Degree Year

1996

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

Keywords

Montgomery, Adolescence

Abstract

Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on Prince Edward Island, Canada, in 1874. She did not live there her whole life, but it held an important place in her life. The Island was a constant presence in her fiction, and only one of her 23 novels is set completely away from it. Montgomery has long been considered solely a children's writer, though two of her books were written for an adult audience, and the majority of her work holds appeal for a general audience. She remains largely unknown by scholars, but has come under some critical scrutiny with the recent growth in children's literature criticism. The critical studies focus on Anne of Green Gables as her best-known novel, treating it as a children's book, or domestic fiction, or sentimental fiction. There is no consensus as to category, for that book or her work in general. Nor is there consensus as to its worth. In many ways Montgomery is still on the fringe.

I was introduced to Montgomery when I was a teenager, and I have constantly reread her work over the last ten years. Most of her novels lend themselves to rereading; new layers of meaning are constantly revealed. I chose to study Montgomery because of these layers of meaning. I felt that in exploring her work in an academic framework I would be covering new ground, not just repeating the work of others. Reading her novels with a critical focus, I became aware that Montgomery is especially interested in describing adolescence. Montgomery emphasizes the potential within her adolescent heroines as they come to define their identity. She structures the experience of adolescence around a set of cultural markers which are the same from book to book, despite the differences in the heroines themselves. Her use of these markers is the focus of my study.

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