From “the Other” towards “the Subject” ---A Study of Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime College

From “the Other” towards “the Subject”

---A Study of Evelyn Nesbit in Ragtime


The purpose of this paper is two-fold. I will analyze Evelyn Nesbit’s personalities presented in Ragtime as a recreated character that is not lifted straight from the pages of the history books. With the concept “the Other” coined by French feminist writer Simone de Beauvoir in her book about existentialism, the Second Sex, I would mainly focus on analyzing Nesbit’s struggle and try to prove she eventually changes her position from an “Object” to a “Subject”.

Keywords: Ragtime, Feminist existentialism, Evelyn Nesbit

I. Introduction

Ragtime is a historical fiction written by E. L. Doctorow, and it is featured in the fiction and historical materials combined writing style. With the background set in the period from 1902 to 1912 in New York City and surrounding areas, it presents readers with a decade’s American social costume on the eve of World War I. The novel contains several historical events and celebrities while some of them were still well-known nowadays, such as the financial magnate J. P. Morgan; the “Motor King” Henry Ford and “The Trail of the Century.” Doctorow added three fictional families as the clue as well as the...

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