Spiritual Alienation in >Winesburg, Ohio< [《小镇畸人》中的精神异化], Master thesis, English Language and Literature, Capital Normal University, Beijing, China 2013 [application of Fromm's theories to art].

  • 舍伍德•安德森的《小镇畸人》以充满感情的笔触描述了十九世纪后期美国中西部小镇的生活风貌。小镇上的居民饱受清教道德规范和资本主义价值观的双重压迫,他们疏于交际,思想和行为十分古怪,他们与自身和小镇上其他居民的关系发生了异化。安德森通过描写这些怪人的外貌和拙于交际来表现他们精神上的异化,在那个日益冷漠的社会里,个人的内心充满矛盾。在《小镇畸人》中,困扰个人的一个核心问题就是他们的本能冲动与他们的价值观念之间的冲突。他们内心希望采取行动克服异化,但他们的能力和欲望都受到了压制。本文采用存在主义哲学家萨特、弗洛姆和塞曼的观点解析《小镇畸人》中的异化现象。萨特强调人的主观意识在人的异化过程中的作用。他认为,人的痛苦源自他意识到自己在受折磨。他还指出,人害怕面对>他者<。人在面对>他者<时会感到自己是异类,无法找到归属感和安全感。萨特还指出人会被迫接受错误的价值观念,导致自身异化,他把这种行为定义为>不诚<(bad faith)。本文试图应用萨特的异化理论分析《小镇畸人》中人物异化的根源。埃里希•弗罗姆在分析人的异化原因时,强调缺乏归属感是导致人异化的重要因素。他认为人需要归属感,渴望被他人接受,被他人需要,为了找到这种归属感,人不得不背弃本我,遵从被社会普遍接受的价值观念和道德规范,而这种屈从最终导致了人的异化。梅尔文•塞曼借鉴了马克思和埃米尔•迪尔凯姆的异化理论,提出异化的>五维度<:权力缺乏、意义丧失、规范缺失、社会隔离、自我疏远。异化的这五个方面在《小镇畸人》中均有所体现,本文也要借鉴塞曼的观点来分析《小镇畸人》中人物的异化。本文结合存在主义哲学家的异化理论和安德森对当时文化的理解,探究导致小镇居民异化的根源。造成小镇居民异化的罪魁祸首是工业化和清教主义。受资本主义金钱至上价值观的影响,小镇居民盲目追求物质财富,人与人之间的关系变得冷漠,爱的丧失是导致他们异化的根本原因。在高度发达的机器工业面前,小镇居民感觉自己微不足道,无力掌握自己的命运,对自身价值的否认和无能感也导致了他们的异化。在多重价值观的冲击下,小镇居民信仰的动摇以及面对他者时的困惑与恐惧也是导致他们异化的主要因素。他们拙于辞令,生性懦弱,不敢把自己的想法告诉他人,这也阻碍了他们之间的相互理解。他们无法在自己的本能欲望与信仰之间找到平衡,在新时代中找不到生命的意义,从而产生失落感,这些都是导致他们异化的重要因素
  • Sherwood Anderson’s >Winesburg, Ohio< is a vivid and realistic account of a late nineteenth century Midwestern small town, where the tyranny of Puritan morality is amalgamated with the brutality of industrial capitalism. Anderson’s characters are depicted as socially awkward and alienated from themselves and their fellow townspeople. The grotesques, or emotionally-crippled souls, are depicted by means of their appearance and their inability to communicate. The plight of the individual in an increasingly indifferent world is Anderson’s thematic concern. In Winesburg, Ohio, the central issue confronting the individual is the conflict between his/her instinctive desires and his/her values. The characters strive to struggle against their alienation, yet they suffer from the repression of their instincts and their potential for resolving the conflicts. - This thesis intends to make an analysis of alienation in Winesburg, Ohio mainly from the point of view of such existentialists as Jean-Paul Sartre, Erich Fromm, and Melvin Seeman. Sartre highlights the function of consciousness in man’s alienation. According to Sartre, man suffers from anguish because he is conscious of his suffering. He also points out that man is afraid of facing the Other, In face of the Other, man may feel himself an alien and cannot find the sense of belonging and security. Sartre also points out that man alienates himself through bad faith. He has to adopt wrong values he disapproves of, which leads to his alienation. Sartre’s views on alienation are applied in this thesis to illustrate the causes of alienation in Winesburg, Ohio.– Erich Fromm stresses the importance of the individual’s lack of sense of community and his conformity to social mores in causing his alienation. He argues that man needs a sense of belonging, for he aspires to be accepted and needed by others. To seek this sense of belonging, man has to betray himself and conform to social norms. And this conformity eventually leads to man’s alienation. He clearly states that one’s behavior is conditioned by forces that are beyond an individual’s control. The subsequent feeling of incompetence and powerlessness results in man’s alienation. He also points out that man’s repression of their natural desires and lack of inhibition of desires lead to the destruction of the self.– Melvin Seeman, based on the insights of Marx and Emile Durkheim, constructs what is often considered a model of alienation, which consists of five aspects: powerlessness, meaninglessness, normlessness, social isolation and self-estrangement. All these five aspects are embodied in Winesburg, Ohio. His views are also adopted in the analysis of the alienated townsmen in Winesburg, Ohio. - The thesis combines an analysis of existentialist alienation with Anderson’s own understanding of the factors contributing to the alienation of the townspeople. Industrialization and Puritanism which give rise to the alienation of the townspeople will be analyzed at length. Materialism propels the townsmen to seek material success, which causes people’s mutual indifference. The loss of love is the leading factor resulting in their alienation. Industrialism makes the townsmen feel insignificant and incompetent. The negation of their own worth and the sense of powerlessness result in their alienation. Affected by the multiple values in the new era, the townsmen begin to doubt their previous faith. Their wavering faith and confusion in face of >the Other< are also the main factors leading to their alienation. Their inarticulateness and cowardice in sharing their own ideas curb their mutual understanding. Man’s powerlessness to balance their natural desires with their beliefs is another factor resulting in their alienation. Their failure to find the meaning of life and their sense of loss in the new era also contributes to their alienation. [Author’s translation]

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Author:Yingjun Zhang
Document Type:Dissertations
Year of first Publication:2013
Release Date:2016/09/29
Format:no download and copy possible
Writings about Erich Fromm (Secondary Literature):Dissertations / Dissertationen
Erich Fromm's Library and Erich Fromm Archive:Dissertations / Dissertationen
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