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The differences between Emma By Jane Austen and The History of Mary Prince By Mary


The differences between Emma by Jane Austen, a classical novel, and the

autobiographical slave narrative, The History of Mary Prince are many and varied, but

what stood out in my mind most prominently was the difference in character development.

The novel delved very deeply into the life, character, breeding, make-up, and personality

of it’s subjects, but the narrative, instead, developed Prince in breadth, not depth. While

each approach gave the reader insight into the respective lead characters, one came away

with a better understanding of who Emma was and why.

A novel is a long work of written fiction. Most novels involve many characters

and tell a complex story by positioning the characters in a number of different situations.

A novels chief interest is in the human character as it manifests in society. The individual

naming of the characters in a novel gives singularity to each person. Novels tend to be

richly detailed and often have an exhaustive analysis of human relationships. In a novel,

the writer has the freedom to develop the plot, characters, motifs, and theme slowly. The

novelist can also circle the main plot with subplots that flesh out the tale. Furthermore,

novels have numerous shifts in time, place, and focus of interest. Because a novel is a

concentrated segment of life, the ending is usually drawn to a pre-designed conclusion.

A narrative is the autobiography of one’s life experiences and views. It is usually

written in the first person point of view and records a long and complicated journey from

one’s life experiences. Many narratives are documents of propaganda, which have a clear

sense of their audience. The question of identity is often central to the genre in narratives,


as many are quests for identity. In many female slave narratives, motherhood tends to be a

central theme. Ultimately, narratives elicit sympathy and empathy from their audience and

are written to win approval of different actions.

I feel that the major differences between a novel and a narrative are characteristic

detail and development and the level of interactions between characters. Furthermore, a

novel is a fictional piece of writing which is created by the author, who uses imagination

and past life experiences of their life to make the story. In contrast, a narrative is a one

dimensional autobiography which is created by the narrator who shares their own personal

life story with the reader.

After a close-reading of each text, I found both writings to be very different from
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