“Then it's a lie, of course”: Lying, Secrecy, and Deceit within Selected Works of Horatio Alger, Jr.

dc.contributor.advisor Renfroe, Alicia
dc.contributor.author Ettehadieh, Brandi Williamson
dc.contributor.committeemember Ostrowski, Carl
dc.contributor.committeemember Lavery, David
dc.contributor.department English en_US
dc.date.accessioned 2016-12-21T20:24:42Z
dc.date.available 2016-12-21T20:24:42Z
dc.date.issued 2016-07-14
dc.description.abstract This dissertation examines scenes of deceit in selected Horatio Alger, Jr. texts and explores parallels to Alger’s complicated biography. For decades, readers and scholars alike believed that Alger’s biography mirrored the lives of his protagonists who exemplified the virtues of honesty and hard work. An initial assessment of Alger’s novels suggests that he regularly repeated the same formulaic rags-to-riches plot; however, a closer look at his stories reveals that his protagonists often benefit from good luck and rely on deception as they play a variety of roles on the path to success and middle class respectability.
dc.description.abstract Alongside Gary Scharnhorst’s enlightening Alger biography, The Lost Life of Horatio Alger (1985), the major texts examined in this study are Ragged Dick: Or, Street Life in New York with the Boot-blacks (1868), its sequel Fame and Fortune: Or, The Progress of Richard Hunter (1868), Helen Ford (1866), Tattered Tom; Or, The Story of a Street Arab (1871), A Fancy of Hers (1892), and The Disagreeable Woman: A Social Mystery (1895). A close analysis of these novels reveals multiple scenes of deceit—an area often neglected in studies of nineteenth-century American literature that tend to focus on adult con men and women. Also, an analysis of Alger’s little-known novels with female protagonists foregrounds his complicated representation of gender and performance. This project argues that deception plays an integral, often ignored, role in Alger’s formula for success and reveals much about the social context of America during the latter half of the nineteenth century.
dc.description.degree Ph.D.
dc.identifier.uri http://jewlscholar.mtsu.edu/handle/mtsu/5131
dc.publisher Middle Tennessee State University
dc.subject Alger
dc.subject American Dream
dc.subject Gender
dc.subject Performance
dc.subject Ragged Dick
dc.subject Women
dc.subject.umi English literature
dc.subject.umi Literature
dc.subject.umi Gender studies
dc.thesis.degreegrantor Middle Tennessee State University
dc.thesis.degreelevel Doctoral
dc.title “Then it's a lie, of course”: Lying, Secrecy, and Deceit within Selected Works of Horatio Alger, Jr.
dc.type Dissertation
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