Under the Net Essay

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In the following essay, Porter examines Murdoch's use of leitmotiv—the recurring blending of certain words, images, and symbols to convey a deeper, cohesive meaning—in Under the Net.

Iris Murdoch, like many other twentieth-century novelists, began her literary career with a Bildungsroman. While commenting on Under the Net (1954), Miss Murdoch's first novel, a number of critics have pointed out that Jake Donaghue, the protagonist of the novel, is seeking a way to encounter the world and find himself. Jacques Souvage sees Jake striving for "self-fulfillment based upon self-knowledge"; Frederick Hoffman comments that Jake is constantly revising his conduct "to guarantee its freedom from theory"; and Malcolm Bradbury feels that Donaghue is "a writer or intellectual who is not sure how much one owes to the aesthetic and the social, with their contesting claims."

When we first meet Jake, he is in no way involved with...

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This section contains 2,777 words
(approx. 7 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Under the Net Study Guide
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Under the Net from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.