Throughout our lives we move from one story to the next.

Whether we are listeners, readers or writers “we live our lives immersed in stories.’ From the many stories we encounter, both fiction and non-fiction, the orphan figure stands out as one of the most prominent figures in literature. Orphan figures have prevailed in the literary arena for centuries, from ancient poetry, folktales, and myths to modern day novels.

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This constant reoccurrence of the orphan figure in literature emphasizes the need to understand the significance attached to it. However, according to the editors of Bastardy and its Comparative History literatures great interest on the orphan figure is poorly reflected in literary criticism. It is further stated that if at all criticism on the orphan is dealt only as an element in the commentaries on the literary works in which they appear.

Thus far the orphan has failed to seek out a treatment of its own in most literary criticisms. Since the extent of literary criticism dedicated to the orphan is diminutive, this thesis undertakes the task of filling this critical gap by examining the thematic and formal importance of the orphan hero in the works of three major eighteenth century British novels. Although the orphan has existed in the literary arena for centuries, the representation and attitude towards the literary orphan figure has transformed over time. Alison Findley’s research on the portrayal of the orphan figure in English renaissance drama assert that fifteenth and sixteenth century literature positions the orphan along with the thief, the beggar and the prostitute that symbolized the malfunctioning social institutions. Her research further states that the orphan figure is an embodiment of the illicit relationships and degenerating moral values of society. Unfortunately, it was the child who was born fatherless or abandoned by the parents that was deemed responsible and punished by the social institutions for threatening the existing social order, the patriarchy, the traditional family structure as well as undermining religious and moral values. Social institutions denied the orphan the right to inherit, the right to own property.

Furthermore, until law reformation in 198- a child that was born out of wedlock was declared illegitimate in the eyes of the law and of the church? Even if the parents got married after the birth. Society marginalized the child that resulted from extramarital affairs rather than the adults who theoretically should bare all responsibility for this alleged moral depletion of society, and the destruction of the order of nature. ——- notes that the orphan figure shed its untamed and negative representation of the past and entered the developing novel as a heroic figure in eighteenth century English novel.

(ck article). The establishment of orphan as heroic figure in eighteenth century literature is commonly associated with the dawn of the enlightenment and romanticism in the eighteenth century. Furthermore, the socio-historic explanation correlates the increasing philanthropic gestures for example the establishing of foundling hospitals and the increased attention on the child with the rise in positive orphan figures in literature. This literary revolution was perceived as a reflection of the rise in the care and protection of orphaned and abandoned children, in other words an expression of social concern.

This study is committed to the eighteenth century English novel because this was when the literary orphan came to be celebrated as a heroic figure in English literature, thus marking a notable departure from earlier representations of the orphan. This socio-historical commentary is valid however; it disregards the fact that the novels are not accurate portrayals of society. Important facts: first the philanthropic attitude in the novels is simply not a reflection of the literal changes in society, the novels cannot be classified an expression of social concern or as a medium through which to educate the reader.

Primarily because fictional stories distort the position of the real orphan in society by depicting orphans as heroic character in literature. With the exclusion of infant adoptions, the orphaning experience is usually much more violent, and much less rewarding, than depicted in literature. Even if actual orphaning experiences have not been seen as a valuable source for either fiction or social science in the past, they remain a rich subject area to be explored in both the present and future. Furthermore while traditional fictional literature tends to downplay the experience of orphaning, using it as a means to open a story or manage a plot, orphans replay the orphaning circumstances over and over again in their imaginations.

For popular authors, the orphan is a blank canvas with no conflicting background to interfere with their creative directions. Yet the same orphaning which allows fictional writers freedom of expression generates a never ending nightmare of unanswered questions for the orphans themselves. Blank canvases provide few answers to life’s many complex questions.

From the time of orphaning and continuing throughout adulthood, the absence of parental sources of information creates a multitude of dilemmas for orphans. Fictional orphan stories are inaccurate and incomplete depictions of the literal orphans. Furthermore, fictional orphan literature gives readers an impression of commonality among orphans.

This impression is rooted in the orphan’s solitude and loneliness. Through the successful exploits of fictional orphans there is a sense of sameness among these characters. There are five underlying characteristics of orphan related fiction that form an explanation for this sense of sameness.

First, orphaned characters in fiction are extremely successful. Second, many fictional orphans have dual personas, allowing them to fulfil a wide range of roles. Finally, most classical orphan heroes in Western literature are depicted as white, Euro-centric characters.

In contrast, testimonies that arise from orphans’ narratives indicate that daily lives of orphans are far more mundane, are generally less consequential to society; and provide rewards vastly inferior to those afforded their fictional representatives. In order to proceed to address the issue of orphans in literature, the definition for the term orphan has to be established. A look into the epytomology of the term reveals its Greek roots and of its longstanding historical presence. From its birth the term orphan has been associated with children without parents.

Samuel Johnson’s’ dictionary provides an eighteenth century definition of orphan, this dictionary states that an orphan is a child who is bereft of one or both parents. Similarly, the Oxford English Dictionary defines an orphan as a child, both of whose parents are dead,’ and also as a person or thing deprived of protection, advantages, benefits, or happiness previously enjoyed; something which has been abandoned or ignored,’ deprived of protection analogous to that of a parent; solitary, unconnected, unmatched.’ Some other literary terms, fictional and non-fictional, used in analogous to the term orphan are: adopted, abandoned, black market baby, exposed, foundling, foster-child, foundling, illegitimate, indentured, parentless, ward, bastard, guttersnipe, stray, street kid, urchin, waif, whoreson, and so forth. However, a quandary would arise from precisely defining the other terms, and will also misrepresent this study’s target population.

Therefore this will research allow for a more liberal definition of the term, orphan. Succinctly, the child’s experience on the absence of parental protection and guidance will be the subject of this study of course, this is a broad interpretation of the term orphan, but the English language offers no better expressions. Therefore, if inadvertent injustice must be done to an expression for this study, let that term be orphan. With such a broad definition of orphan, the vast and ever growing supply of orphan related fictional stories for analysis is endless.There is a vast collection of English narratives that feature orphan protagonists; therefore all these novels are potential candidates for this research. However, the scope of this research will only permit to accommodate three novels, which are as follows: Daniel Defoe’s Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders (1722), Henry Fielding’s History of Tom Jones (1749) and Tobias Smollett’s The expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1771). The pattern in these stories is reflected in the lives of people who feel from birth as if they are not a part of their family.

Yet precisely because orphans are not allowed into the family circle, they have to develop independence early in life. The absence of family influences, attitudes, and traditions inspires or compels the Orphan Child to construct an inner reality based on personal judgment and experience. Orphans who succeed at finding a path of survival on their own are celebrated in fairy tales and folk stories as having won a battle with a dark force, which symbolically represents the fear of surviving alone in this world. Freed of parents and, thus, of a personal history, the orphan becomes the self-made person. Conversely, the orphan figure in fiction blossomed precisely because of this parentless state. According to Kimball’s research there are common elements in orphan centered stories.

In her research Kimball concludes:It has been said there are no new stories, just retelling of old ones. A comparison of orphan tales from around the world has shown that, while the details of the stories are not the same, there are some common elements that can be extracted…..

These same elements exist in literary tales. (p. 573). This conception of commonality originates in the orphan’s solitude-a loneliness captured time and again by Defoe, Fielding and Smollett. Ex ex ex::: Whether it’s in the orphaning events, the mistreatment of the orphaned protagonists, or the successful exploits of the orphans, there is a sense of similarity among these characters whose stories seldom cross paths.

Linked to the successes of orphans, fantastic happenings tend to extend beyond believability like discovery of parents, of wealth and of their earned merit and ability to rise up the social ladder and become wealthy as well as gaining inheritance rights and property rights that are denied to the literal orphan. Stories of the orphaning experience are fascinating, but what do anecdotal orphan stories offer society? They provide us with a means for critically examining the orphaning experience. Based on modern research and anecdotal reports, it is difficult to draw any conclusive inferences about orphans in general. There is no way to establish, or even estimate the number of orphans in contemporary society or present in eighteenth century England.

Kimball further states that the contrast between orphan stories is so great that it is virtually impossible to claim any sense of consensus. However, a more careful scrutiny of orphan narratives, nonetheless, offers evidence of some recurring responses to orphaning that may hold true for many orphans. The recurring patterns in orphan literature are as follows: characters, mistreatment, quests, and surmounting obstacles, helpers and other characters, obstacles, rewards, and punishment of those who oppose orphans Kimball’s research can be reduced to two general categories.

Firstly Character development, the primary distinction of orphan-heroes is that they are not bound by any particular formula. This category includes five of Kimball’s themes: characters, mistreatment, quests, and surmounting obstacles; (3) Structural elements: Generally speaking, Aristotle (trans. 1895) laid the foundation for literary thought when he argued “…the proper structure of the Plot” is one that is “..

.an imitation of an action that is complete, and whole… A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end” (7:1-3).

The story (especially in contemporary Western literary theory), therefore, is relatively straightforward and linear, adhering to a rubric offered by Gustav Freytag (1863). In Technique of the Drama, the German critic described the typical plot as a pyramidal shape consisting of an introduction or beginning, rising action or complications and developments, climax, falling action or denouement, and catastrophe or closing action. This formula for the structural elements includes Kimball’s four remaining themes: helpers and other characters, obstacles, rewards, and punishment of those who oppose orphans.

At the basic level of plot, the orphan was able to behave with a degree of mischievousness and to pursue a level of adventure denied to children who has parents to honour and obey. More significantly, the successes the orphan achieved is entirely their own thereby owing no debt to family. Mischief, adventure, and success were played out in the realm of an orphan’s world; nevertheless, they clearly stood for adult actions and represented supremely independent virtues: risk-taking, independence, self-reliance. However, the characteristics of orphanhood in English fiction extend beyond these elements of plot to assume symbolic weight.

In the absence of a father and even of any memory of a father, the orphan boy is the self-made person. Fatherless, he is, in fact, self-created. Lacking a family history, he is free of any a priori connections to society.The orphan hero I am describing is very much a product of the 1800s. From that point on, the orphan remains a potent character in English fiction, however the figure does not remain static.

Just as the orphan-hero appeared to fill a particular cultural need, so the figure shifted and changed, adapting to new cultural desires and anxieties such as the intense debates regarding nature and nurture arguments. The deep fissure in eighteenth century society between explanation by nature and nurture are central to all these novels. The orphan figure becomes a handy device for novelists to explore this argument further.

The literal interest is therefore on the orphan’s reaction to the environment and their relationship with others and not on the orphan per se. Tony Tanner claims that the orphan is able to occupy a superlative position in relation to other characters in fiction because of their liminality. According to Tanner the attributes of liminality or of liminal personae are necessarily ambiguous, since this condition and these people slip through the network of classification that normally locate states and positions in cultural space. Liminal entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention and ceremonial.’ Due to the orphan’s ability to reside both inside and outside society allows the novelist to collect, reflect and embody that which constitutes the social enabling novelists to explore the social and domestic sphere.

This thesis will argue that the orphan figures in eighteenth century literature represent a contrivance to uncover discrepancies in the social, familial institutions of the age and to critique the aristocratic ideology rather than an expression of social concern.Throughout our lives we move from one story to the next. Whether we are listeners, readers or writers “we live our lives immersed in stories.’ From the many stories we encounter, both fiction and non-fiction, the orphan figure stands out as one of the most prominent figures in literature. Orphan figures have prevailed in the literary arena for centuries, from ancient poetry, folktales, and myths to modern day novels. This constant reoccurrence of the orphan figure in literature emphasizes the need to understand the significance attached to it.

However, according to the editors of Bastardy and its Comparative History literatures great interest on the orphan figure is poorly reflected in literary criticism. It is further stated that if at all criticism on the orphan is dealt only as an element in the commentaries on the literary works in which they appear. Thus far the orphan has failed to seek out a treatment of its own in most literary criticisms. Since the extent of literary criticism dedicated to the orphan is diminutive, this thesis undertakes the task of filling this critical gap by examining the thematic and formal importance of the orphan hero in the works of three major eighteenth century British novels.

Although the orphan has existed in the literary arena for centuries, the representation and attitude towards the literary orphan figure has transformed over time. Alison Findley’s research on the portrayal of the orphan figure in English renaissance drama assert that fifteenth and sixteenth century literature positions the orphan along with the thief, the beggar and the prostitute that symbolized the malfunctioning social institutions. Her research further states that the orphan figure is an embodiment of the illicit relationships and degenerating moral values of society. Unfortunately, it was the child who was born fatherless or abandoned by the parents that was deemed responsible and punished by the social institutions for threatening the existing social order, the patriarchy, the traditional family structure as well as undermining religious and moral values.

Social institutions denied the orphan the right to inherit, the right to own property. Furthermore, until law reformation in 198- a child that was born out of wedlock was declared illegitimate in the eyes of the law and of the church? Even if the parents got married after the birth. Society marginalized the child that resulted from extramarital affairs rather than the adults who theoretically should bare all responsibility for this alleged moral depletion of society, and the destruction of the order of nature. ——- notes that the orphan figure shed its untamed and negative representation of the past and entered the developing novel as a heroic figure in eighteenth century English novel.(ck article). The establishment of orphan as heroic figure in eighteenth century literature is commonly associated with the dawn of the enlightenment and romanticism in the eighteenth century. Furthermore, the socio-historic explanation correlates the increasing philanthropic gestures for example the establishing of foundling hospitals and the increased attention on the child with the rise in positive orphan figures in literature.

This literary revolution was perceived as a reflection of the rise in the care and protection of orphaned and abandoned children, in other words an expression of social concern. This study is committed to the eighteenth century English novel because this was when the literary orphan came to be celebrated as a heroic figure in English literature, thus marking a notable departure from earlier representations of the orphan. This socio-historical commentary is valid however; it disregards the fact that the novels are not accurate portrayals of society. Important facts: first the philanthropic attitude in the novels is simply not a reflection of the literal changes in society, the novels cannot be classified an expression of social concern or as a medium through which to educate the reader. Primarily because fictional stories distort the position of the real orphan in society by depicting orphans as heroic character in literature. With the exclusion of infant adoptions, the orphaning experience is usually much more violent, and much less rewarding, than depicted in literature.

Even if actual orphaning experiences have not been seen as a valuable source for either fiction or social science in the past, they remain a rich subject area to be explored in both the present and future. Furthermore while traditional fictional literature tends to downplay the experience of orphaning, using it as a means to open a story or manage a plot, orphans replay the orphaning circumstances over and over again in their imaginations. For popular authors, the orphan is a blank canvas with no conflicting background to interfere with their creative directions. Yet the same orphaning which allows fictional writers freedom of expression generates a never ending nightmare of unanswered questions for the orphans themselves. Blank canvases provide few answers to life’s many complex questions. From the time of orphaning and continuing throughout adulthood, the absence of parental sources of information creates a multitude of dilemmas for orphans. Fictional orphan stories are inaccurate and incomplete depictions of the literal orphans.

Furthermore, fictional orphan literature gives readers an impression of commonality among orphans. This impression is rooted in the orphan’s solitude and loneliness. Through the successful exploits of fictional orphans there is a sense of sameness among these characters. There are five underlying characteristics of orphan related fiction that form an explanation for this sense of sameness. First, orphaned characters in fiction are extremely successful. Second, many fictional orphans have dual personas, allowing them to fulfil a wide range of roles.

Finally, most classical orphan heroes in Western literature are depicted as white, Euro-centric characters. In contrast, testimonies that arise from orphans’ narratives indicate that daily lives of orphans are far more mundane, are generally less consequential to society; and provide rewards vastly inferior to those afforded their fictional representatives. In order to proceed to address the issue of orphans in literature, the definition for the term orphan has to be established. A look into the epytomology of the term reveals its Greek roots and of its longstanding historical presence. From its birth the term orphan has been associated with children without parents. Samuel Johnson’s’ dictionary provides an eighteenth century definition of orphan, this dictionary states that an orphan is a child who is bereft of one or both parents.

Similarly, the Oxford English Dictionary defines an orphan as a child, both of whose parents are dead,’ and also as a person or thing deprived of protection, advantages, benefits, or happiness previously enjoyed; something which has been abandoned or ignored,’ deprived of protection analogous to that of a parent; solitary, unconnected, unmatched.’ Some other literary terms, fictional and non-fictional, used in analogous to the term orphan are: adopted, abandoned, black market baby, exposed, foundling, foster-child, foundling, illegitimate, indentured, parentless, ward, bastard, guttersnipe, stray, street kid, urchin, waif, whoreson, and so forth. However, a quandary would arise from precisely defining the other terms, and will also misrepresent this study’s target population.

Therefore this will research allow for a more liberal definition of the term, orphan. Succinctly, the child’s experience on the absence of parental protection and guidance will be the subject of this study of course, this is a broad interpretation of the term orphan, but the English language offers no better expressions. Therefore, if inadvertent injustice must be done to an expression for this study, let that term be orphan. With such a broad definition of orphan, the vast and ever growing supply of orphan related fictional stories for analysis is endless.There is a vast collection of English narratives that feature orphan protagonists; therefore all these novels are potential candidates for this research.

However, the scope of this research will only permit to accommodate three novels, which are as follows: Daniel Defoe’s Fortunes and Misfortunes of Moll Flanders (1722), Henry Fielding’s History of Tom Jones (1749) and Tobias Smollett’s The expedition of Humphrey Clinker (1771). The pattern in these stories is reflected in the lives of people who feel from birth as if they are not a part of their family. Yet precisely because orphans are not allowed into the family circle, they have to develop independence early in life. The absence of family influences, attitudes, and traditions inspires or compels the Orphan Child to construct an inner reality based on personal judgment and experience.

Orphans who succeed at finding a path of survival on their own are celebrated in fairy tales and folk stories as having won a battle with a dark force, which symbolically represents the fear of surviving alone in this world. Freed of parents and, thus, of a personal history, the orphan becomes the self-made person. Conversely, the orphan figure in fiction blossomed precisely because of this parentless state. According to Kimball’s research there are common elements in orphan centered stories. In her research Kimball concludes:It has been said there are no new stories, just retelling of old ones. A comparison of orphan tales from around the world has shown that, while the details of the stories are not the same, there are some common elements that can be extracted..

… These same elements exist in literary tales.

(p. 573). This conception of commonality originates in the orphan’s solitude-a loneliness captured time and again by Defoe, Fielding and Smollett.

Ex ex ex::: Whether it’s in the orphaning events, the mistreatment of the orphaned protagonists, or the successful exploits of the orphans, there is a sense of similarity among these characters whose stories seldom cross paths. Linked to the successes of orphans, fantastic happenings tend to extend beyond believability like discovery of parents, of wealth and of their earned merit and ability to rise up the social ladder and become wealthy as well as gaining inheritance rights and property rights that are denied to the literal orphan. Stories of the orphaning experience are fascinating, but what do anecdotal orphan stories offer society? They provide us with a means for critically examining the orphaning experience. Based on modern research and anecdotal reports, it is difficult to draw any conclusive inferences about orphans in general.

There is no way to establish, or even estimate the number of orphans in contemporary society or present in eighteenth century England. Kimball further states that the contrast between orphan stories is so great that it is virtually impossible to claim any sense of consensus. However, a more careful scrutiny of orphan narratives, nonetheless, offers evidence of some recurring responses to orphaning that may hold true for many orphans. The recurring patterns in orphan literature are as follows: characters, mistreatment, quests, and surmounting obstacles, helpers and other characters, obstacles, rewards, and punishment of those who oppose orphans Kimball’s research can be reduced to two general categories. Firstly Character development, the primary distinction of orphan-heroes is that they are not bound by any particular formula. This category includes five of Kimball’s themes: characters, mistreatment, quests, and surmounting obstacles; (3) Structural elements: Generally speaking, Aristotle (trans. 1895) laid the foundation for literary thought when he argued “.

..the proper structure of the Plot” is one that is “…an imitation of an action that is complete, and whole.

.. A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end” (7:1-3). The story (especially in contemporary Western literary theory), therefore, is relatively straightforward and linear, adhering to a rubric offered by Gustav Freytag (1863). In Technique of the Drama, the German critic described the typical plot as a pyramidal shape consisting of an introduction or beginning, rising action or complications and developments, climax, falling action or denouement, and catastrophe or closing action. This formula for the structural elements includes Kimball’s four remaining themes: helpers and other characters, obstacles, rewards, and punishment of those who oppose orphans.

At the basic level of plot, the orphan was able to behave with a degree of mischievousness and to pursue a level of adventure denied to children who has parents to honour and obey. More significantly, the successes the orphan achieved is entirely their own thereby owing no debt to family. Mischief, adventure, and success were played out in the realm of an orphan’s world; nevertheless, they clearly stood for adult actions and represented supremely independent virtues: risk-taking, independence, self-reliance. However, the characteristics of orphanhood in English fiction extend beyond these elements of plot to assume symbolic weight. In the absence of a father and even of any memory of a father, the orphan boy is the self-made person. Fatherless, he is, in fact, self-created.

Lacking a family history, he is free of any a priori connections to society.The orphan hero I am describing is very much a product of the 1800s. From that point on, the orphan remains a potent character in English fiction, however the figure does not remain static. Just as the orphan-hero appeared to fill a particular cultural need, so the figure shifted and changed, adapting to new cultural desires and anxieties such as the intense debates regarding nature and nurture arguments. The deep fissure in eighteenth century society between explanation by nature and nurture are central to all these novels. The orphan figure becomes a handy device for novelists to explore this argument further. The literal interest is therefore on the orphan’s reaction to the environment and their relationship with others and not on the orphan per se. Tony Tanner claims that the orphan is able to occupy a superlative position in relation to other characters in fiction because of their liminality. According to Tanner the attributes of liminality or of liminal personae are necessarily ambiguous, since this condition and these people slip through the network of classification that normally locate states and positions in cultural space. Liminal entities are neither here nor there; they are betwixt and between the positions assigned and arrayed by law, custom, convention and ceremonial.’ Due to the orphan’s ability to reside both inside and outside society allows the novelist to collect, reflect and embody that which constitutes the social enabling novelists to explore the social and domestic sphere. This thesis will argue that the orphan figures in eighteenth century literature represent a contrivance to uncover discrepancies in the social, familial institutions of the age and to critique the aristocratic ideology rather than an expression of social concern.

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