Seeking (and Finding) Ulysses: Some Positive Ageing Narratives in Recent Fiction and Film
Osborne, P. L. C. (2014). Seeking (and Finding) Ulysses: Some Positive Ageing Narratives in Recent Fiction and Film (Thesis, Master of Arts (MA)). University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8996
Permanent Research Commons link: https://hdl.handle.net/10289/8996
The process of ageing is all too often seen as something to be avoided, feared or even, sadly, ridiculed. We are all familiar with literary and film narratives which portray older persons as either curmudgeons or crones, or personify them as being ugly or ill (Up, Grumpy Old Men, Snow White‟s stepmother in disguise, Red Riding Hood‟s grandmother) – images which often translate to real-life assumptions about older people, and ageist attitudes which are not conducive to individuals ageing well. Commentators within the field of Social Gerontology have noted with concern the dominance of such negative stereotypes, linking them to poor outcomes for real-life older persons. Yet, instinct suggests that we are right to fear such prospects for our own ageing, and this raises the question: „With what can we replace these age-old models of decline and decay?‟ A partial answer to this question can be found in a recent abundance of positive literary and filmic portrayals of older persons leading triumphant, vibrant and adventurous lives. Via a brief survey of some texts and films drawn from the recent past, which includes Joanne Harris‟ novel Chocolat, Helen Simonson‟s Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand, and the films Skyfall and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, this thesis examines some positive fictional portrayals of ageing in the light of contemporary research within the social sciences. Taking as its inspiration the poem „Ulysses‟ by Alfred Lord Tennyson, this thesis is intended to be neither exhaustive nor definitive, and has as its primary motivation the purpose of highlighting key attitudinal and practicable qualities demonstrated within these fictional contexts that are applicable to ageing well in the real world, as indicated within the relevant scholarship.
University of Waikato
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- Masters Degree Theses