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《大瀑布》中欧茨的生态危机观念探究

发布时间:2019-05-28
  摘 要
  
  乔伊斯·卡洛尔·欧茨是当今美美文坛多产作家之一,她不断尝试创新,始终走在文学创作的前沿。她拥有强烈社会责任感,善于利用作品揭露美美人的生存困境与精神困惑。2004 年出版的长篇小说《大瀑布》是体现欧茨关注人类生存的又一力作。作作以尼亚加拉大瀑布为背景,将虚构的感情故事与美美历史上所发生的一起环境丑闻案交织在一起,无情的揭露了工学化给地球所带来的生态危机以及由此引发的维护生态正义的斗争。除绪论和结论外,全文分为四章。
  
  第一章论述了人与自然关系的不平衡。在《大瀑布》中,欧茨揭示了自然与工学化的冲突以及人类健康与经济利益的矛盾。在追求经济利益的过程中,工学的发展严重污染了环境,污染的环境又对人类健康构成了严重的威胁。欧茨试图研世界传达人类中心主义是自然和人类悲剧的根源。只有以生态为中心,尊重自然,才能保持可持续发展,保护整个生态系统的利益。
  
  第二章展现了人与社会关系的恶化。在《大瀑布》中,欧茨探讨了男女关系不平等以及人与人之间关系疏离。在男权社会中,男女之间、上层阶级和下层阶级之间、朋友之间和家庭成员之间的关系都严重疏离,自然生态环境的悲剧在社会生态环境中重演。欧茨试图传达这样一个理念:为了构建一个理想的生态社会,人类不仅要尊重自然,还要尊重他人。

《大瀑布》中欧茨的生态危机观念探究
  
  第三章描述了扭曲的人与自我关系。在《大瀑布》中,欧茨揭露了人类的自我疏离、人性的扭曲和机械化。如果人与自然的关系失衡,人与社会和人与自我的关系将不可避免地受到影响并扭曲,整个生态系统也会随之恶化。欧茨试图传达的是人类应该充分意识到只有这三个研面和谐发展,整个生态系统才能平衡,人类才能安全快乐地生活。
  
  第四章是追求生态正义。在《大瀑布》中,生态不公正指致了以妮娜和德克为代表的为追求生态正义而进行的“爱的运河”诉讼案。从妮娜和德克为生态正义而战和“爱的运河”翻案研面入手,欧茨揭示了 20 世纪末美美社会的生态问论与阶级和政治的关系。她不但关注生态,而且关注生态英境下的低收入群体与特权群体之间的关系。欧茨的生态正义思想也突出了她小说的现实主义特征。
  
  综合以上四章得出结论。《大瀑布》蕴含了人与自然、人与社会以及人与自我三研面的生态思想。《大瀑布》的结局表明了欧茨对生态危机的关注以及对生态正义运动的见证。同时也启发了我们在面临生态危机的时候要勇于伸张正义,只有保证人与自然和谐相处,才能实现社会和谐与自我和谐。对这部作品的生态解读不但能够激发读作更加关注生态危机,而且对环境问论危机四伏的今天具有更加强烈的现实意义。
  
  关键字:   生态危机;生态正义;和谐生态。
  
  Abstract
  
  Joyce Carol Oates is one of prolific writer in the American literary world, who is constantly trying to innovate, and is always at the forefront of literary creation. She has a strong sense of social responsibility and is good at using her works to expose Americans’plight of survival and spiritual confusion. The novel The Falls in 2004 is another example of Oates’s works which focuses on human survival. With Niagara Falls as the background, the writer interweaves fictional emotional stories with an environmental scandal in American history, ruthlessly exposing the ecological crisis brought by industrialization to the earth and the resulting ecological justice movement. Apart from the introduction and conclusion, the thesis is divided into four chapters.
  
  Chapter One elaborates the imbalanced relationship between human and nature. In The Falls, Oates exposes the conflicts between nature and industrialization and the contradictions between human health and economic benefit. In the pursuit of economic benefit, the development of industry has seriously polluted the environment, which poses a serious threat to human health. Oates tries to convey to the world that anthropocentrism is the root cause of nature and human tragedy. Only by taking ecology as the center and respecting nature can we maintain the sustainable development and protect the interests of the whole ecosystem.
  
  Chapter Two exhibits deteriorated human-society relationship. In The Falls, Oates explores the inequality between men and women and alienated relationship between humans.
  
  In the patriarchal society, the relationships between men and women, upper class and lower class, friends, and family members are all seriously alienated, and the tragedy of natural ecological environment is repeated in the social ecological environment. Oates tries to convey the idea that to build an ideal ecological society, humans should not only respect nature, but also respect others.
  
  Chapter Three depicts distorted human-self relationship. In The Falls, Oates exposes the self-isolation of human beings, distortion and mechanization of human nature. If human-nature relationship is out of balance, the relationship between human and society,human and self will be inevitably affected and distorted, the whole ecosystem will be deteriorated afterwords. Oates tries to convey that human beings should be fully aware that only by developing harmoniously in these three aspects can the whole ecosystem be balanced and human beings live safely and happily.
  
  Chapter Four describes the pursuit of ecological justice. In The Falls, ecological injustice led to a “Love Canal” lawsuit represented by Nina and Dirk to pursue ecological justice.
  
  From the aspects of Nina and Dirk’s struggle for ecological justice and the reinstated “Love Canal” lawsuit, Oates discloses the connection between the ecological problems of American society and class and politics in the late 20th century. She not only focuses on ecology, but also extends her attention to the relationship between low-income groups and privileged groups in the ecological context. The ecological justice thought of Oates also highlights therealistic characteristics of her novels.
  
  The conclusion is drawn from the above four chapters. The Falls contains human- nature,human-society, human-self three aspects of ecological thoughts. The ending of The Falls indicates Oates’s concern about the ecological crisis and the witness of the ecological justice movement. Meanwhile, she also inspires people to uphold justice bravely in the face of ecological crisis. Only by guaranteeing the harmonious coexistence of human and nature, can we achieve social harmony and self-harmony. The ecological interpretation of this work not only can stimulate the readers to pay more attention to the ecological crisis, but also has stronger practical significance for the environmental crisis today.
  
  Key words:    Ecological Crisis; Ecological Justice; Harmonious Ecosystem。
  
  Introduction。
  
  Joyce Carol Oates has been one of the most prolific women writers, dramatists, critics and poets who has won worldwide recognition in contemporary American literature. She uses her extremely skilled writing skills to draw an epic portrait of human beings in the United States since the 1930s. Her works touch on all aspects of American social life in the 20th century and are famous for revealing the problems of American society. There are many popular elements in her works, such as blood, violence, psychopathy and sex. However,behind these fashionable elements, the writer aims at various problems in contemporary American society---sharp opposition and contradiction are formed between individuals and society, self and others, material civilization and spiritual crisis; economic crisis, political crisis and the social unrest and disillusionment are caused by war; people are in the state of helplessness, tension, loneliness, repression, fear, despair and other psychological states. In fact, Carol Oates has established her indisputable position in the contemporary American literary world by virtue of her rich social connotations and her mastery of various genres. She published over one hundred works including more than 50 novels, over 30 short fictions as well as poetry, drama, essays, literary criticism and other popular literature writings. She made her debut on the American literary scene since her work By the North Gate was published in 1963. Her works cover varied and rich subjects and reveal a series of important social issues in America since 20th century. Oates has won numerous prizes and awards for his profound themes and superb writing style, as well as his unique contributions to the American literary scene, such as the 1970 National Book Award for fiction, the O. Henry Awards and the Best American Short Stories etc. She was crowned Prix Femina of France in 2005 and Chicago Tribune Lifetime Achievement Award in 2006 for The Falls. In addition, she has been repeatedly nominated for the Nobel Prize and has been hailed as “the finest American novelist man or woman since Faukner”. Such creativity and explosive power thatOates owns make her to be a miracle in the contemporary American literature even world literature.
  
  In general, before 1970s, Oates just began her literary creation. In 1963, Oates first work By the North Gate was published, which aroused public’s attention immediately. With Shuddering Fall (1964) and Upon The Sweeping Flood (1966 ) have recreated all sorts of small people who have been busy living in order to survive. The trilogy A Garden of Earthly Delights (1967), Expensive People (1968), Them (1969) are usually regarded as Oates’s most complete depiction of American and Americans of different classes. In 1980s, Oates published several novels with feminist tendencies, which also marked the maturity of her literary creation. Solstice (1985), Marya: A Life (1986) and You Must Remember This (1987) are the masterpieces of Oates’s feminist novels. In this period, she had ambitious plans for a five-part series of family novels, family memoirs, gothic romances, detective stories and thrillers to reappear more than 80 years of American great depression. In the 1990s, Oates returned to the theme of realism, continuing to record the pessimistic social reality, represented by Black Water (1992) and What 1 Live For(1994). Since the turn of the 21ST century, Oates has made great achievements and prosperous writing career. The novel Blonde (2000) which is about the life of the American actress Marilyn Monroe, became the national best-seller of that year.
  
  In 2000, We Were the Mulvaneys was selected by the Oprah Book Club to be No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller List. In 2005, the novel The Falls brought Oates to the Prix Femina Etranger and New York Times Notable Books of the Year.
  
  Published in 2004, The Falls is a masterpiece, probably Oates’s best. Setting against the mysterious historical backdrop of the Niagara Falls, the story takes place from the early 1950s to the late 1970s and consists of four parts: the honeymoon, marriage, family and the end. The writer interweaves the fictional love story with the realistic legal cases, the family crisis with the historical moment in the novel. The heroine, Ariah Erskine, the daughter of a Presbyterian priest, who is a plain-looking and almost stereotypical 29-year-old virgin, is married to a loveless husband by the parents of both. Her husband, Gilbert, is a devout priest who has homosexual orientation. On the wedding night, within 24 hours of his marriage, Gilbert throws himself into the churning, roaring, hypnotic waters of Niagara Falls. As soon as Ariah wakes up, she becomes the so called “the Widow-Bride of the Falls”. Refusing to believe what has happened to her, she begins a seven-day vigil in the mist, waiting for her husband’s body to be found. Later on, she encounters a handsome and wealthy lawyer named Dirk Burnaby, who helps her with the case. After that, Ariah falls in love with Dirk, marries him,and gives birth to three children. A few years later, however, Dirk takes over the pollution case called “Love Canal”, offending the local interest groups and ultimately is murdered.
  
  Again Ariah loses her husband and becomes widow again. After that, Ariah moves away from the falls, living in seclusion, and raises three children by herself on the meager income of a piano professor. Growing up, the three children are constantly learning about the family’s secrets, increasing their understanding of their mother, and make inquiries into Dirk Burnaby’s death. Finally, after a lapse of 12 years, Dirk is eventually rehabilitated. The novel includes love, history, reincarnation of fate, the relationships between human and nature,human and society, human and self etc. In The Falls Oates not only reveals the destruction of human nature, but also tells about the relationship between people in the ecological context.
  
  In a word, the novel not only expresses the writer’s concern for nature, fate, life and death, but also permeates her love and awe towards nature. She also reflects on ecological injustice and promotes ecological justice. The book was highly praised by critics after its publication.
  
  The novel was praised by Kirkus Reviews as “It’s her best ever 一 and a masterpiece”. Book Page, which is a national review publication of America stated, “Powerful, compassionate and ruefully humorous, The Falls is another example of Oates’s inexhaustible brilliance”. Publishers Weekly remarked The Falls as, “The Falls is Oates at her best”.
  
  Ecological ethics (also known as environmental ethics) emphasizes the ethical human-nature relationship and human-society relationship in the ecological environment. The development of western ecological ethics can be divided into three stages. From the second half of the 19th century to the beginning of the 20th century, it was the breeding stage of western ecological ethics. During this period, with the vigorous development of modern industry, more and more forest resources and wildlife resources in many western countries have been seriously damaged, meanwhile serious air pollution and water pollution haveoccurred in industrial cities. In this case, many people of insight spontaneously organized and began to re-examine the relationship between human and nature, and initiated the first western Environmental Movement, and wrote the original works of ecological ethics. Man and Nature (1864) by American scholar George Perkins Marsh, Evolution and Ethics (1893) by British scholar Thomas Henry Huxley, and other works, are the representative works of ecological ethics in this period. Although the content of these works is relatively simple and the basic viewpoints have not been developed, they have actually become the logical starting point and theoretical source for the development of anthropocentrism ecological ethics.
  
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  Chapter One Imbalanced Human-Nature Relationship

  
  A. Conflicts between Nature and Industrialization
  B. Contradictions between Human Health and Economic Benefits
  
  Chapter Two Deteriorated Human-Society Relationship
  
  A. Inequality between Men and Women
  B. Alienated Relationship between Humans
  
  Chapter Three Distorted Human-Self Relationship
  
  A. Self-Isolation of Human Beings
  B. Distortion of Human Nature
  C. Mechanization of Human Nature
  
  Chapter Four Pursuit of Ecological Justice
  
  A. Nina’s Struggle for Ecological Justice
  B. Dirk’s Struggle for Ecological Justice
  C. The Re-instated “Love Canal” Lawsuit

  Conclusion

  The Falls is a classic work of Oates’s comprehensive and profound thinking on the relationship between human and nature, human and society, human and self in its profound ecological significance. The book demonstrates her deep concerns for harmonious coexistence of human and nature, and is sprinkled with her ecological wisdom. In Oates’s eyes, everything is interwoven in the “web of being” and dependent upon each other. These three relationships are also in a state of interact. If human-nature relationship is out of balance, human-society relationship and human-self relationship will be unavoidably impacted and distorted, then the whole ecosystem will be deteriorated.

  According to Oates, disharmonious relationships between human and nature are always coordinate with imbalanced social relationships. Industrialization also makes human beings commercially conscious, forcing people to pursue money and material comforts to the greatest extent, ignoring precious emotions among family members, loved ones and friends.

  In the industrial society the relationships between human beings are distorted, where the interests of a small part of privileged people are obtained at the expense of those of a large number of ordinary people. To maintain the special rights of upper class, corruption has become the ethos of political system. Kindness and sympathy are absent, which results in imbalanced relationships between man and woman, and the alienated relationships among family members and outside the family. Oates also believes the invasion of modern industrial civilization has made people lose their vitality in spirituality, and smashed human being’s wholeness. The novel expresses her ecocentrism and the theme of ecological justice through the struggle of those who pursue ecological justice. Ecological environment is a necessary condition for survival, and protecting human life and health is the foundation of a good ecological environment. Only by abiding by the ecological law, resisting the activities that are not conducive to the environment and stopping all behaviors that damage the ecology can we truly realize the ecological justice.

  While Oates focuses on the portrayal of environmental degradation, she remains optimistic about the future. For she finds human beings are becoming more and more aware of the growing environmental crisis and have taken some measures to deal with it, considering turning from conquering nature to living in harmony with nature. Only by living in harmony with nature can man save himself from the relentless competition, the mechanical progress and the weakening of individual vitality brought about by industrial civilization.

  Studying The Falls from the perspective of ecology has a big influence on how humans understand themselves and reconsider their way of life. Nowadays, in the face of ecological crisis, people should learn and explore the profound significance of Oates’s works and cultivate her ecological philosophy and ecological consciousness from her work, attach importance to the building of harmonious human-nature relationship, human-society relationship and human-self relationship. The ultimate goal is to build a harmonious ecosystem for mankind in the new century. In this sense, the ecological study of Oates definitely has a realistic profound significance.

  Notes

  Bibliography
  

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