Essay about The Use of Free Indirect Discourse in Northanger Abbey

Essay about The Use of Free Indirect Discourse in Northanger Abbey

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The Use of Free Indirect Discourse in Northanger Abbey


"The novel as a whole is a phenomenon multiform in style and variform, in speech and voice. In it the investigator is confronted with several heterogeneous stylistic unities, often located on different linguistic levels and subject to different stylistic controls." p 261

-"Discourse in the Novel", M.M. Bahktin

The novel as a genre, is defined by a multitude of languages and dialects, which, broken down on the various spectrums of type, from proper to colloquial speech, class, and age is essential for the novel to in fact be a genre. Furthermore, the author is a sort of conductor who orchestrates, organizes even, the various languages, dialects, and voices of the novel, thereby creating its characteristic features. One characteristic feature in Austen's Northanger Abbey is the use of free indirect discourse. Free indirect discourse as defined by Stefan Oltean in "A Survey of the Pragmatic and Referential Functions of Free Indirect Discourse" is "a discourse mode used especially in literary narrative for the representation of verbal events and of verbal or nonverbal mental events" (Oltean, 691), however, for the purposes of this essay the definition will be simplified as such: a manner of narration which uses the language or style of a character in order to give editorial comment and reveal the internal dynamics of the character. The narrator obviously has a major role in this function. Through the use of free indirect discourse the narrator determines the distance between the characters, the narrator, and the reader. The narrator, therefore, must be somewhat distant in order to present editorial comment or parody . In Northanger Abbey there is a large amount of th...


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...s important to the novel, dealing predominantly with Catharine's ignorance, the conventions of the Gothic novel, as well as the emphasis on wealth and position in marriage that often preoccupied high society.

Sources Consulted

Anderson, Benedict. "Imagined Communities." New York: Verso, 1991.

Austen, Jane. Northanger Abbey, Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sanditon / c Jane Austen . Ed. James Kinsley and John Davie. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Axelrod, Mark. "The Poetics of Postmoderne Parody in Austen`s Northanger Abbey." The Poetics of Novels. New York: St. Martin`s Press, INC., 1999. Pgs 28-54.

Page, Norman. The Language of Jane Austen. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, INC. 1972.

Oltean, Stefan. "A Survey of the Pragmatic and Referential Functions of Free Indirect Discourse." Poetics Today Vol 14:4 (1993): Pgs 691-713.

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