Formal Devices as Coping Mechanisms

Jenefer Robinson

in Deeper than Reason

Published in print April 2005 | ISBN: 9780199263653
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603211 | DOI:
Formal Devices as Coping Mechanisms

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Formal devices are the means by which a literary work guides and manages our emotional experience of the work. It is suggested that formal devices in literature play the role of coping mechanisms as described by the psychologist Richard Lazarus. In particular, formal devices help us to cope with difficult or painful material, such as we encounter in The Reef, in Matthew Arnold's Dover Beach, and in Shakespeare's Sonnet ‘That time of year thou mayst in me behold’. Using these examples, different modes of coping are illustrated, from ‘distancing oneself’ intellectually from the difficult material to confronting and coming to terms with it.

Keywords: literature; novel; Richard Lazarus; distancing; confronting; Shakespeare; Matthew Arnold

Chapter.  13370 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Aesthetics and Philosophy of Art

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