Pager-McClymont, Kimberley (2021) Communicating Emotions through Surroundings: a Stylistic Model of Pathetic Fallacy. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

This thesis aims to provide a stylistically founded model of pathetic fallacy (PF hereafter). PF is a Romantic literary technique used in art and literature to convey emotions through natural elements (Ruskin, 1856/2012). This technique has been researched mostly from a literary viewpoint, but no linguistic model exists to define it. It is difficult to identify it precisely or consensually because definitions and uses vary, and it is often associated with other techniques (i.e. personification). Despite those inconsistencies, PF is likely to be taught as part of the DfE subject content for students studying English Literature at GCSE and A Level.

I thus conduct a survey of English teachers to collect their definitions of PF, to find out if they can identify it in stimuli, and to collect examples of texts that feature it. Based on their answers and an analysis of the resultant corpus of texts using a combination of (cognitive) stylistic frameworks, I am able to create an updated stylistic model of PF. The model defines PF as a projection of emotions from an animated entity onto the surroundings. Following a stylistic approach akin to Short (1996), I identify three ‘linguistic indicators’ of PF in my corpus: imagery, repetition, and negation. I draw on metaphor research to further analyse the metaphorical nature of PF and its effects in texts from my corpus. Four effects of PF are identified: communicating implicit emotions, building ambience, building characters, and plot foreshadowing.

This thesis contributes to knowledge in multiple ways: firstly, this model is a contribution to the field of stylistics, as it is the first stylistic model of the technique. I also contribute to metaphor research, namely conceptual metaphor theory, by providing a method of identification for the extended metaphor that is PF. Secondly, the field of education could benefit from this research as the model provides a clear definition of PF and it could be adapted for classroom-based activities. Thirdly, this model is a contribution to literary studies: PF being of the Romantic movement, this updated model contributes to a better understanding of the movement’s characteristics.

Pager-McClymont THESIS.pdf - Accepted Version
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