The overthrow of Pedro II of Brazil: An explanation as provided by an examination of some contemporary novels

Smith, Ewan Dale (1986) The overthrow of Pedro II of Brazil: An explanation as provided by an examination of some contemporary novels. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Traditional explanations for the overthrow of the monarchy in Brazil, and its replacement by a Republic, have never seemed entirely satisfactory. Some, indeed, have seemed contradicted by both the expectation and the experience of the Republic. I have, therefore, attempted to find additional evidence from non-traditional historical sources, namely, the novels of the 20-year span preceding the toppling of Pedro II. To begin, I considered the legitimacy of using fiction as a source for explaining political fact, and was convinced that this principle behind the thesis was sound. I next examined the "traditional" explanations with two purposes in mind; firstly, to see if individually or in concert they provided grounds for what was outwardly a radical change in political direction, and, secondly, to illustrate the historical context in which authors were writing, to highlight the "burning issues" of their societies. Then I made a more particular review of the literary context in which they operated. Subsequently, I examined six authors and fifteen of their novels; the authors were selected on the basis of their contemporary literary popularity and critical acclaim, and were equally divided between the early 1870s and the late 1880s; the novels were selected with regard to their date of publication. My objective was to consider the themes to which each novel addressed itself, with a view to identifying which themes were common to which authors, how the themes differed between authors and over time, and to determine what conclusions could be drawn from this evidence. In the broadest terms what this examination revealed was that far from being radical, the establishment of a Republican system of government was made possible by a widespread desire within the elite group to forestall and limit social change. Authors represented this desire in an increasingly critical account of the values they perceived in their contemporary society, and the existing order was held implicitly, and often explicitly, to blame for the deterioration. But although the 1880s group differed from their predecessors, they struck no accord amongst themselves either; so while they wished change, it was couched in terms of opposition to the existing order without a coherent alternative being expounded. Further, the later group tend to display anti-social behaviour as fundamental to human-kind whereas the 1870s group saw it more as aberrant and peculiar to individuals. In short, the desire for political change stemmed from a wish to halt the deterioration in society's values (in the authors' perception) and the form that change was to take was determined by the perceived need for control of people rather than exhortations to individuals. A new and firmer order was required than Pedro II seemed able or willing to dictate.

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: Latin American literature, Latin American history, Latin American studies
Date of Award: 1986
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1986-76589
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Nov 2019 14:05
Last Modified: 19 Nov 2019 14:05

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