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  • Titill er á ensku Death in Children‘s Literature; Exploring Changes in the Portrayal of Death in Children‘s Literature Between the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century
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  • Útdráttur er á ensku

    This essay examines how the portrayal of death and grief in children´s literature changed between the nineteenth and the twentieth century. It looks at fictional work from each era: Tuck Everlasting and Bridge to Terabithia from the twentieth century and “The Little Match Girl” and “The Happy Prince” from the nineteenth century. Each text is explored in the context of the society in which it was written. This essay draws upon prior research conducted by scholars such as Anne Scott Macleod, Jack David Zipes, and Andrew Melrose, to name a few.
    The stories written in the nineteenth century do not shy away from the topic or from depictions of death; instead, they use it to make a social commentary. “The Happy Prince” was written to shine a light on the materialistic and insensitive conduct of the upper classes while “The Little Match Girl” was used to inspire empathy for poor and mistreated children. The stories written in the twentieth century, however, are very careful in their depictions and references to death. Children were then viewed in a completely different way and were thought to be too emotionally delicate to handle such subjects. Tuck Everlasting was written so that children might understand the concept of death by depicting it as inevitable and as a necessary part of life while The Bridge to Terabithia dealt with emotional reactions to the death of loved ones.
    The differences in children’s roles within society and the way children were treated changed dramatically from one century to the next, mostly due to the improved financial positions of the lower classes and the emergence of the middle class. These changes resulted in children being overly protected and distanced from unpleasant experiences such as death, which, in turn, led to the creation of a new literary genre called children’s literature

  • 22.1.2019

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