Dissertation > Language, writing > FOREIGN > English > Writing,rhetoric

A Functional Stylistic Analysis of the Bluest Eye

Author ZhangDeFang
Tutor ZhangDeLu
School Ocean University of China
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords functional stylistics Metafunctions thematic meaning
CLC I712
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Many critics attempted to interpret The Bluest Eye from different aspects, and had got noticeable achievements on the thematic meaning. As it should be, White culture domination and racial discrimination are a remarkable theme of the novel, for it explains why the tragedy happens. However, a close examination based on the functional stylistic study will demonstrate more about the thematic significance, which is how to avoid the same tragedy happening again. Through functional stylistic analysis of selected passages, this thesis offers new interpretations of the novel’s thematic meaning with linguistic evidence, thus summarizing Morrison’s stylistic features.The thesis is based on functional stylistics, which is derived from Systemic Functional Linguistics initiated by Halliday, aiming to explore how the thematic significance is represented through linguistic features and acquire fresh understanding and interpretations of the novel. According to him, language has three intrinsic functions termed as Metafunctions, including ideational function, interpersonal function and textual function which are realized by transitivity system, mood system and thematic system respectively. Metafunctions are closely related with the context of culture and context of situation. In this thesis, the author tries to make a detailed analysis from the angle of three functions. There are two methods mainly adapted, qualitative and quantitative. The author chooses the preface, several passages from the chapter of Winter and Summer as the data to be analyzed from the point of transitivity, modality and thematic structure. Besides, statistics method is used to make a comparative study.In this thesis, some new findings are produced. Firstly, the theme of The Bluest Eye is deepened. Morrison not only exposes the female subjectivity in the White-dominated society, but points out the way to change the predicament. Secondly, Morrison’s style can be identified. She is good at portraying the most violent hurt with the most elegant language with the help of her technical manipulation of language. Lastly, functional stylistics proves to be an effective and scientific method to analyze literature works. It can help provide new interpretations.The present thesis falls into five chapters. The first chapter is the introduction to the significance and organization of thesis. Chapter Two reviews the theory of Stylistics, Systemic Functional Grammar and the current research situation in this field. Chapter Three introduces the theoretical framework of functional stylistics as well as the methodology adopted in this thesis. Chapter Four is the main part, which includes the detailed analysis of the data from the perspective of the three Metafunctions, ideational, interpersonal and textual. The analysis focuses on three aspects: transitivity patterns, mood system and thematic system and cohesion. Through the analysis, a conclusion can be educed that Claudia is a black girl who sticks to native Black culture and resists to White culture, and thinks highly of her own tradition and brings hope to the reconstruction of Black culture. Further more, it represents the theme that only by self-esteem, self-help and self-love can Blacks relieve the damage of internalized racism and capture the sense of worth and self-identity. Chapter Five is the interpretation of the analysis in the light of context of culture, which explains the different personalities of characters and the tragic situations of the African-Americans. Chapter Six is the conclusion, which points out the new findings and limitations of the thesis and makes some suggestions for the future study.This thesis shows that functional stylistics is not only operative in discourse analysis, for it offers further interpretations of the thematic meaning, but also provides objective measures for the readers to appreciate literary works.

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