The eternal outsider: the western hero as existential archetype

Griffin, R.E. ORCID: 0000-0001-5821-7155, 2004. The eternal outsider: the western hero as existential archetype. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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This thesis explores American western films of the 1945-65 period. The primary purpose of the thesis is to analyse the western's outsider hero in relation to literary-philosophical versions of French existential heroism. It therefore begins by examining processes of cultural exchange between America and France. The thesis then goes on to identify and compare the nature of outsider-ness as configured by both western and existentialist outsider figures. As a result, individualism emerges as their common constituent. That said, the thesis transcends the individualistic co-ordinates of the outsider figure through the employment of an ontological mode of critique. This involves the application of key ontological concepts such as autonomy, alienation and absurdity to the western's outsider figure. These are suggested by the ontological mode of being he inhabits, which is designated as the authentic in-itself. Consequently, the creative interpretation of western representations and narratives in light of existentialist concepts becomes possible. Recast in ontological terms, the western is found to provide a more fully worked out treatment of individual autonomy than that offered by the existentialist works from which it derives. This is due to the western's non-societal context, a mythical space which enables a presentation of individual autonomy unconstrained by the societal configurations which beset the existentialist outsider. With this in mind, the western's positive presentation of autonomy and the power it confers is contrasted with existentialism's negative view, which emphasises the alienation and punishment of the societal outsider. At the same time, both forms ultimately affirm that autonomy is unattainable within societal configurations, the western by its reliance on a mythical context, and existentialism through its presentation of the punishment attendant upon the outsider in a societal context. Conclusions such as these demonstrate the distinctive contribution that an ontological critique of the kind undertaken by this thesis can make to the study of the western hero.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: Griffin, R.E.
Date: 2004
ISBN: 9781369313338
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 28 Aug 2020 15:05
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2023 09:14

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