Neil and Christy: A Pastoral Romance

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     Pastoral elements in Christy extend to every aspect of the narrative: an Arcadian natural setting, facilitating and blocking characters, a plot leading to a progressive romantic resolution, a theme of awakening, rustic, natural imagery and symbols that foreshadow the union of the hero and heroine.

     A pastoral theme represents a withdrawal from a society to a place close to nature, where the protagonist achieves a new perspective on life. Pastoral literature idealizes the simpler, rustic life over the complex, artificial society left behind. A romantic plot is centered around a love affair that has to overcome all difficulties to end in a happy union. A very specialized type of romance is a Shakespearan romantic comedy (as opposed to a tragedy) which according to literary critic M.H. Abrams involves a movement into an Arcadian Green World (the pastoral ideal) in which the problems and injustices of the ordinary world are dissolved, enemies reconciled, and true lovers united.


     By literary convention a pastoral romance ends in a festive conclusion that involves a celebratory social ritual such as a wedding, a feast, or a dance. Blocking characters are overthrown, and the hero and heroine experience a discovery of sorts which involves their recognition of their great love for each other but also can involve a spiritual and/or sexual awakening. And in a pastoral world, nature and true love ultimately reign, and the acheived result reflects the elemental ritual of the triumph of spring over winter.

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