The Effective Protagonist in the Nineteenth-Century British Novel is an experiment in post-Jungian literary criticism and methodology. Its primary aim is to challenge current views about the correlation between narrative structure, gender, and the governing psychological dilemma in four nineteenth-century British novels. The overarching argument is that the opening situation in a novel represents an implicit challenge facing not the obvious hero/heroine but the individual that Terence Dawson defines as the "effective protagonist." To illustrate his claim, Dawson pairs two sets of novels with unexpectedly comparable dilemmas: Ivanhoe with The Picture of Dorian Gray and Wuthering Heights with Silas Marner. In all four novels, the effective protagonist is an apparently minor figure whose crucial function in the ordering of the events has been overlooked. Rereading these well-known texts in relation to hitherto neglected characters uncovers startling new issues at their heart and demonstrates innovative ways of exploring both narrative and literary tradition.
'In unusually strong, jargon-free prose, Dawson offers an innovative model for psychological approaches to literary interpretation, a new look at gender-based criticism, and startlingly original readings of four canonical British novels.' George P. Landow, Professor of English and Art History, Brown University 'In this provocative book, Dawson offers exciting new readings of four nineteenth-century British novels… Dawson's careful employment of Jungian analysis yields fascinating new interpretations of these works and encourages readers to use similar strategies in examining the psychological and structural complexities of the novel.' ELT 'The Effective Protagonist is a very impressive work of post-Jungian literary criticism. It deserves to be adopted as a key model for the development of the Jungian treatment of literature. Moreover, Dawson's pioneering work ought to be recognised by the whole discipline of literary studies as a major advance in the understanding of literary form. This book is an important addition to post-Jungian studies and an 'effective' argument for the greater inclusion of Jung in the humanities.' Harvest, International Journal for Jungian Studies