Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Most critics of Moodie's work have assumed that her response to emigrating remained a negative one. They generally seem to agree that the reactions she shows herself as experiencing in 1832-33, still hold valid for the woman she was when she published her autobiographical stories. Moreover, it is generally held that Moodie's portrayal of herself is naive.;This thesis suggests that it is actually interesting to see in Moodie a woman who viewed herself as flawed and who portrayed herself as such throughout her four exercises in life writing--"Rachel Wilde" (1847-48), Flora Lyndsay (1854), Roughing It in the Bush (1852) and Life in the Clearings (1853). Drawing upon all four works, as well as upon some of her other writing, the thesis shows that these books may be read as a spiritual, autobiographical account.;Chapter I and II delineate the reasoning behind the view that Moodie's works may be read primarily as autobiography. The first chapter addresses the problem of whether "Rachel Wilde" and Flora Lyndsay --both published as fiction-- can reasonably be read this way and, having determined that they can, goes on to discuss the secular impetus behind life writing. Chapter II lays out the typical form and content of spiritual autobiography and shows that Moodie's works fit the pattern in many ways. Chapter III examines the early blessings bestowed upon the protagonist and shows that, despite these blessings, the protagonist suffers from several types of error which must be overcome. Chapter IV adds weight to the argument by suggesting that the emigrant guidebooks of Moodie's sister, Catherine Traill, bolster the reasoning of Chapter III. Chapter V suggests that in Volume II of Roughing It in the Bush Moodie shows herself to have overcome her errors, while the final chapter suggests that Life in the Clearings shows Moodie preaching the "gospel" to which she has been converted through her own trials. Finally, the afterword addresses the rather narrow focus through which criticism has viewed Moodie's writing and suggests that, in light of the argument of the thesis, this focus may be inadequate.



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