In Defence of Iris or Doth the Lady Protest Too Much? An Exploration of Rhetoric in The Black Prince and Beyond

Scorrer, P. (2018) In Defence of Iris or Doth the Lady Protest Too Much? An Exploration of Rhetoric in The Black Prince and Beyond. Undergraduate theses, University of Chichester.

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The BBC interview with Bryan Magee for the Philosophy and Literature series was one of my earliest encounters with Iris Murdoch. In her opening remarks on the distinction between philosophical writing and literature she says, “I feel very strongly that one must keep them apart from each other…” making the distinction that “philosophy aims to clarify …and literature is very often mystification” (Murdoch, 1978). So how had she become The Philosophical Novelist? (Leeson, 2010). Subsequent discussions with members of the Iris Murdoch Society revealed a consensus that ‘the lady doth protest too much?’ over this point and her novels very much communicate her own philosophical views and those of Plato, Weil, and Kierkegaard amongst others. However, I still wanted to believe the woman herself. This divergence of thought was further expounded on discussing her novel The Black Prince. The protagonist Bradley Pearson, it would seem, was very much a ‘marmite character’ – some readers loved him and others hated him. How was Murdoch able to stir such dichotomy of feeling towards a character in her readers? The parallels of writing style which Murdoch describes in the interview fall neatly into Aristotle’s suggestion that ‘Rhetoric is the counterpart of Dialectic’. Therefore, it seemed appropriate to apply his principles of rhetoric to The Black Prince and some of her archived writing. Murdoch was an artist whose notion of art as ‘a place which the nature of morality can be seen’, thus the relatively new study of visual rhetoric could not be ignored. Murdoch selects intertextual references and visual images to exemplify rather than clarify, to expand possibilities rather than impose limits. The conclusion of this work is somewhat ambiguous as the findings reveal Murdoch as a skilled rhetorician who considers the freedom of the artist an essential device to communicate moral issues.

Publication Type: Theses (Undergraduate)
Additional Information: BA (Hons)
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Academic Areas > Institute of Arts and Humanities > English and Creative Writing
Student Research > Undergraduate
Depositing User: Wendy Ellison
Date Deposited: 30 Jan 2019 10:40
Last Modified: 30 Jan 2019 10:40

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