荆棘鸟 论文
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英美文学课程论文

论文题目:浅析《荆棘鸟》中梅吉的性格

姓 名: 李 倩 文

学 号: 1103090109

班 级: 英 语 1101

完成日期: 2014 年 06 月 06日

An Analysis of Maggie’s Character in The Thorn Birds

Abstract

Colleen McCullough is a versatile contemporary Australian woman writer. Her famous family saga “The Thorn Birds” caused tremendous sensation after publication in 1977. The novel follows the personal and emotional experience of the three generations of the Celeries, vividly depicts a beautiful and sentimental love story between Maggie, the female character and Ralph, a Cardinal afterwards. Not only does the novel have a rich content but also the complex plots have an important artistic effect on shaping the characters in the novel. Among all the roles, Maggie is the most successful one who is full of passion and courage. This article analyzes the character of Maggie from three aspects: the first one is the faith of the two main characters; the second one is the exterior and internal reasons for the shaping of her character; the last one is her influence on her children. The analysis aims at showing the eternal charm of the image, Maggie.

Key Words: Maggie’s Character, Exterior Reason, Interior reason, Faith, The Influence on Her Children

浅析《荆棘鸟》中梅吉的性格

摘 要

考琳·麦卡洛是当代澳大利亚一位多才多艺的女作家。她著名的家世小说《荆棘鸟》在1977年问世后,引起了极大的轰动。该书通过描写克利里一家三代在澳大利亚的人生经历和情感历程,生动地刻画了女主人公梅吉与后来成为了红衣主教的拉夫尔之间缠绵悱恻的爱情故事。小说不仅有丰富的生活内容,而且具有复杂的故事情节,为刻画人物性格起了重要的艺术作用。在作品塑造的众多特色鲜明的人物中,最成功的莫过于对女主人公梅吉这一集热情、勇敢于一体的核心人物的塑造。本文拟从三个方面对梅吉的性格特征进行分析。一是文中两大主人公的信仰;二就是梅吉性格形成的外部原因和内部原因;三是梅吉性格对孩子的影响,从而展现这一形象所赋予作品的永恒的魅力。

关键词:梅吉的性格 外因 内因 信仰 对孩子的影响

Contents

1. Introduction . ........................................................................................................ 1

1.1 Colleen McCullough ..................................................................................... 1

1.2 The Thorn Bird .............................................................................................. 1

2. Main characters and their faith ........................................................................... 2

2.1 Maggie’s faith . ............................................................................................... 2

2.2 Ralph s faith . .................................................................................................. 2

3. Reasons for the Shaping of Maggie’s Character . ................................................ 3

3.1 The Exterior Reason ...................................................................................... 3

3.2 The Interior Reason ....................................................................................... 4

4. Maggie’s Influence on Her Children................................................................... 5

4.1 Maggie’s Daughter — Justine ....................................................................... 5

4. 2 Maggie’s Son — Dane ................................................................................. 6

5. Conclusion .......................................................................................................... 7

References ………………………………………………………………………... 8

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An Analysis of Maggie’s Character in The Thorn Birds

1. Introduction

1.1 Colleen McCullough

Colleen McCullough, an Australian female writer, who was born in Wellington, New South Wales, Australia on June 1, 1937, and she was chiefly brought up in Sydney. McCullough is a prolific writer. In 1972 she wrote Tim, her first try at producing a novel for publication. This book sold very respectably. Then she began her second book The Thorn Birds in 1975. This book eventually sold more than ten million copies. In the following years, she wrote many more novels, which are not mentioned here one by one. Col leen McCullough’s novel The Thorn Birds has been hailed as a success of world film and literature and has been the best seller for years. Often, The Thorn Birds is compared to another historical romance novel of epic proportions, Gone with the wind . It is frequently called the Australian “Gone with the Wind ”. The Thorn Birds has been translated into multiple languages and is still in print with a steady speed all over the world. And it is one of the Australian novels that the Chinese readers know best.

1.2 The Thorn Bird

The Thorn Birds tells us a story started from 1915 and lasted more than half a century. The story happens in New Zealand with the whole family’s struggle to survive on the farm. The main clue of the novel is the beautiful and sentimental love story between Maggie, a farmer’s daughter, and Ralph, the bishop of Catholicism, describing the personal and emotional experience of the three generations of the Celeries. Colleen McCullough managed to show us the truth that it’s necessary to pay an inconceivable cost for the magnificent things and true love. Without any doubt, in the story, the most conspicuous thorn bird is Maggie, while her sharpest and longest spine is Ralph. However mournful and difficult the experience is, she never abandons her faith — being faithful to love and making her love significant. She is definitely aware that she has chosen a

2 tortuous road, but she is willing to dedicate all her efforts to searching for her thorn tree — Ralph, and having her belief and love glittering. Maggie is strong, brave, pure and noble to her faith, in that she enriches love with unlimited color and vividness. She is a perfect woman. Although Maggie devotes her life to love, what she gained is just a tragedy.

2. Main characters and their faith

2.1 Maggie’s faith

In this book, women do not want to submit themselves to men’s authority and old customs. As the thorn birds, their faith is love; as the thorn birds which sing just once in their life, these women love only once in their life. They will not like to change their faith and they appeal to men for understanding and valuing their love. No matter how difficult and painful the experiences will be, they do not care at all. They also believe that the real happiness comes after the extremely suffering experiences. They have the same faith, and love occupies their dream for all their life, but they treat their faith with different attitudes and pursue their love with different behaviors. Maggie does not ruin her faithful lover that she cannot get as Mary does; she does not just keep waiting for her hopeless lover as her mother Fiona does; she is not too timid to accept her lover as her daughter Justine is. Maggie pursues her faith indefatigably and sublimates her love to the utmost. Her happiness is based on her anguish. The more sorrowful she is, the happier she will feel. Actually, Maggie’s pursuit of love is the strongest, and her voice is the most moving and tragic.

2.2 Ralph s faith

Ralph has barded and subtle mind, outstanding political consciousness and remarkable diplomatic talent. He is brought up from his cradle to be a priest, and he is filled with God. He is sure that no earthly things come between him and his state of mind—not love of a woman, or love of money. Between God and Maggie, he chooses the former; between authority and love, he chooses the former. Though he still loves Maggie so much, he chooses to forsake her, selling her for thirteen million pieces of silver. But the pain of love does not fade, it seems to grow worse,

3 which makes him unable to be fully pious to God. When he hears that Maggie has married Luke, he is upset, spitting mad. He decides to go to Matlock Island to see her.

There he becomes to realize that he is a man, can never be God, and he is made for Maggie. When Maggie has his son—Dane, she does not tell him the truth. He considers that she gives birth to a great son for Luke, which makes him so envious. As Dane is determined to be a priest, Maggie has to send him to Ralph. In the letter, she says to Ralph, “„I charge you with his well-being, his happiness. What I stole, I give back. It is demanded of me.‟” but he still doesn’t know Dane is his son until Dane’s accidental death, which wears him down thoroughly. Maggie is the mirror in which he is forced to view his mortality, but he never pays attention to it until he dies. Only in death will he find the peace he cannot find here in this life. He hurts Maggie profoundly and loses his excellent son. He loves Maggie deeply, but he can’t treat love as his faith as Maggie does. He cares God more. So he creates an extreme tragedy for Maggie and himself.

3. Reasons for the Shaping of Maggie’s Character

Maggie’s character is not relying on the natural and social environment as well as the personal experience, both for the exterior reason and the interior reason.

3.1 The Exterior Reason

It is easy to see that the female images in The Thorn Birds mostly had deviated from the traditional moral standards and customs. Especially, Maggie not only resisted the position stipulated to the traditional women in spirit, and her bravery and pursuit to love also exceeded the individuality suppressed by the destiny.

Maggie is Cleary, attractive and pretty, she is the only girl of the Celeries. She is the main protagonist of the story. The story starts with Maggie and finishes with Maggie too. The transition of the living environment, the family condition and construction and the social background are the exterior reasons in the shaping of Maggie’s character, which causes Maggie’s distinctive character.

4 Maggie’s character is forged from her early year’s experiences. She was born in the poor, obscure and complex Celeries family, which started their journey from their unpretentious roots in New Zealand where they worked as sheep shearers, to the huge Australian sheep farm Drogheda, owned by Paddy Cleary’s autocratic sister. During the journey, the little girl Maggie witnessed the change of their living environment. The broad and natural prairie made Maggie not being influenced by the uproar and secular environment.

Maggie, as the only daughter in the Celeries family, should have deserved the care and love from other family members. But she is ignored by her parents, partly because they are busy, partly because she is a girl. Although Maggie was born in a poor family, she is a cute and attractive girl with vivid hair, but she also has a high self-esteem. Maggie has the astonishing willpower to endure the hardship in her life. Under the influence of the men in her family, she developed a strong and brave personality. Her pride is awesome and her self-control phenomenal. Besides, she is a quaint mixture of morality, virtue and ignorance. Although she is not born to be more, she is worth more. Nobody knows what will occur to her, what kind of life she will embrace, and what sort of fate she will be confronted with.

Besides the influence from family, Maggie has also been influenced by the prevalent feminism, which developed vigorously in the middle of the 19th century. Maggie is brave enough to seek her own love and happiness. In her lifelong struggle, she shows her independence and perseverance and never yields to her doomed fate. In her life, she struggles, fails, succeeds, and endures. Although her love story ends up as a tragedy, she never regrets. The reason for that is that she has experienced and pursued true love. All that shows Maggie has been deeply influenced by the 19th century feminism.

3.2 The Interior Reason

Maggie, is attracted by the emotional illusion, she made hard efforts to gain her lover’s adoration and then was abandoned mercilessly. When she is nine-year old, Maggie moves to Australian with her family, which really changes her fate and brings her a new life. In Drogheda, she met Ralph de Bricassart, a young and handsome priest, who was fond of her and took good care of her. As Maggie grows up, her love and respect of Father Ralph has also turned into a

5 girlish crush. But she knows it is prohibited to have a clergy as lover or husband, and Ralph, as a clergy, can’t love her as a husband and will never give up his job. Maggie’s forbidden love for Ralph is romantic, but it is also the most tragic part of all. Maggie is too obsessive to get over Ralph and move on with her life. She is forced by herself and her fate to spend actually her whole life pining away for Ralph, whom she knows clearly she can never have as her husband. This is a real tragedy, as her whole life is ruined because of her obsession.

Besides love, Maggie thinks that she also needs her own life — a husband and children, but she cannot get these from Ralph. Therefore, she gets married with Luke, but Maggie does not like Luke at all, and she is not able to fall in love with him. During the process of Maggie’s growth, she experiences the torment of forbidden love and unhappy marriage. Her personality and character became mature along with these experiences. Maggie’s own life and love experience nurtured her to be strong-minded, brave, independent and positive. She has the gift of acceptance. No matter what has gone or what might come, she confronts it and accepts it. For her whole life, she suffers from one misfortune after another. She accepts all that have happened to her and goes straight bravely. She takes a positive attitude in pursuing her ideal, love and happiness. She is like a thorn bird, singing and flying to impale herself until the end of her life.

4. Maggie’s Influence on Her Children

4.1 Maggie’s Daughter — Justine

As Maggie’s daughter, Justine has a quite different personality from her mother. Justine’s character, to some extent, results from the lack of attention from others, especially from Maggie. It’s difficult for her to accept her mother’s philosophy. No one can call her a pretty child but no one will forget her, not merely, on account of her strangely pale eyes but also because she has remarkable strength of character. Justine does not seem to need a mother, since she is convinced that she is right about everything. Nor is she the sort of little girl who requires a confident, or warm approval. She is capricious and does not want to be hugged, kissed or made to laugh, when she is a little girl. Not that she is either noisy or defiant; simply that she is made of very metal indeed. She refuses to smile or laugh doggedly. Her strength, her integrity, and her self-reliance

6 deserve love, but she refuses it.

Justine refuses marriage. She scorns those housewives who take their children and husbands as their career. With no interest in being a wife, Justine regards marriage as the curb of women’s freedom. Eventually, she becomes a rich and famous actress in London. Her vocation choice as an actress fits her perfectly.

Justine and Dane grow up together, so they have deeply emotional attachment to each other. After Dane is drowned, Justine is almost crushed down by sorrow. It is Maggie that speaks out the importance of enjoying life to Justine; otherwise, Justine would sacrifice her happiness and career to compensate her love to the gone Dane. With the help of her mother, Maggie, she can cheer up again to take a positive attitude to life. A new Justine full of energy, enthusiasm and affection gives birth. Finally, Justine overcomes fear of marriage, realizes her true love, accepts the beloved Rainer and finds her real happiness.

Generally speaking, Justine is active to master her own fate and deserves what she gets at last; she succeeds in pursuing her love. So as an independent woman in economy and personality, Justine can get happiness. Justine is full of self-confidence, and tries to be active and brave in life, then she can be able to benefit from life in the end; enjoy life, and then life will reward her.

4. 2 Maggie’s Son — Dane

Dane is a son and love fruit of Maggie and Ralph. When Maggie spends her vacation on Matlock Island, Ralph comes to find her, which ignites her hope again, and makes her decision to challenge God for her faith. She can never have Ralph, but there she does get the part of Ralph the Church can never have — she has Ralph’s son Dane, who is as perfect as Ralph. Dane gains the favor of all the people in Drogheda.

Dane is adorable. His gay and even-tempered nature gives love as naturally as breathing. He is much more loved by all the people than Justine. During his growth, Maggie regards him as her possession, puts all her love to him and wants to harness him to Drogheda and make him a stockman. However, maybe because of genetic reason, Dane shows great reverence and love for God and Priest. This is a fatal satire to Maggie. She stole Dane from God, but Dane eventually

7 belongs to God. She has to admit that there is never a woman born who can beat God. Dane is the real home of Maggie’s soul, she gives all her tender , love and care to Dane. However, a sweet dream is short-lived. God summons back what Maggie has stolen from Him and takes away all the hopes of Maggie, leaving her in the world alone to bear the pains.

Dane is a child who is stolen from Father Ralph. Dane is a martyr with heavy guilty conscience. He inherits strong character from his mother Maggie and endless love for God from his father Ralph. He loves God more than anyone else and can’t give his love to any woman. And Dane loves the Church. At the age of eighteen years old, he has made up his mind that he wants to be a priest. He realizes the crime of modern society and weakness of human beings, and feels guilty for human’s attribution.. Dane’s tragedy lies in not only his ancestor and parents, but also his own consciousness of tough self-sacrifice.

5. Conclusion

The three parts analyzed above shows the reasons and features of Maggie’s vivid character. She was not only the kind of person who enjoyed herself but also the type who revitalize others’ affection for life. Maggie cherished her life as well as that of people about her. She was full of femininity. Through her life, she searches for her home of soul 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, the figure of Maggie is real and charming and the image of Maggie portrayed by the author shows a wonderful descriptive style of writing, which is real and full of appeal, and that is enough to prove that The Thorn Birds is a masterpiece, charming and valuable.

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References

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