Water symbolism in the fiction of Margaret Laurence
Master of Arts
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Margaret Laurence makes frequent reference to the element, water, and also uses water-related words in her fiction; often these convey symbolic meanings. This thesis is based on a study of Laurence's five novels: This Side Jordan, The Stone Angel, A Jest of God, The Fire-Dwellers and The Diviners. In these novels fifty water-related words are used a total of over five hundred times. Frequently the symbolism involved in the use of many of these words is directed towards one of several specific functions. The purpose of this thesis is to present an analysis of these functions. Out of the more than twenty possible symbolic functions of water itself and water-related words in the five novels, three functions have been chosen for analysis because of their obvious predominance. Laurence's use of water symbols or water-related symbols to depict the four major periods in man's life is discussed in Chapter I. Chapter II emphasizes her use of this symbolism with regard to the survival and regenerative forces in man's life. In Chapter III Laurence's use of similar symbolism to assist in the creation of characterization is emphasized. All these functions Laurence has incorporated successfully into the weaving of her fiction, making the symbolism intrinsic in the sense that it does not intrude upon the reader; however, the presence of the water symbolism and all the other symbolism in the novels stimulates the reader who either consciously, unconsciously or subconsciously interprets the symbols and so gains a new depth of understanding and appreciation for the writing.