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Finding a Way Out in the Absurd World

Author FangZuo
Tutor YuanXueSheng
School Nanchang University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Philip Roth Everyman postmodernist context living dilemma
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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Philip Roth is considered to be one of the most prolific cotemporary American Jewish writers, whose works always make people think deeply. The subjects of his novels are often about sex, belief crisis, irrationalism and skepticism, showing strong post-modernism color. In 2006, Roth brought up a novel Everyman of the same name with a medieval morality play. Although it seems that there are lots of similarities on plot in the two works, the novel mainly focuses on the protagonist’s life experience. In Everyman it dominates in a flashback of an old man’s whole life. In the postmodern society, the protagonist disregards family and marriage ethic and abandons the tradition culture and religion to follow his physical instinct-driven. The postmodern consciousness and ways of life is too short to death, also it cannot support a complete spiritual world which brings people more loneliness, anxiety, emptiness and malaise.With its postmodernist structure, this novel has drawn wide international critical attention since it has been published. Philip Roth’s works always make reader ponder them over and he often plays the story among his social context. Foreign critics. William Dereswicz and John Garvey, have discussed the novel from two different angles, religious and humanity perspective. The researches at home are embodied in several journal articles. Most of them center on the theme of death in this novel.Based on the research situation at abroad and home, this thesis will make a comprehensive analysis on Everyman, and mainly through analyzing the living dilemma of the protagonist in Everyman, it considers that the physical hardship and spiritual emptiness the protagonist faces generally exist in normal lives of modern people. Through the experience of the protagonist, Roth reveals modern people’s living dilemma and a variety of threats, expressing his greatest ultimate concern of human.This thesis is composed of five chapters.Chapter one firstly makes a brief introduction about Philip Roth and his major works. Then it introduces the research condition of Philip Roth and his Everyman at home and abroad. Finally, it focuses on the introduction of the novel Everyman and states the research method and perspective.Chapter two focuses on the living dilemma from the failure of body function and the fear of death. Firstly, it talks briefly about the postmodernism and its main characteristics. And then it analyzes the protagonist’s loneliness and fear of death and diseases.Chapter three is mainly talking about the emptiness and lost in spiritual world in two aspects that one is the religious belief crisis, and the other is the deviation of values.Chapter four mainly analyzes the protagonist’s principles of ethics and morals including his chaotic life of sexual love and his betrayal to family.Chapter five serves as the conclusion of this thesis. The conclusion summarizes the analysis of this novel. By analyzing the Protagonist’s life experience, Roth has expressed his worry and concern on modern people’s living dilemma and a variety of threats.

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