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canongate_paper - 1 October 2007 Professor Rangarajan ENG...

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1 October 2007 Professor Rangarajan ENG 4038 Stories of Mrs. Baliol Bethune written by, Chrystal Croftangry “This is the path to heaven”(13). Walter Scott begins Chronicles of the Canongate with this inscription placed on the “armorial bearings” of the Canongate inside of Scotland (13). The Canongate serves as a place for people to seek sanctuary from personal economic struggles in Scotland. However, the Canongate also serves as a framework to encapsulate the novel and its spatial organization within different literal and figurative gates. Scott uses the Canongate as a literary device to supply a framework for the novel and the characters within the novel. As the novel is entitled Chronicles of the Canongate , the use of gates such as the literal Canongate for sanctuary or the figurative use of stories or narratives functioning as gates into other people’s lives is introduced in the first passage of the novel. The narrator, Chrystal Croftangry’s account falls into various layers of “gates” that serve different functions in his writerly aspirations. Croftangry associates himself with the Canongate and its literal sanctuary from economic struggles and he associates the Canongate’s inscription with his own writing as “a path to heaven” or a path away from his hardships. “I may therefore, with some propriety, put the same motto at the head of the literary undertaking by which I hope to illustrate the hitherto undistinguished name of Crystal Croftangry” (13). The motto on the Canongate is a “gate” or vehicle into the understanding of Chrystal Croftangry’s writerly aspirations. Croftangry seeks a “path to heaven” from his own 1
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hardships and for this reason Croftangry writes about the life and experiences of Mrs. Bethune Baliol. Croftangry uses Mrs. Baliol’s life as a gate to the relinquishment of his own past and path in life. This gate into other people’s lives through Croftangry’s writing provides solace for him and gives him a purpose. The life, times, and habitats of Mrs. Baliol are crucial to the understanding of Chrystal Croftangry and his writing.
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