Stephen Wilhoit, Ph.D.
There are tales that follow us from childhood and into adult life: they take the shape of children’s stories. Within these books there are moral lessons to be learned; often times these lessons are communicated through enchanting characters and strange settings. However, in addition to the morality that can be found in the pages of these texts, I believe there is also a morality surrounding their creation. More specifically, the way their authors approach their writing. By looking at the two works The Complete Adventures of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter and Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll, a relationship between the author’s intentions and the way the moral narrative presents itself in a story comes to light. This is no simple relationship, and this project will prove that the connection between intention and morality easily becomes blurred. However, before this dynamic is revealed arguments by theorists Roland Barthes and E.D. Hirsch, Jr. are presented to first identify what the significance an author brings to their text, if there is any significance at all. A journey filled with rabbits, a world underground, and angry neighbors, it certainly may feel as though we have fallen down a rabbit hole. However, the moral of this particular story eventually becomes apparent: an author who writes their children’s story intentionally lends their text a clearer moral narrative.
This item is protected by copyright law (Title 17, U.S. Code) and may only be used for noncommercial, educational, and scholarly purposes
English Language and Literature
Edwards, Anna, "Intentionally So: Morality in Children’s Literature" (2019). Honors Theses. 208.