm to them.


3.2 The Differences of Three heroines' Views of Love
3.2.1 The Attribution to Love Tragedy
   Plato states in his Laws, “We ourselves are Poets who have to the best of our ability created tragedy that is the finest and the best; at any rate,our entire constitution is constructed as an imitation of the finest and best way of life---the very thing which we claim is the truest tragedy. He says it. Some love stories---the good ones---are tragedies: they involve the kind of love found in the best kind of life,a life that comes as close as Possible to the divine---one in which we achieve happiness by having good things be ours forever”12]41.
Fiona had been depressive and restrained for the female status and fate during her lifetime. She still followed her inner heart and rested her hope on Frank. At that time, this was the way she made a stand and fight against fate to the maximum. However, she can’t figure out the reasons of her tragedy. “Where do we go wrong?” Meggie asked Mum, In being born, Fee replies”[3]422. From her own experience, she thought women were doomed to misery. The long-term depression made her feel pity for women’s fate and come to hate women. In Meggie’s experience of love, falling in love with Ralph and marrying Luke is crucial for her. She was keenly aware of marriage and made the transition from the old conception to the new. She found out the roots of her tragedy was conventional religious belief and changed her attitude towards God from reverence to denounce. Meggie was more mature and strong-minded. So, on the Matlok Island when she has the time to think, she spoke to herself.
“Oh, dear God, dear God! No, not dear God! What’s God ever done for me, except deprive me of Ralph? We’re not too fond of each other, God and I. And do you know something, God? You don’t frighten me the way you used to. How much I feared you, your punishment! All my life I’ve trodden the straight and narrow, from fear of you. And what’s it got me? Not one scrap more than if I’d broken every rule in your book. You’re fraud, God, a demon of fear. You treat us like children, dangling punishment but you don’t frighten me anymore. Because it isn’t Ralph I ought to hate, it’s you. It’s all your fault, not poor Ralph’s”[3]547.
Unlike her mother and grandmother, Justine didn’t confine herself in marriage and family. “She seeks after freedom and self-value. Female of this generation was more independent and held the belief that nothing can dominate their happiness”[13]17.

3.2.2 The Attitudes towards Marriage
Fiona and Meggie spent their whole life in pursuing a happy marriage. And as to Maggie and Fiona, marriage was a woman's destination and their whole lives had been spent on the pursuit of a happy marriage. Meggie told Anne that she is just an ordinary sort of woman, not ambitious or intelligent of well-educated, all she wants is a husband, children, her own home and a bit of love from someone. On the contrary, Justine rejected, avoided and even despised marriage. Justine was very different from her predecessors. Marriage to Justine was a concept that she was evasive and refused to approach. When her mother asked her if she wants to get married, she put on a contemptuous look and said: “Not bloody likely! Spend my life wiping snotty noses and cacky bums? Slamming to some man not half equal even though he thinks he's better? Ho ho ho, not me!”[3]462. When Renault expressed his love to her, she was terrified to leave. Because she wanted to keep a man who can appreciate and cherish her everlasting, but Fiona and Meggie’s experience dreaded the loss of her nature. She desired marriage, at the same time, scared it. Comfortingly, instead of pride and indifference, Justine became a woman full of enthusiasm and love. She finally overcome the fears towards marriage and tied the knot with Renault.

4. The Origins of Different Views of Love
4.1 Subjective Reasons
The three heroines’ life experience affected their views of love. This highbred Fiona can lead a noble life, but she fell in love with a married man, and gave birth to a love child - Frank. In order to safeguard the reputation of her family, they forced her to marry a poor, humble herdsman. Simple and honest kind-hearted Paddy loved Fiona. However, the feeling of Fiona has nothing to do with love. What's more, she did even not care of the children owned with Paddy. The back stone supported her to live was Frank. Frank is the crystallization of her love and also was the symbol of her love which can never get comfort and emotional sustenance. She was indifferent and silent to the reality. Her whole life was pursuing impossible dreams in her beautiful love memory.
Meggie Cleary,the only girl of a Poor station family of a Passel of boys,she was neglected by her mother who “only sees her sons” who because male children are the “triumph of every woman’s life”[3]86. Except a short school life, she had almost no contact with modern civilization. At the same time, the pain would like to accompany her like a shadow to grow up: at the age of four, her favorite birthday gift was destroyed; the first day she went to school, she was ill-treated and whipping by the nurses, and his older brother who took pity on her ran away from home; the beloved little brother died in a fire. Ralph took little Meggie as his own daughter and offered her the love and reassurance she desperately needs. In the environment absence of friends and lack of maternal love, while Ralph brought her much comfort, she endured the pain and suffered in silence mainly on her own. Maggie and her mother walked in the same path of love, suffering the same winding road: they loved the one they should not love, but bent to get them, they went on their own ways for decades, eventually losing their beloved child. Women's fate is in the samara. But Maggie's fate was not that of her mother and not a simple repetition .In fact, Maggie was more progress ional than her mother. She began to understand the root cause of their own unhappiness. She boldly questioned the rationality of God. What's more, she determined to fight for Ralph with God.
To some degree, Justine shared the same childhood with Meggie. Justine and Meggie shared similar experience in their childhood. Both of them were ignored by their mothers. The real comfort in her childhood is Ralph and Meggie’s son, Dane. Justine and Dane grew up together, so they had deeply emotional attachment to each other. Justine took Dane as her home of soul. Young as she was, she took the responsibility of looking after Dane. Later she even became jealous if someone talked with Dane. Dane occupied the important place in her heart. As a premature, aggressive and experienced girl, Justine needed challenge and competition, and desired to be acknowledged by others. However, she could not get these stimulating from Drogheda. So she was always reluctant to go home every time when she had a holiday in school. It was also the reason why she chose being an actress as her career. Dane’s death was indeed a heavy blow to Justine.

4.2 Objective Reasons
4.2.1 Traditional religious and Moral Views
In history, the female have undertaken the heavy task of reproduction and all labor inside home. The patriarchy system, together with the creation of the private ownership, makes the females' natural attributes become an object of enslavement. “In the Nineteenth-century, the Australian culture is transplanted from British culture. The conservative view of female tied the women deeply”[14]8。In the traditional Western patriarchal society, women have been in a passive and subordinate position. In the patriarchy society, marriage is the only means for women to join society: if no one wants them, they may become discarded products, so their greatest fear is being pushed away. For they have got no independent economic position, they can only be decided by some male masters. To some degree, marriage reflects a women’s value in the society. To men, marriage is just a milestone necessary throughout his life, but to women, it is all. So is Fee’s destiny! Pakeha was the symbol of Patriarchal society; Patriarchal society safeguarded itself by conforming to male-dominated social structure. Men were the symbol of power, privilege and authority. On the contrary, women were subordinate and had little choose for their lives. Their whole lives lapsed in the repeated and monotonous house chores.
Ralph was the representative of religion which was also a fetter for women. The Puritan and Catholic church identifies the original sin with sexuality and holds that the spirit is a kind of fine substance,as it was Stoic Philosophy. As a Catholic priest, Ralph must remain unmarried and devote all himself to God. Also the conservative view of female tied the women deeply. Women were taught to believe in God sincerely and any desecration is severely punished. Ralph was the servant of God. Under such circumstance, Meggie and Ralph’s love meet with many obstacles.

4.2.2 Western Feminist Movement
Feminism refers to political, cultural, and economic movements aimed at establishing greater rights and legal protections for women. “Feminism includes some of the sociological theories and philosophies concerned with issues of gender difference. It is also a movement that campaigns for women's rights and interests. Feminist activists have campaigned for women's legal rights— such as rights of contract, property rights, and voting rights”[15]93.
Justine grew up during the Second-wave feminism. Second-wave feminism refers to the period of activity in the early 1960s and lasts through the late 1980s. “The scholar Imelda Whelehan suggests that the second wave was a continuation of the earlier phase of feminism involving the suffragettes in the UK and USA”[16]193. “Second-wave feminism has continued to exist since that time and coexists with what is termed third-wave feminism. At that time, more and more women realized the importance of equality and began to reclaim their career”[17]2. They tried to eliminate oppression based on gender and to gain equal economic and social rights as those enjoyed by men. They changed traditional perspectives on a wide range of areas in human life, from culture to law. They were no longer the mother and wife only. Justine is one of them.


Conclusion

  The Thorn Birds is one of novels the author has cherished for a long time and let the in-service teachers of English share when they come to refresh themselves in their further education programmes. Superficially, The Thorn Birds is an Australian family saga; in fact it is a struggling history of Australian women for their freedom, equality and female rights. This novel also brings the female consciousness into the social realm, accomplishes a breakthrough in female emancipation. By expounding and analyzing the three main heroines' views of love, this thesis exhibits the heroines' positive attitudes towards love and the greatness of human nature, which helps readers develop a better view of love. The above discussion of the three main heroines' views of love is by no means comprehensive but it can serve our purpose to improve the studies on The Thorn Birds and make the readers understand such a truth: the true and beauty should be attained with unimaginable cost.


Acknowledgements


My initial thanks go to my supervisor Ye Yiqun, who patiently supervised my dissertation and was at times very willing to offer me illuminating advice or suggestions. Without her help, I could not have finished this dissertation.
I am also indebted to other teachers and my classmates who have not only offered me their warm encouragement but also shared with me their ideas and books. They are Zhang Hui, Sun Yingzi and many others.
The remaining weakness and possible errors of the dissertation are entirely my own.

References

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我谨在此承诺:本人所写的毕业论文《<荆棘鸟>中主要女主人公爱情观比较》均系本人独立完成,没有抄袭行为,凡涉及其他作者的观点和材料,均作了注释,若有不实,后果由本人承担。
 
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