ジェイン・オースティンの語りの技法 : 『説得』における感情表現，身体性と演劇性 <特集 : イギリス文学と感情の修辞学>
Jane Austen’s Narrative Techniques: Dramatic Representations of Physical Reactions and Feelings of Characters in Persuasion <English Literature and the Rhetoric of Emotion>
The present essay examines how in her last completed novel, Persuasion, Jane Austen deliberately uses dramatic representations of physical reactions and feelings of characters not only to effectively express their feelings, but also to manipulate the reader’s feelings toward them. This essay also considers how this novel presents the question of feelings which had drawn much attention of writers and readers in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth
One of the main themes of Persuasion is the power of feelings, with its focus on the feelings of Anne Elliot, the second daughter of a baronet. Subsequent to an unexpected reunion, she and Frederick Wentworth, her former fiancé, gradually form a new relationship, influenced by their shared memories and emotions which they keep hidden inside. Throughout this process, Anne changes from a silent observer into an active performer.
Anne always tries to read Wentworth’s feelings. Her complex and irrepressible emotions toward him are often represented as physical reactions aroused and heightened in blushing, nervous excitement and agitation. At the turning points in the development of the story, Austen presents with dramatic and comic effects Anne’s inner conflicts, the change in the physical and psychological distance between Anne and Wentworth, her relationship with those around her, and the essential nature of upper class British society.
Through such representations, Austen shows how precious the power of the “warmth of heart”, including passion, and the happiness it brings are, while raising a question as to the ambiguity of strong feelings. It should be noted that Austen indicates that the issue of feelings is gender-related as women’s feelings are to “prey upon them” due to their social position, and neither men nor women can be free from bias inherent in their own sex. It is also worth noting that the “elasticity of mind,” which Anne found in Mrs. Smith, is suggested as the quality to be acquired by Anne herself through their mutual influence, at the end of the story. Though her friends worry that she will suffer especially as a wife of a naval officer because of her tenderness, this quality will actually help Anne to live in an uncertain future. Taking the position that we should not allow examples in books to be the proofs for establishing a general theory about feelings, Austen encourages readers to realize their own prejudices and become aware of the difficulty and complexity of the question of feelings.