The current essay deals with the problem of the author’s obsessions, inclinations, personal orientations, and symbolism realization within the format of his literary work. There is no denying the importance of the fact that within literary critique more attention was historically drawn to the problem of the literary piece as a structural entity with its plot, fibula, and expressive means.
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However, it is equally interesting and scientifically valuable to understand how the author’s personal psychological and mindset visions are represented in his works which relates both the problematic of sociology, psychoanalysis, gender studies, and various interdisciplinary fields. In this research paper, we will try to analyze what themes, obsessions, symbols are running through Willa Cather’s literary heritage and how they are tied with her life.
Obsessions of Willa Cather
Among the major literary obsessions of Willa Cather, one should point her for her realist and at the same time romantic depictions of frontier life in the United States.
For instance, in her 1913 novel O Pioneers, she narrates the life of young Swedish emigrant Alexandra Bergson which received a heritage from her father in the United States and moved there to start a successful carrier. Cather shows all social contradictions which were characteristic of her time including human alienation, thirst for wealth, and success.
One of the crucial problems she raises is the position of women in American society. For instance, in O Pioneers she depicts her ideal of woman in the character of Alexandra Bergson, the intelligent and strong-willed woman who opposes the tension of men who surround her and is searching for her way. As Cather tries to show this strong woman’s character is double-edged as Cather can not realize what is going around her in personal relations between her brother Emil Bergson and Marie Shibata, a woman being in an unhappy marriage. This lack of attention to human feelings later results in tragedy.
There is no denying the importance of the fact that the pictures of a tragedy like in O Pioneers where Frank Shibata kills both Emil and Marie when finds out treason are among the major literary obsessions of Willa Cather. However, they are realized without catharsis and in some passive and realistic way which proves that Willa Cather often used the symbol of ill fate as a major symbol in her literary efforts.
The essential element of Cather’s literary habits is using the symbolism of strange and mystique dreams which are described in a surrealistic manner. Their usage as literary symbols occurs in My Antonia and O Pioneers.
Both O Pioneers and My Antonia Cather tell the stories of immigrant families. I think that for Cather their accommodation to new conditions and starting a new life in America was a fruitful material for expressing her ideas, fears, and ambitions.
In My, Antonia Cather creates the protagonist of Antonia Shimerda, a free-hearted and hard-working woman which suffers but not capitulates to various tragedies happening in her life: the suicide of her father. Here, as in her other works, Cather promotes the idea of women’s rights, personal dignity, and free choice of sexual orientation and life.
In this particular book, Cather narrates realistic pictures of laboriousness, patience, and different pathways to the new life in the United States. To sum it up, as our analysis shows Cather’s literary obsessions, frequently used symbols, themes and characters show that her literary character may be researched from the standpoint of her personal, social, and worldview orientations which deeply affected her choice of these themes, symbols, etc. However, the structure of her works should not be neglected as an object of research in its own right.