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Right of subversion and contains: "new historicism" cat's cradle

Author LiJing
Tutor XuWenPei
School Heilongjiang University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Cat’s Cradle New Historicism power subversion containment
CLC I712.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
Downloads 174
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As a major voice in postmodern American literature, Kurt Vonnegut has written atotal of fourteen novels, as well as a large number of short stories, essays and dramathrough his literary career of almost half a century. However, his works have failed tocapture as much attention and concern as Thomas Pynchon from literary critics at homeand abroad. And the study of his fourth novel Cat’s Cradle is just of a small percentageamong the existing researches of all his works. Though the rich themes of Cat’s Cradlehave caught the eyes of an increasing number of critics, the relationship of these themeshas not been probed into. In view of this, this thesis makes an attempt at this byemploying the three key terms and their connotations of New Historicism, i.e. power,subversion, and containment, to supply a new perspective in understanding this novel.The thesis consists of three main parts: the Introduction, the Main Body and theConclusion. The Introduction is a brief account of Vonnegut’s life experiences and hisfourteen novels, followed by a survey of the past researches of Cat’s Cradle. The MainBody is made up of four chapters. Chapter One is concerned with the gist of NewHistoricism: the chief theories and the three key terms. In Chapters Two and Three, therich themes of Cat’s Cradle and the innate connection are analyzed based on theembodiment of power and subversion in the development of the plot. Vonnegut’s visionof male and female social status, technological development, power politics and thenature of religion is disclosed with these two coordinate chapters. Chapter Fourexpounds the limitation of Vonnegut’s views and his works that accounts for theseemingly absurd plot arrangements and reasonable inspiration in founding a newreligion in Cat’s Cradle, owing to the enlightenment of containment. The concludingpart is to restate the themes and their connection of Cat’s Cradle and make anassessment of Vonnegut and his works.

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