Die verhouding tussen verhaal en metafoor in Agaat (Marlene van Niekerk)
Venter, Hester Elzebet
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The novel Agaat by Marlene van Niekerk is a highly complex text. One of the most compelling aspects of the novel is the way in which the author constructs an underlying metaphorical grid which determines the composition of the novel. The motives in the novel cannot be regarded merely as motives because specific prominent and powerful metaphors are continually exploited by variation and extension. The complicated relationship between narrative and metaphor on different levels is of great importance in the interpretation of the novel. Due to the complexity of the text, the dominant metaphors cannot be analyzed in the traditional manner. In this study I want to demonstrate that conceptual blending theory, which can be regarded as a branch of conceptual metaphor theory, offers a theoretical framework that can be used to understand the underlying cognitive functioning of the interaction between author, text and reader. This dissertation will examine the processes of blending shaped from the mottos posted at the beginning of the novel. The three mottos, the music motto, the embroidery motto and the farming motto, act throughout the novel as a backdrop against which events in the novel can be interpreted. The blending formed from these mottos merge with other metaphors in the novel in order to generate meaning. The three mottos were taken from the introductions of the FAKVolksangbundel, the embroidery book Borduur so and the Hulpboek vir boere in Suid-Afrika. The three books are used by Milla to educate and teach Agaat. She uses the books to "create" Agaat and to mould her into the person that Milla wants her to be. The mottos stress the uplifting of the people and the creation of a true Afrikaner identity. Agaat accomplishes everything that the books require of her, she becomes an expert in the areas that determine the Afrikaner identity. However, as a brown woman, she is still not considered a member of community or as a fully acceptable civilized woman. The meanings of the other important metaphor in the novel, the mirror metaphor, are also investigated extensively. The mirror plays an important role in the relationship between Milla and Agaat. The mirror is also important in Milla's confrontation with herself, especially in her experience of her illness and her acceptance of her imminent death. The mirror is also used in the depiction of the relationship between characters and the experience of each other as the "Other". The blending of the mirror metaphor and the link that can be established with the theories of Lacan are part of one of the main blendings formed from the mirror metaphor. This metaphor also interacts with the embroidery metaphor. The mirror reflects images to the characters and via the characters to the readers which enforce moral judgments about perceptions and practices. The final part of the dissertation analyses how the dominant metaphors, namely music, embroidery, farming and the mirror, blend in multiple ways in the text to create new domains of meaning. The four main metaphors also blend with secondary metaphors in the novel in order to generate meaning. One of the important secondary metaphors is the "waterhondjies". The "waterhondjies" blend with Guido Gezelle's poem "Het Schrijverke". There is also emphasis on the relationship between writing and the "waterhondjies". The blending of the caeser butterfly plays an important role in the novel as well. In the final chapter the statement is made that the metaphors and symbols in Agaat cannot merely be regarded and interpreted as traditional motives, but rather as examples of cognitive blending. The types of blending in the novel require the cooperation of the reader in all cases. The reader must, in some cases, as with the mirror metaphor and the metaphor of the "waterhondjies", identify and activate the second domain of the blend. In the case of the mottos the different domains of the blend are activated by the author and the reader only needs to provide an interpretation. At the end of the dissertation the conclusion is made that the blending theory offers a suitable method and terminology to analyze the complex processes of generating meaning in the novel.
- Humanities