Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

On Artistic Characteristics of Toni Morrison's Beloved

Academic journal article Cross - Cultural Communication

On Artistic Characteristics of Toni Morrison's Beloved

Article excerpt

Abstract

Toni Morrison is a famous African American writer. She is the first African American Nobel Prize winner, to a great degree; Toni Morrison has influenced American literature. She has made great contribution to black American literature. The critics and scholars have paid a great attention to her achievements in novels. Till now Morrison has finished 9 novels. Among them, her fifth novel Beloved is considered the best. Beloved has won 1988 Pulitzer Prize and Robert F. Kennedy Award. This paper will center on such artistic characteristics as magic narration technique, employment of archetypes and utilization of the symbols. Through systematic analysis of the novel, the reader can better appreciate Morrison's writing features.

Key words: Artistic characteristics; Magic narration; Archetypes; Symbols

INTRODUCTION

Toni Morrison was born on February 18, 1931 in Lorain, Ohio, USA. Morrison excelled in high school, graduated from Howard University, and received her master's degree from Cornell University. Initially opting for a career as a teacher and editor, Morrison became an instructor at several historical black universities and worked for Random House. She brought such as Angela Davis and Toni Cade Bambara to national prominence. Morrison began her first novel The Bluest Eye while she taught at Howard University. It was published in 1970. Till now she has finished and published 9 novels. Among them, her fifth novel Beloved is considered as her masterpiece. Beloved has won 1988 Pulitzer Prize and Robert F. Kennedy Award. In 1993, she won the Nobel Prize for Literature. She is the first American writer of African origin, and only American woman since Pearl S. Buck, to obtain such an everlasting glory. She was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature for her novel Beloved. Beloved was set during the reconstruction era in 1873. Morrison paints a dark and powerful portrait of the dehumanizing effects of slavery. For the former slaves in the novel, the past is a burden that they desperately and fully try to forget. Yet for Sethe the protagonist of the novel, memories of the past are inescapable, because she cannot walk out of the shadow of the past. They continue to haunt her, literally, in the spirit of her deceased daughter. Eighteen years earlier, Sethe had murdered this daughter in order to save her from a life of slavery. In fact, Morrison borrowed the event from the real story of Margaret Gamer, who, like Sethe, escaped from the slavery in Kentucky and attempted to murder all her children and succeeded in killing her baby girl when the slave catchers caught up with her in Ohio. Beloved straddles the line between fiction and history. Through the use of her unique and remarkable style Morrison presents the reader with glimpses of the past which creep through both the cracks in Sethe's memory and the plot of the novel, revealing a desperate act of love more haunting than any baby ghost. Due to the horror of slavery Sethe's murder of Beloved is transformed into what Morrison controversially deems 'the ultimate gesture of a loving mother', whose action proclaims, 'to kill my children is preferable to having them die. From a single family's experiences, Morrison shows how the psychological and historical legacy of slavery influences a family.

As the first African American Nobel Prize winner, to a great degree, Toni Morrison has greatly influenced American literature. The critics have paid a great attention to her achievements in novels. Especially in recent years, studying Toni Morrison's novels is a very hot topic. There are a large number of essays and book-length studies on various topics in different methodologies. Of course, as a representative work of Toni Morrison's, Beloved is also hotly discussed. Some critics wrote some essays to comment this novel from different perspectives. In short, Morrison's work has attracted wide attention of the academic circle, and more and more people use a variety of academic literary theory to analyze the novel. …

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