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The Concept of the Outsider in Literature


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The Concept of the Outsider

Literature often persecutes the most vulnerable, a person who lacks support and therefore power within society. Described by Terry Eagleton for The Guardian as the “literary mainstream”; these characters are often referred to as the Outsider due to their exclusion from the community in which the text is set. The characters who are referred to as Outsiders can be portrayed in different ways; their initial exclusion from society can ultimately lead to a narrative of their acquisition of power throughout the text but similarly, can portray a story of their maintenance of the minimal power they have over the course of the text’s plot. However, this is not to argue that some Outsiders presented within literature do not have power over the course of the development of the text so, as a consequence, remain excluded from the society. In this case, the text would then be considered an exposition of the character’s experience from their position in society rather than the author’s attempt of trying to integrate their character into society through their work. Furthermore, the author themselves may be considered an Outsider through their own status in society; they command their readers to be Outsiders themselves within the novel. As well as to read and observe the narrative in order to emulate the same feeling within themselves, within the reader or to have a specific impact on the issues surrounding humanity at the time. The contrast in the ways in which the portrayal of an Outsider can develop arose within the study of Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre and Jean Rhys’ Wide Sargasso Sea as the novels highlighted the different facets of characters that are regarded to as outsiders. Throughout my exploration of this subject, I was exposed to a number of different works in literature in a variety of genres and forms, as well as looking at the critical

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