Pierre: or, The Ambiguities | Critical Essay by Nicholas Canaday, Jr.

This literature criticism consists of approximately 17 pages of analysis & critique of Pierre: or, The Ambiguities.
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SOURCE: “Melville's Pierre: At War with Social Convention,” in Papers on Language and Literature, Vol. V, No. 1, Winter, 1969, pp. 51-62.

In the following essay, Canaday explores Melville's treatment of the individual's need to follow his or her moral imperative—even at the cost of defying social convention—and describes the writer's attitude toward the problem as ambivalent.

The elements in Pierre Glendinning's vision of himself as Enceladus, when late in the novel Melville's hero contemplates the ruin of his life “with prophetic discomfiture and woe,” provide by analogy a significant comment on Pierre's career in its penultimate moment.1 Like Enceladus he is a rebel, and the “doubly incestuous” (408) Titan prefigures Pierre in his relationship with his mother and Isabel. But another element in the Enceladus myth has not received sufficient...

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This section contains 4,896 words
(approx. 17 pages at 300 words per page)
Buy the Critical Essay by Nicholas Canaday, Jr.
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Literature Criticism Series
Critical Essay by Nicholas Canaday, Jr. from Literature Criticism Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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