Surprise in Emma
|上傳時間: ||2018-08-06 18:09:31 (UTC+8)|
此二因素造成《艾瑪》中的驚訝長期缺乏討論與研究，然而，筆者認為《艾瑪》中的驚訝蘊藏著許多重要訊息，值得吾人細心探索。透過克里斯多佛‧米勒的書—Surprise: The Poetics of the Unexpected from Milton to Austen (2015) 可知，作家在文學作品中對驚訝的描述能夠反映他們獨特的文學表現手法及價值觀。因此，筆者認為驚訝不應只被視為一個常見的文學手法或是無意義的反射動作，透過分析《艾瑪》中的驚訝，讀者能更清楚地明白角色的性格、情緒以及階級衝突。另外，驚訝能幫助我們更了解奧斯汀對禮儀和日常生活的看法。
Emma is commonly believed to be a novel that has nothing to do with surprise. Surprise, however extraordinary it may seem, is actually a common literary device frequently used by authors in various literary genres. Given its near-universal presence in literary works, surprise does not present itself readily as a useful lens through which we can analyze a novel critically. Hence few Austen scholars notice its significance in Emma. Surprise in Emma fails to garner scholarly attention also because it is not represented in a noticeably sensational fashion as in the gothic novels that Austen was familiar with. While gothic novels are famous for their depiction of surprising events, Emma is known for its delicate portrayal of a serene and orderly English society. On the face of it, daily life and manners in the early 19th century England become two major concerns in this novel. Compared to these two dominant concerns, surprise appears at best a peripheral, at worst an irrelevant, issue.
However, I find surprising events everywhere in the world of Emma. Having read the rich discussion of the issue of surprise in Christopher R. Miller’s recent book, Surprise: The Poetics of the Unexpected from Milton to Austen (2015), I observe the possibility to discuss Emma in a new light. Surprise, far from being merely a common literary device or a brainless reflex, is a significant emotion that leads us to scenes of true emotion, self-revelation and class conflicts in the novel. What is more, I claim that surprise helps us better understand two of Austen’s major concerns—manners and the everyday.
This dissertation aims to explore the value of surprise in Emma. First, I examine how the characters’ bodily responses toward surprise reveal their social and moral attitudes. Moreover, their surprises are closely related to behavior that Austen deems as flawed or bad manners. Second, I draw on several potentially sensational incidents in the novel to show how Austen deliberately deflates the disruptive power of surprise in her narration. Her calm and matter-of-fact depiction of surprising scenes reveals her allegiance to the everyday. Finally, though Austen appears determined to deflate surprise in her narration, I observe that, by illustrating Mr. Woodhouse’s unceasing fear of surprise, she actually recognizes surprise’s ubiquitous presence in everyday life.
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