Estrangement between the Father and the Son: Causes and Consequences in Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments

Faten Adi, Mahmoud Al-Shetawi


This study aims at identifying the nature of father-son estrangement in nineteenth-century British family exemplified in Edmund Gosse’s Father and Son: A Study of Two Temperaments. This study departs from the psychoanalytical perspective and examines father-son estrangement in the light of the concept of patriarchal authority and its socio-cultural implications in the nineteenth-century British society. It also focuses on the impact of evolutionary theories on the Victorian society, in the sense that with the emergence of evolutionary theories all taken-for-granted ideas, authorities such as paternal authority, and institutions are put into question.
The findings show that in Gosse’s novel, the father and the son embody two separate islands; each one adheres to contradictory interests, conflicting principles, and life-choices. While the father tries to refashion his son’s life according to the principles of self-denial, repression, and imposition of a religious vocation, the son is imaginative and skeptical; he pushes against his father’s system of upbringing and adheres to instincts, imagination, and love of literature. The study also finds out that a life based wholly on self-restraint and life-denying religion is not balanced, because one’s desires, instincts, and individual life-choices cannot be eliminated totally.


Father-son estrangement, Paternal authority, Rebellion, Life-denying religion

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