Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Although there are many reasons for reading and writing literature, perhaps the most compelling one is to gain knowledge of and access to the self. One of the most interesting aspects in the literary study of the self involves the individual's perception of his public and private self. This differentiation between the public an dprivate persona is developed in dept in Stendhal's The Red and the Black and Thomas Mann's The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man. The protagonists of these two works lead lives of duplicity and hypocrisy, each submerging his private personality in order to get ahead in the world. Julien Sorel and Felix Krull finely tune and polish their public identities in their attempts to rise to the top of their respective societies. There is, however, an unusual twist in the stories of these two protagonists determined to use theiir natural abilities to advance their positions in life. Neither Julien nor Felix maintains the two separate personae of his private and public selves. Julien is constantly tormented by his division of self, and although he alternately tries to live according to the dictates of his private and public selves, he fails in this attempt and is never able to reconcile these two aspects of himself. Felix, on the other hand, does not even try to distinguish between his public and private identities. Rather, he so assimilates the values and ideas of his public identity that his private sel fdisappears.
Mowery, Roberta, "A study of the self in The Red and the Black and The Confessions of Felix Krull, Confidence Man" (1988). Honors Theses. 245.