|Other Abstract||This thesis attempts to study Murdoch’s three novels, Under the Net (1954), The Black Prince (1973), The Sea, the Sea (1978), aiming to probe into Murdoch’s process of unselfing, and thereby to explore the proper way to dissolve the self for existence in a broader sense.
The part of ego is deep-rooted in human history. It is the subject to think, according to Descartes, and the object of close analysis for Freud. Because of its absolutely dominant position, the ego can easily produce distorted reflections and images of the reality and so is filled with fantasies and illusions. Unselfing, the process of dissolving the self, is advocated in some eastern religious creeds. Influenced by Buddhism and Taoism, Murdoch advances unselfing in her literary creation. The ultimate purpose of it is to achieve Good, the illuminating Sun outside Plato’s Cave.
The three novels discussed in this thesis record the process of Murdoch’s maturity on the exploration of unselfing. Jake in Under the Net is the notorious solipsist, who is caged in his own world without any consideration of other existence. His final awakening involves sudden realization of truth and contingencies and the enlightenment from the saint-like character, Hugo. Bradley’s problem originates from his obsession with art. Eros, as Plato tells us, widens his eyes for others, and thus begins his way of de-ego. A religious attitude is discussed in The Sea, the Sea, in which Charles, under the influence of his cousin, James, a Buddhist, finally forsakes his addiction to suffering and returns to the daily London life.
Plato’s theoretical system, and especially his ideas of Good, is the foundation of Murdoch’s philosophical and moral research and pursuit. His Allegory of Cave expatiates on the unselfing process of human beings. The Phrygian musician Marsyas’ holy contact with the divinity, the moment of acute ascesis with equally an agony and an ecstasy, also signifies the endeavor of unselfing. Attention, the key to “the Decreation of I” according to Simone Weil, functions as the first step to unself. Art begins one’s way of searching and Eros opens up the self-closed ego to the objectivity of the world. Buddhism, by teaching the stern lesson of death which has been carefully covered by Christianity, keeps us from a special favor for suffering and sado-masochism.
Unselfing is a result of Murdoch’s lifetime pursuit of Good, the eternal motif in her literary creation. The thesis con...|