The 18th World Congress of Jewish Studies

Analysis of S. Y. Agnon’s Works according to the Structural Method

The plots of S. Agnon`s stories dealing with similar themes are constructed according to a single pattern of plot. For example, the plots of his love stories have much in common. The same applies to his other works dealing with different themes. I will review his love stories: "Agunot", "A Simple Story", "Tehilla" and "Shira". In each work there is a romantic triangle. It concerns a married couple, but the protagonist, who is one of the married pair, is attracted to someone outside the marriage. For the most part, the protagonist is a man who is attracted to another woman but there are also cases where the protagonist is a woman attracted to another man. In all the love stories, the protagonist, his or her spouse and his or her beloved have the same character traits and a similar cultural, social and economic background. Later in the plot in all the stories, the protagonist learns that the object of his or her love has her or his own partner, yet his love does not diminish. In all the stories the emotional process is described that the protagonist experiences when he loses interest in his legal spouse but persists in his extra-marital love relationship. This emotional process leaves him or her frustrated, mourning the betrayal of the object of his or her love. All the works have a pessimistic ending: the protagonists are left uncomfortable and emotionally and mentally unsettled due to dissatisfaction at having an unshared relationship with the object of their love. An analysis of other works by Agnon dealing with other themes reveals the same plot appearing in every work and similar depictions of the protagonists, heroes, and actions. The conclusion that emerges from a study of these works according to the structural method is that Agnon`s literary works are poorer and more limited than it may seem on a first impression. Other stories by Agnon, which deal with different themes, are also depicted according to similar patterns of plot.