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Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1932. Department of Secondary Education.


Copyright 1932, the author. Used by permission.


The moral and social situations confronting schools of today involve an educational problem which demands serious consideration. Our interest in this problem is due, perhaps, to the rapid increase in crime, failure of the home, and the apparent inability of the church to provide adequately for moral training.

It is our belief that literature may serve as a means of character training through an indirect approach. The characters and incidents in literature abound with opportunities for reactions, and rightly presented may produce lasting results.

This study has been made to show the frequencies with which character traits and character situations appear in classics commonly used in our high schools through an intensive study of George Eliot’s Silas Marner. This title was chosen, not because it is considered an exceptional work in the development of character, but because it is merely a typical example of the many classics used in high schools which have an abundance of materials that may serve as excellent studies in character development. Many other classics could have been treated in this same manner, some of which are:The little Minister, The Vision of Sir Launfal, Treasure Island, Captain Courageous, The Lady of the Lake, Merchant of Venice,Macbeth, Lord Jim, and yet others.

For this study, all words and situations in the named classic which definitely denote character traits have been selected. We have found 405 words and 254 situations.There are approximately 71, 093 running words in the book.When both words and situations are distributed on the basis of running words, we find an average of 9.2 character contacts per thousand words.

Our purpose in this study has been to present character education as an essential function of the school and to show how the study of literature may be utilized as an activity that will aid pupils in securing knowledge of right and wrong conduct.

Advisor: H. C. Koch