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An ecocritical study of identity in the mirror of nature in selected works by Joseph Conrad


Nesami, Morteza Habibi (2012) An ecocritical study of identity in the mirror of nature in selected works by Joseph Conrad. PhD thesis, Universiti Putra Malaysia.


Uncertainty about identity is prevalent in modern literature. Self and identity in Joseph Conrad has been mostly researched into the search for self and identity in social context and through confrontation of 'self‘ with 'the other'. Humans‘ self knowledge is mostly derived from the information gathered in social environments. However, experiencing natural environment especially the dark side of nature can be another contributing factor. Under the light of criticism this study unmasks how wilderness 'provokes‘ the Conradian heroes to arrive at the state of self-awareness as one part of self forms through direct confrontation with non-human natural environment – when 'self' is placed against 'nonself', apart from the socio-cultural factors such as race, gender, class and nationality that form identity. Owing to being defeated in their quest in the wilderness whether marine or terrestrial such as jungles and islands, Conrad‘s adventurous characters come to the new perception of their 'self‘. By giving them enough time and space, nature provides them with an opportunity for self-awareness. It serves as a mirror to show them who they really are and how powerful nature might be in the battle between human and nature. Their ultimate awareness is that defeating nature is nothing but the vanity of human wishes. As interdisciplinary nature of ecocriticism calls, the research relies partly on scientific researches focusing on the prominent role of natural environment in redefining identity in human being – how human judges himself in terms of autonomy and competence in nature. Among different types of environment, wilderness as the main subset of nature would be highlighted. Different aspects of wilderness including weather, sublime, inversion, indifference and uncontrollability make way to see how nature is presented in the works and how the characters may define themselves to themselves. The dark side of nature as a recurring element of Joseph Conrad‘s works would be traced referring to Edmund Burke‘s idea of sublime to help make the study more comprehensive. What adds strength in this study is the limited number of researches scrutinizing Joseph Conrad‘s novels from ecocritical perspective in terms of identity formation and self-awareness. Finally, this study intends to show redefinition of identity that Conrad‘s major characters experienced in an authentic way based on what he experienced through the mirror of nature in his twenty-year seafaring life.

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Additional Metadata

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subject: Ecocriticism in literature
Subject: Identity (Philosophical concept) in literature
Call Number: FBMK 2012 20
Chairman Supervisor: Arbaayah Ali Termizi, Ph.D
Divisions: Faculty of Modern Language and Communication
Depositing User: Haridan Mohd Jais
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2015 01:14
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2015 01:14
URI: http://psasir.upm.edu.my/id/eprint/31395
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