Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Roy Miller, William McMahon, Will Fridy

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


George Meredith's Modern Love deals with a formula for achieving happiness in life by a man whose marriage has failed. His marital breakup serves as a catalyst for the husband's internal journey which, through intense self questionings, leads him to a fuller understanding of himself and his purpose within the harmony of nature. Definite overt action and external events are secondary in the sonnet sequence. Indeed, the major portion of the work is conveyed by images which reveal the husband's developing psychological states. As Lionel Stevenson says of Modern Love in the standard biography of Meredith,

. . . the action is not easy to decipher; and, once deciphered, it sounds like the plot of a conventional "problem" drama. This was merely the framework, however, on which Meredith displayed his interpretation of . . . ethical and psychological issues.1

Modern Love, then, which expresses a vision of reality based upon the interaction of the protagonist's inner consciousness with his external environment, is the vehicle for Meredith's philosophy concerning right--proper--action in life. The husband in the sonnet sequence learns through suffering that man must observe nature, accommodate himself to and accept change, and apply reason to his instinct.

1. Lionel Stevenson, The Ordeal of George Meredith (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1953), p. 104.


Arts and Humanities | English Language and Literature | Literature in English, British Isles