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Rebelling against the Tragic Plot: The Novels of Frances Burney

Tam, Octavia Yee-Kei (2017) Rebelling against the Tragic Plot: The Novels of Frances Burney. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This dissertation contributes to studies of Frances Burney’s prose fiction, by establishing the importance of the combined influence of theatrical models and Samuel Richardson’s Clarissa in shaping Burney’s novels. Reading the collection of novels by Burney as a rebellion against the tragic plot into which the acclaimed heroine of Richardson’s second novel is ensnared, it argues that Burney’s works blend together dramatic and novelistic conventions to produce narratives with ambivalently successful conclusions. It shows, through analyses of all four of Burney’s novels, that the author positions turning points with sentimental crises and peculiar circumstances within the narratives as dramatic climaxes which allow the heroines temporarily to overlook conventional social expectations of women to make important decisions to help them make positive changes in their lives before they resign control once again. In allowing female characters these small freedoms to act for themselves, I argue that there is an underlying message in Burney’s fiction that it is necessary for women to become more assertive in order to gain more conscious control of their destiny. The main thesis of my work is that it is with incremental adjustments in female conduct, and with the blending of the comic and tragic forms, that Burney’s fiction dramatizes the ways in which women make the most of their circumstances and resources to find peace, if not happiness, in a dignified manner in a society which restricts their freedom of choice and expression.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.745722
Depositing User: Dr. Octavia Yee-Kei Tam
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2018 09:12
Last Modified: 24 Jul 2018 15:24
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/20053

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