ABSTRACT

This chapter attempts to evaluate the flood of fiction for children which were written during the nineteenth century with the intention of conveying moral instruction. It makes a picture to paint clearer for the reader and outlines the critical and the methodological problems of such attempt. The chapter explores the notion of moral education by considering the explicit and the implicit direction of the reader in these stories, and the way in which moral intention and narrative interact. In the analysis of the formal patterns, there are several critical devices to be of use. It is tempting to reach for a structuralist analysis of this kind of material, since structuralist theory is particularly appropriate to 'infantile or popular literatures, including recent forms like melodrama and the serial novel' in that it offers ways to deal with large masses of material whose main interest is not a matter of the individual author's creative originality.