Emma: ‘the operation of the same system in another way’
The question of the nature of feminine agency cuts to the core of Austen’s work, but is expressed in a distinctive way in her last two complete narratives, Emma (1816) and Persuasion (1818). We find her late heroines in opposing circumstances: the privileged Emma, who rarely finds her will crossed either by an indulgent and weak father or a loving governess, and whose economic independence makes marriage unnecessary to her; and the already static Anne, whose inert condition at the opening of her narrative of revival is reinforced by the absence of her direct voice. We hear Emma speak early, but Anne is only indirectly registered by the narrator until a passing reference to the navy brings her into the present of the scene: ‘here Anne spoke’.394 The movement of Persuasion turns Anne’s stasis into a revised concept of freedom in its final un-mooring of her character from its ‘landed’ determinants: ‘She gloried in being a sailor’s wife.’395 This contrasts directly with Emma, when this is read as a study in the implications of ungrounded female will.
KeywordsHappy Ending Narrative Fiction Complete Truth Narrative Action Free Indirect Discourse
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.
- 391.Frank Kermode, The Genesis of Secrecy: On the Interpretation of Narrative (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1979), p. 72.Google Scholar
- 400.Ricoeur, Paul, Time and Narrative, vol. 1. (trans.) Kathleen Mclaughlin and David Pellauer (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984), p. 30.Google Scholar
- 405.Susan C. Greenfield, Mothering Daughters: Novels and the Politics of the Family Romance, Frances Burney to Jane Austen (Detroit: Wayne State University, 2002), p. 34.Google Scholar
- 446.Shlomith Rimmon-Kenan, Narrative Fiction: Contemporary Poetics (London: Routledge, 2002), p. 109.Google Scholar
- 455.Roy Pascal, The Dual Voice: Free Indirect Speech and its Functioning in the Nineteenth-century European Novel (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1977.Google Scholar
- 459.Beth Newman, ‘“The Situation of the Looker-on”: gender, narration, and gaze in Wuthering Heights, Robyn’ R. Warhol and Diane Price Herndl (eds), Feminisms: An Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism (New Jersey: Rutgers University Press, 1997), p. 461.Google Scholar
- 481.John Sutherland, Is Heathcliffe a Murderer: Great Puzzles in 19th -century Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996), pp. 16, 18, 19.Google Scholar