The dialogics of satire : foci and faultlines in George Orwell's Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four

Goodman, Ralph (2000-12)

Dissertation (PhD)--Stellenbosch University, 2000.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: This thesis uses Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of dialogism, as well as postmodernism, to open up faultlines in satire, and to explore and challenge various perceptions and discourses surrounding and related to it. Both dialogism and postmodernism are used to suggest fresh approaches to satire, by repositioning it in relation to other discourses and reframing it as a complex dynamic, rather than a closed and inflexible system. Chapter 1 of the thesis opens with an historical survey of the beginnings and subsequent development of satire. It also contains a general discussion of the nature of satiric strategies and opens the door for the incorporation of postmodern perspectives into the argument. Chapter 2 contrasts the issues of morality and re-presentation in satire, arguing that satirists do not simply invite their audience to condemn, but offer them an opportunity to discover alternative worlds. The affinity between satire and postmodernism is emphasised by the postmodern predilection for modes highly favoured by satire: allegory, parody and fantasy. In Chapter 3 the issue of language and its referents is explored, starting with Saussure's theory of how the signifier and the signified function. It is argued that satire has never respected this fixed relationship, and that it is in this respect similar to deconstruction. The last part of the chapter is devoted to examining four key socio-political discourses - psychoanalysis, ideology, propaganda and political myth - in relation to satire. These four discourses are, like satire, intent on influencing the perceptions which people have of the world. The intention in juxtaposing these discourses is to create a dialogic process which will throw a fresh light on all of them, including satire itself. The four socio-political discourses named above play an important part in Animal Farm and Nineteen Eighty-Four, and are relevant to the subsequent discussion of these novels. Chapter 4 consists of a detailed discussion of Animal Farm, in which the various layers comprising the work are examined. The satirical aspects of the novel are closely related to the fabular and fairy tale elements which are an important part of its constitution. These elements or levels are juxtaposed with the historical details alluded to continuously in Animal Farm and indicate its close concern with the world outside the novel. Chapter 5 consists of a detailed exploration of Nineteen Eighty-Four, which is illuminated by a process of dialogism between the modernist ideology from which the novel springs and the postmodern perspective introduced into the thesis, as well as the four socio-political discourses mentioned earlier. The main postmodern theories used in this chapter are those of Foucault. The last section of the thesis demonstrates how Orwell's personal experience drives his satire, and relates this specifically to a discussion of utopia / dystopia in satire.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die Dialogiek van Satire: Fokuspunte en Breuke in Orwell se Animal Farm en Nineteen Eighty-Four: Hierdie proefskrif maak gebruik van Mikhail Bakhtin se teorie van dialogisme, sowel as die postmodernisme, om die breuke in satire bloot te le, en om die verskillende persepsies en diskoerse wat verband hou met die satire te ondersoek en te bevraagteken. Beide die dialogisme en die postmodernisme word gebruik om nuwe perspektiewe op satire te open, deur dit te herposisioneer in verhouding tot ander diskoerse en dit voor te stel in terme van 'n komplekse dinamika eerder as 'n geslote en onbuigsame sisteem. Die eerste hoofstuk van die proefskrif begin met 'n historiese oorsig van die oorspronge en daaropvolgende ontwikkeling van satire. Dit omvat ook 'n algemene bespreking van die aard van satiriese strateqiee en open die moontlikheid om postmodernistiese perspektiewe in die argument te integreer. Hoofstuk 2 kontrasteer die kwessies van moraliteit en representasie in satire met mekaar; daar word geargumenteer dat satirici nie net hulle gehore uitnooi om te veroordeel nie, maar hulle die geleentheid gee om alternatiewe werelde te ontdek. Die verwantskap tussen satire en postmodernisme word benadruk deur die postmodernisme se voorliefde vir die modi waaraan die satire so dikwels voorkeur gee: allegorie, parodie en fantasie. In hoofstuk 3 word die kwessie van taal en referensialiteit ondersoek, beginnende by Saussure se teorie oor die funksionering van die betekenaar en die betekende. Daar word geargumenteer dat satire nog nooit die vaste verhouding tussen betekenaar en betekende eerbiedig het nie, en dat dit in hierdie opsig verwant is aan die dekonstruksie. Die laaste gedeelte van die hoofstuk word gewy aan 'n ondersoek van vier sentrale sosio-politiese diskoerse - psigoanalise, ideologie, propaganda en politieke mitologie - in verhouding met satire. Hierdie vier diskoerse is, soos satire, daarop ingestel om mense se persepsies/opvattings van die. wereld te verander. Die doelstelling met die jukstaposisie van hierdie diskoerse is die skep van 'n dialogiese proses wat al vier hierdie diskoerse, insluitende satire, in 'n nuwe lig sal stel. Die genoemde sosio-politiese diskoerse speel 'n belangrike rol in Animal Farm en Nineteen Eighty-Four, en is relevant vir die daaropvolgende bespreking van die romans. Hoofstuk 4 bestaan uit 'n gedetailleerde bespreking van Animal Farm, waarin daar ondersoek ingestel word na die verskillende lae waaruit die roman bestaan. Die satiriese aspekte van die roman word in noue verband gebring met die fabulere en die feeverhaalelemente wat so 'n belangrike deel uitmaak van die roman se samestelling. Hierdie elemente of vlakke word gejukstaponeer met die historiese detail waarna daar deurlopend in Animal Farm verwys word en wat die noue bemoeienis met die wereld buite die roman aandui. Hoofstuk 5 bestaan uit 'n intensiewe ondersoek van Nineteen Eighty-Four, wat belig word deur 'n proses van dialogisme tussen die modernistiese ideologie waaruit die roman spruit en die postmodernistiese perspektiewe wat in die proefskrif ingevoer word. Die belangrikste postmodernistiese teoriee wat in hierdie hoofstuk gebruik word, is die van Foucault. Die laaste afdeling van die proefskrif demonstreer hoedat Orwell se persoonlike ervaring bepalend is vir sy satire en bring dit spesifiek in verband met 'n bespreking van utopie/distopie in satire.

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