Partial Answers - Homepage Journal of Literature and The History of Ideas The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
 Publications

 Volume 17/1, includes forum "Narrative Selves"
 January 2019

 Volume 16/2, includes forum on Monika Fludernik's Towards a 'Natural' Narratology
 June 2018

 Volume 16/1 includes forum "Modernity and Mobility: Victorian Women Traveling"
 January 2018

 Volume 15/2
 June 2017

 Volume 15/1: includes forum "Audionarratology"
 January 2017

 Volume 14/2: includes forum "Modern Jewish Spaces"
 June 2016

 Volume 14/1: includes forum "Saul Bellow as a Novelist of Ideas"
 January 2016

 Volume 13/2: includes forum "Comics and the Canon"
 June 2015

 Volume 13/1: includes forum "TheGhetto as a Victorian Text"
 January 2015

 Volume 12/2: includes forum "The Novel and Theories of Love"
 June 2014

 Volume 12/1
 January 2014

 Volume 11/2: includes forum "Translating Philip Roth"
 June 2013

 Volume 11/1
 January 2013

 Volume 10/2: includes forum "Bildung and the State"
 June 2012

 Volume 10/1: includes forum "Fernando Pessoa and the Issue of Heteronymy
 January 2012

 Volume 9/2: Dickens: Uneasy Pleasures
 June 2011

 Volume 9/1
 January 2011

 Volume 8/2: British Women Writers
 June 2010

 Volume 8/1 includes forum "The Ethics of Temporality"
 January 2010

 Volume 7/2: Eyewitness Narratives
 June 2009

 Volume 7/1
 January 2009

 Volume 6/2: Narrative Knowing, Living, Telling
 June 2008

 Volume 6/1
 January 2008

 Volume 5/2
 June 2007

 Volume 5/1
 January 2007

 Volume 4/2: Narrative as a Way of Thinking
 June 2006

 Volume 4/1
 January 2006

 Volume 3/2
 June 2005

 Volume 3/1
 January 2005

 Volume 2/2
 June 2004

 Volume 2/1
 January 2004

 Volume 1/2
 June 2003

 Volume 1/1
 January 2003

 Quick Article Search

   Newest Articles

 Railway Crossings
 Kathryn W. Powell

 Written in the Stars? Women Travellers and Forgers of Destinies in Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries
 Barbara Franchi

 Sea Travel and Femininity in Gail Jones’ Sixty Lights
 Daný van Dam

 Then and Now
 Murray Baumgarten

 Modernity and Mobility
 Murray Baumgarten and Barbara Franchi

 Samuel Beckett’s Invention of Nothing
 Jacob Hovind

 The Jewish Petenera
 Einat Davidi

 The Sound of Translation
 Alexander Ullman

Get Adobe Reader

Updated Up To 23/01/2018
Volume 8, Issue 2 (June 2010) : 277--304
Conversations as Signifiers
Characters on the Margins of Morality in the First Three Novels of Frances Burney
Christina Davidson
Rubric A: Literature and Ethics

Abstract

 

This paper shows that Frances Burney used language and interaction features in the dialogue of her novels to indicate the moral worth of some of her characters. It also shows how Burney’s linking of language and morality allowed her to contribute to stimulating contemporary debates in which three major discourses of the enlightenment intersected: philosophical debates relating to the nature of goodness; consideration of the functions of language, in particular its potential to represent or govern morality; and discussions of the efficacy of spoken language in conversational contexts. 

In Frances Burney’s novels the criteria by which people should be judged are not so much social as moral, and her heroines are located in ethical spaces where predatory opportunists, pretentious egoists, and violent oppressors are to be recognized and spurned.  But recognition is not always easy, and sometimes polish and rank can mask unsavoury motives. Conduct books rarely tackled the complex issue of detecting pretence; nor did they offer a nuanced understanding of more complicated and therefore more demanding social contexts. Burney’s novels address such omissions, providing narrational schemata for working through diverse situations and relationships, through the various difficulties which the heroines encounter in their educative process. For Burney, speech is the index of morality, offering a reliable code to read an individual’s qualities and principles, beyond background, education, and gender. Making flexible use of modern linguistics, this paper shows how Burney encodes interiority in dialogue to signify moral marginality.

 


 All Rights Reserved to The Hebrew University of Jerusalem- Partial Answers © 2004. Powered By Priza

The Johns Hopkins University Press