Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


This thesis explores closure in two novels, Henry James's The Ambassadors and James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and two films, His Girl Friday directed by Howard Hawks and Citizen Kane directed by Orson Welles. The specific study of closure in films is necessitated by the almost total absence of research in this area. Although study of closure in prose narratives is historically more extensive, the study of closure in the two novels under discussion has previously been undertaken within narrow parameters. Rather than invoking a rigid model of the closural process, this thesis draws upon a range of approaches to closure to argue for the importance of a set of interrelated issues which can constitute a framework within which the endings of the four chosen works are analyzed. This methodology involves a sensitivity to the ways in which various types of patterns are resolved, but also includes a recognition of the inherently problematic nature of closure. The thesis distinguishes between closure as a process which develops over the course of the work as a whole and the ending as a specific textual segment in which the preponderance of closural 'signals' becomes particularly urgent. The importance of patterns developed over the course of the work and the various means of retrospective patterning used to evoke a strong sense of symmetry will both be investigated. Such concerns are complemented by issues particularly reflective of the problematic aspects of closure such as the tension between formal circularity and the linear, forward momentum of narrative elements.;His Girl Friday's position as the first work to be explored in the thesis reflects the fact that it has the most straightforward closural argument of the four works, contrasting with the more modernist, self-reflexive endings of The Ambassadors, Citizen Kane and, particularly, A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man. While allowing for the distinctive aspects of novels and films, it is hoped that, by examining the closure of narrative fictions in these two media, a sharpened sense of the fundamental issues involving narrative closure will emerge.



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