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An Analysis of Wolf Hall from the Perspective of New Historicism

Author SuiYanYing
Tutor FanLiJuan
School Harbin Normal University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Hilary Mantel Wolf Hall New Historicism historicity of texts the textuality of history
CLC I561.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2013
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In2009, a female British writer named Hilary Mantel won the Booker Prize by herhistorical novel Wolf Hall after defeating several great opponents. Wolf Hall portrays thefamous history of the Tudors ruled by King Henry VIII. Hilary Mental ditches thestereotypes of Cromwell, reshapes a fresh image: deliberation, delicacy, self-education,starting from nothing, true to life. So in some degrees, Wolf Hall is a long historicalnovel underlying New Historicism. According to New Historicism, which wasinaugurated by Stephen Greenblatt in the early1980s, the paper attempts to analyze thenovel by using the connotation of New Historicism. In New Historicism, the terms of“the historicity of texts” and “the textuality of history” emphasize the bilateralrelationship between the history and the text. In addition, connotations of subversionand containment are also attributing to analyze the text from the perspective of NewHistoricism.This paper is divided into six chapters. The introduction mainly includes a briefintroduction to Hilary Mantel, her Wolf Hall, and feasibility and innovation of research.Hilary Mantel is a British novelist, short story writer and critic. Hilary Mantel is one ofour most important living writers. She is the author of twelve previous novels. Wolf Hall,which won the2009Man Booker Prize, also won the National Book Critics CircleAward. Bring Up the Bodies won the2012Man Booker Prize. Wolf Hall takes Britishhistory as the subject, reproduces the passion of the history of the Tudor Monarchy andKing Henry Ⅷ’love affairs in650pages. It is "a magical Tudor Monarchy novel" Thebook is divided into six parts and composed of some seemingly insignificant events, butits connotation is extremely rich.The second part introduces the theory of New Historicism, including the rising ofNew Historicism, the main connotations of new historicism. New Historicism becomesan important literary criticism in the beginning of1980s. Stephen Greenblatt, LouisAdrian Montrose is its representatives. To some extent, New Historicism originatesfrom New Critics and Old Historicism, but it still has a great difference with each ofthem in many aspects. This paper mainly uses historicity of texts and the textuality of history, function of subversion an function of containment to analyze the text.The third part studies the novel using “historicity of texts”. The historicity of textsmeans the production of texts will be affected by the history background. This paperanalyzes the historicity from two aspects: the reshaping Tudors Dynasty and thehistorical background. The reshaping Tudors Dynasty contains the era with dark andlight mixed and the complex court struggle. The historical background contains thecoming religious reform and Henry VIII’s divorce court.The fourth part analyzes the novel by “the textuality of history”. The textuality ofhistory means the authors make up the stories according to their own needs; thehistorical events or facts are not objective. This paper studies the textuality from threeaspects. Subversion means the authors subvert the literal images and history eventswhile containment means putting the subversion in a controllable scope. This paperanalyzes these two concepts from three aspects: the subversion of Thomas Cromwell’simage; the subversion of Catherine of Aragon’s image; simultaneous function ofsubversion and containment.There is no doubt that Wolf hall is an “outstanding incredibly” historical novel, is amiracle of the British literary business. At the same time, it also sets the new standard ofhistorical novel writing. This novel shows not only the Tudor Monarchy, but also thecomplex appearance of life. It is worth savoring. The conclusion makes a conclusionthat history and text affect each other, and that subversion and containment exist foreverat the same time.To conclude, this paper makes an effort to analyze Wolf Hall from the perspectiveof the theory of New Historicism. The aim is to emphasize the bilateral relationshipbetween history and this novel, and the negotiation between Hilary Mantel and thesocial ideology. It is hoped that this paper can make readers obtain broader and morecomprehensive of the author Hilary Mantel, her masterpiece, and her literal creation. Ofcourse, this paper exists a lot of shortness that needs much deeper understanding fromother academics. Meanwhile, the more authority research on the novel is yet to be madein the future.

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