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“Paul’s Case” Critical Approaches
New Critical: word choice, motifs, symbols • Queer theory: • gender non-conformity and possible homosexuality indicated by Cather’s choice of words to describe Paul, his actions, etc. The CODED text! • Frustrated Romanticism: • also indicated by motifs and word choice (also see Social Critique)
Psychological • Story originally subtitled “A Study in Temperament”; what is Paul a “case” study of? • Delusions of grandeur • Learning Disabilities • Other mental/emotional illnesses • Child abuse? see also: Queer theory
Social Critique • unfettered capitalism (c.f. Maggie): haves and have-nots (“Marxists critique”) • society’s rejection of non-conformists; mechanized modern world esp. brutal • the impracticality (even danger) of Romantic ideals in the Modern world • also see queer theory (homophobia/heterosexism)
Feminist Theory • Rejection of the “feminine” • (Tom Boy vs. “Jane Girl”) • Triviality of the female’s role in society
Overview of Realism/Naturalism the Gilded Age • What has the American Dream metamorphosed into? • What has happened to the concept of democracy vis-à-vis capitalism by the late 1800s?
Realism vs Naturalism • Maggie = Naturalism. Not just a “slice of life” but reality manipulated to show how human lives are at the mercy of environment and social circumstances. Details of life often grotesque, exaggerated. • “Paul’s Case” = Realism. Paul can be seen as having some options, making some bad choices. Details of life are realistic, not grotesque.