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The Analysis of Portnoy’s Rebellion in Portnoy’s Complanit

Author WangJing
Tutor WangXinChun
School Northeast Forestry University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Philip Roth Portnoy’s Complaint Portnoy Rebellion
CLC I712.074
Type Master's thesis
Year 2012
Downloads 28
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Philip Roth, who is considered to be one of America’s best living authors, grew up in a middle---class family in Newark, New Jersey.Roth went on to study in Bucknell University, getting an English degree. He then continued his graduate studies at the University of Chicago, where he received an M.A. in English literature and worked briefly as an instructor in the university’s writing program. His first book, Goodbye, Columbus won the National Book Award in1960, after that he published two novels, However, it was not until Roth published his third novel, Portnoy’s Complaint, in1969that he enjoyed great commercial and critical success.Portnoy’s Complaint made its author Philip Roth into a major celebrity, leading a storm of controversy in American literary field. Because of its explicit and candid treatment of sexuality, including detailed depictions of masturbation, also with the negative portrait of Jewish figures, Roth suffered severe attack from the Jewish community. Researches on this work are numerous at home and abroad, but most of them are based on the new perspective of gender. This thesis analyzes the protagonist’s ambivalence and rebellion in Portnoy’s Complaint applying Freud’s theory of psychology, and reveals Roth’s critical consciousness to his native stubborn national tradition and moral precepts. The aim of the thesis is to point out the protagonist’s dilemma under the stress of the American culture and the Jewish tradition, which leads to his final tragedy.The whole thesis includes six parts:the first chapter is an introduction to the writer and the novel and to the theory of Freud’s Personality Theory, which will be applied in the analysis. It also includes a literature review of the relevant studies of the novel. Chapter Two is mainly about the Freud’s Personality Theory. Chapter Three of the thesis is devoted to the analysis of the protagonist’s rebellion, which includes the rebellion to his family, to his tradition and to his moral ethic. Chapter Four discusses the reasons for Portnoy’s rebellion, which includes individual reasons, family reasons and social reasons. Chapter Five comes to a conclusion of the analysis of Portnoy’s Complaint, which also shows the inspiration to the modern society.

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