Free indirect speech in the work of jane austen : the previously unappreciated extent and complexity of austen's free indirect speech and its development from eighteenth century fiction

Shimazaki, Hatsuyo.   University of Southampton (United Kingdom) ProQuest Dissertations Publishing,  2015. 10094725.

Abstract (summary)

This thesis investigates Free Indirect Discourse for speech presentations [FIS] in the work of Jane Austen, and presents the discovery that it is a substantial feature of her narrative style, unexpectedly versatile, performing various functions and effects, ranging from the basic to the sophisticated. Critics have often discussed the primary function of Free Indirect Discourse for both speech and thought presentations [FID] as a means of merging the voices of the narrator and a character. They have focused especially on Free Indirect Discourse for thought presentations [FIT] as an important vehicle for presenting the heroine’s subjective ideas within the narrative. A primary function of FIS identified by previous critics is, on the other hand, the narrator’s mimicry of a character’s speech, owing to the gap in the dual perspectives of the narrator and a character. I have made a strict distinction between FIS and FIT and conduct a full survey of Austen’s FIS with a stylistic approach, which demonstrates that Austen’s FIS is not limited to the basic functions formerly discussed. I propose that it serves at least eleven functions, both satirical and non-satirical. I have given names to these functions, for example, FIS for ‘Formal Politeness’, ‘Condensed Conversations’, ‘Voices in Harmony’ and ‘Filtering Information’. The narrator in Austen’s novels sometimes restrains her subjective view and exists as a transparent mediator to present a character’s speech, as in modernist novels. Austen uses these different functions of FIS in specific episodes to silently guide the reader’s interpretation. On a larger scale, Austen uses the embedded nature of FIS in contrast with FIT or Direct Thought in the foreground, which is similar to the painter’s technique of using ‘light and shade’ to create perspective. As a case study, I have analysed Austen’s technique of FIS for ‘Concealment of Plot Development’ in Emma. As part of my survey, I also revise the origin of Austen’s FID. Critics have presumed that Austen must have discovered FID in the work of immediate precursors, particularly Frances Burney. It is true that the writers of the late eighteenth century sporadically used FIT. However, in respect of FIS, I argue that its origin can be traced back to the early eighteenth century, and changes in punctuation marks for speech in English typesetting. Proto-FIS and FIS occasionally appear in the work of major writers of the eighteenth century, such as Samuel Richardson, Joseph Fielding, Laurence Sterne, and Mary Wollstonecraft. Austen may have gained ideas about FIS from the limited usage in their works. However, while FIT became a feature of the fiction of some writers, such as Charlotte Smith and Ann Radcliffe in the 1790s, FIS was rarely used in this period. Austen excavated the proto-style and developed it with remarkable speed. Austen is not just the first writer who employed FIS in a substantial way, but a brilliant exponent of the technique.

Indexing (details)

Identifier / keyword
(UMI)AAI10094725; Social sciences
Free indirect speech in the work of jane austen : the previously unappreciated extent and complexity of austen's free indirect speech and its development from eighteenth century fiction
Shimazaki, Hatsuyo
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DAI-C 74/10, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
University of Southampton (United Kingdom)
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Dissertation or Thesis
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Bibliographic data provided by EThOS, the British Library’s UK thesis service: https://ethos.bl.uk/OrderDetails.do?uin=uk.bl.ethos.675166
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Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
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