Equiano and Style

Olaudah Equiano is an individual who seeks to appeal to the sentiments of his readers. He uses first person narration, and discusses the events that have happened within his life, as if he were recalling the past life in which Equiano lived before becoming enslaved. His story and the details of the plot are very vivid and descriptive.
It is first important to discuss the method Equiano uses in order to narrate his narrative. He tells the story as if he is remembering the past. He first starts his novel by recounting life in Guinea, West Africa before becoming enslaved and traveling to the West Indies. He describes his life before coming to the West Indies and enslavement, as very simple, and it is inferred that Equiano was unaware or unfamiliar with the world outside his community. Even the names and events in the story in which the narrator describes provide credibility. In understanding Equiano’s style, it is important to note the literary techniques in which Ian Watts discusses that are significant to the rise of the novel. For example, Ian Watts’s biggest discussion is on style, and the ways in which the authors of novels discuss topics, whose purpose is to provide a “realistic affect. “For example, Watts notes, “The novel’s plot is also distinguished from most previous fiction by its use of past experience as the cause of present action: a causal connection operating through time replaces the reliance of earlier narratives and disguises and coincident, and this tends to give the novel a much more cohesive structure” (22). This novel is definitely told in time sequenced method, from the beginning before the main character was enslaved to the time he was placed in captivity.
The narrator’s use of word choice and diction is important. The narrator often draws on the sympathy of his readers by appealing to their Christian values. For example, within the beginning of the novel, Equiano states,
“I believe it is difficult for those who publish their own memoirs to escape the imputation of vanity; nor is this the only disadvantage under which they labour; it is also their misfortune, that whatever is uncommon is rarely, if ever, believed; and what is obvious we are apt to turn from with disgust, and to charge the writer with impertinence. People generally think those memoirs only worthy to be read or remembered which abound in great or striking events; those, in short, which in a high degree excite either admiration or pity: all others they consign to contempt and oblivion. It is, therefore, I confess, not a little hazardous, in a private and obscure individual, and a stranger too, thus to solicit the indulgent attention of the public; especially when I own I offer here the history of neither saint, a hero, nor a tyrant…I regard myself as a particular favourite of Heaven, and acknowledge the mercies of Providence in every occurrence of my life…” (31).
Hence, the author seeks to gain credibility among his readers.
The author uses powerful diction to discuss the events within his life. For example, when discussing his life in Guinea, he uses terms such as “admiration,” “pity,” “oblivion” to describe the life he lived before becoming enslaved (31). The author even states, “obscure individual” (31). These terms denote unfamiliarity with the customs outside his neighboring community. When the author describes his being taken captive. He uses terms such as “unknown,” “terror,” “horror,” “astonishment,” “horrible,” when he describes when he was placed on a ship after being enslaved (55). These terms definitely paint a mental picture for readers.
In my opinion, Equiano’s style is worth noting. His use of narration and the diction in which he uses to recount his experiences, definitely create sympathy for readers.

Wollstonecraft and Style

Mary Wollstonecraft’s style in Maria, The Wrongs of Woman, is interesting, as seen in the diction and sentence structure. The language is very formal, and it is as if the author is making a declaration to the audience about the particular situation and circumstances in which individuals of her gender have to undergo. It is interesting how the author discusses the difficulties that certain individuals have to undergo. It is similar to how Watts discusses novel writers. Ian Watts is concerned about the style and how writers describe the circumstances, of the form in which a novel occurs. Watts notes the ways in which novel writers describe the circumstances in which their characters undergo, is enough to shed light to readers about the struggles of the characters. For example, Watts notes, “Here, however, we are concerned with a much more limited conception with the extent to which the analogy with philosophical realism helps to isolate and define the distinctive narrative mode of the novel. This, is has been suggested, is the sum of literary techniques whereby the novel’s imitation of human life follows the procedure adopted by philosophical realism in its attempt to ascertain and report the truth” (31). Hence, it is the ways in which novelists describe situations, or the literary techniques that the writers apply which brings the novel to life, or perhaps appears as if the situations are real. Therefore, style is important. Thus, is the way Wollstonecraft describes her characters experiences that is the reason we come to sympathize with her characters. Also, Watts states the importance of the character’s names. For example, he adds “Characters in previous forms of literature, of course, were usually given proper names; but the kind of names actually used showed that the author was not trying to establish his characters as completely individualized entities. The precepts of classical and renaissance criticism agreed with the practice of their literature in preferring either historical names or type names. In either case, the names set the characters in the context of a larger body of expectations primarily formed from the past literature, rather than from the context of contemporary life.” (18-19).
In the introduction, Moira Ferguson recognizes Wollstonecraft as having a “pivotal position in the history of humanist thought (9). She notes that Ferguson notes that individual of her gender in England in the eighteenth century, were denied or were placed in the situation were they had “No money was theirs by right…if they were heiress…and they married, their money automatically transformed to their husbands” (10). Ferguson even notes, “They were denied child custody,” and these individuals were forbidden to separate from their husbands unless extreme circumstances occurred (10). Ferguson also notes that Maria’s house servant, Jemima is an example of how “women from the lowest social class fared even worse” (10). She notes, “though the novel is incomplete, it is clearly articulated and offers a graphic picture of the wrongs done to women” (10). Ferguson adds, “In Maria she depicts in a fictional setting how the denial of all civil and political rights keeps every class of women from true fulfillment in their day-to-day existence” (10).
The diction or word choice that Wollstonecraft uses is interesting. She uses terms such as, “abodes of horror,” “mansion of despair,” and “scattered thoughts” (23). The sentence structure is complex as well, for example, the author writes, “Abodes of horror have frequently been described…conjured up by the magic spell of genius to harrow the soul, and absorb the wondering mind. But, formed of such stuff as dreams are made of, what were they to the mansion of despair, in one corner of which Maria sat, endeavoring to recall her scattered thoughts” (23). The diction, word choice, and the sentence structure are interesting. All these factors depict the complex situation in which Maria finds herself with “scattered thoughts” as fi she is pondering over some distressing thought.
Therefore, I agree with Watts that form plays a significant role in shaping a novel, in which case we are allowed to see through the powerful use of word choice the distressing situation of the characters in the novel

Jane Austen and Narration

Jane Austen’s style is interesting, as seen in the type of narration found in her novel, Mansfield Park. Jane Austen narrates, as an omniscient narrator. She goes into the feelings and thoughts of each character. For example, when the family assumes that Fanny will live with her aunt, the narrator depicts the thoughts and emotions of Mrs. Norris. For example, Austen writes, “I think, sister, we need not keep Miss Lee any longer, when Fanny goes to live with you?” Mrs. Norris’s almost started. ‘Live with me, dear Lady Bertram, what do you mean? Is not she to live with you?’ I thought you had settled it with Sir Thomas? Me! Never. I never spoke a syllable about it to Sir Thomas, or he to me. Fanny lives with me! The last thing in the world for me to think of or for anybody to wish that really knows us both. Good heaven! What could I do with Fanny? Me! A poor helpless, forlorn widow, unfit for anything, my spirits quite broken down, what could I do with a girl at her time of life, a girl of fifteen? The very age of all others who need most attention and care, and put the cheefullest spirits to the test. Sure, Sir Thomas could not seriously expect such a thing! Sir Thomas is too much my friend. Nobody that wishes me well, I am sure, would propose it. How came Sir Thomas to speak to you about it (28). For here, we see that Fanny is seen as a burden to her family members. We even get into Sir Thomas’s thoughts, as narrated by Jane Austen. For example, the narrator states, when arranging how to acclimate Fanny within the family the narrator goes on to Sir Thomas’s thoughts. The narrator states, “of the younger Fanny Price, the namesake daughter of the impudent Fanny Ward….how for her contextualization will eradicate her expected ‘meanness of opinions’ and ‘vulgarity of manner,’ making her like her cousins the younger Bertram; but how at the same time her unlikeness should be both feared (‘should her disposition be really bad’ (I, I) and maintained (‘how…to make her remember that she is not a Miss Bertram’). (viii). these are the thoughts of Sir Thomas. These are the very insights in which Kathryn Sutherland notes. But the narrator seems to sympathize with Fanny. For example, the narrator seems concerned with what will become of Fanny. The narrator discusses Fanny’s sadness when she first goes to live with her relatives, and Sir Thomas’s family. I t was the concern of Edmund, her cousin, that we, the readers, are able to understand Fanny’s sadness. Edmund inquires to Fanny about her unhappiness.
In Daniel Pollack-Pelzner piece, “Jane Austen, the Prose Shakespeare” the author discusses Jane Austen’s style and her narrative techniques. He states, “Learning to talk in a Jane Austen novel means learning to talk Shakespeare (763). He further states, “In Mansfield Park (1814), Sir Thomas Bertram has his sons learn elocution by reciting “To be or not to be” (763). He further notes, “…discussions of the propriety and sources of speech arise in Mansfield Park, a novel that repeatedly calls our attention to the shifting distinctions among speaking, reading, and acting. Fanny Price “must read the part’ that Miss Crawford requests, for she ‘can say very little of it,’ and of course she ‘cannot act’ whereas Edmund distinguishes a general ability to ‘talk Shakespeare’ or ‘to know him in bits and scraps’ from Crawford’s capacity to ‘read him well aloud’ which reading presents these discussions in narrative discourse that blurs the boundary between novelistic description and stage direction, as in Crawford’s account of poor reading from the pulpit” (764). Therefore, Shakespearean techniques are employed by Austen. The author “…reading this passage to ourselves, we must articulate a speech about speaking that contains three stage directions (a parenthetical gesture, a reference to another character’s unheard speech, and two participial actions): a minperformance in prose.” (764). He states, “this essay shows the connection between acting Austen and talking Shakespeare, between the ethical concerns over speaking another’s words and the narrative strategies that make reading…Mansfield Park a kind of closet drama” He notes, “this essay opens with an alternative history of indirect discourse, often seen as one of Austen’s chief narrative accomplishments, that shows her connection to early nineteenth-century prose version of Shakespeare” (764). He adds, Austen uses, “a third person voice” (765). He states, “Austen heralded as a ‘prose Shakespeare’ by nineteenth century critics, built on these techniques in Mansfield Park…to fuse her characters’ voices with her narrator’s. (765). He adds, “Thus, the style representation is linked to a means for representing Shakespearean prose. Austen’s novels also develop an inverse free indirect discourse, the infusion of the narrative voice into character’s speech, when Austen inserts stage directions into dialogue” (765).
I agree, Austen’s use of “stage direction and dialogue” originally employed by Shakespeare is really seen in Mansfield Park. More specifically, we can really see the thoughts and emotions of each character through the narrative voice. We understand and gain insight into each character’s action.

Jane Austen’s Style-Mansfield Park

Jane Austen’s text, Mansfield Park, depicts the changes in her current nation of the eighteenth century of the changes in politics, and her changes that have occurred to Austen as a writer. Her writing differs from her previous texts, Emma and Persuasion, according to Katheryn Sutherland (vii). Sutherland states, “critics have detected a free spirit of wit and compassionate spontaneity corresponding to their post-Revolutionary origins, Austen’s mature Regency writings appear to strike a more constrained note, sardonic rather than witty, to caution retirement and the wisdom of second thought.” (vii). Hence, Austen may have been reacting to the events of her time period. Also, Sutherland states, “Published in 1814, Mansfield Park inaugurates this change, and while critics and readers embraced what seems both new and familiar in Emma (1815) and Persuasion (1817), they remain suspicious of Mansfield Park. Austen’s most designed and designing novel, its ideological program is oppressive and puzzling, insistent and yet difficult to pin down.” While reading Mansfield Park, I encountered several complexities in style. These were mostly found in diction and sentence structure.
Austen uses formal speech to describe the characters in the story. For example, the narrator when describing Miss Ward, she uses terms such as “captivate Sir Thomas Bertram” when referring to Miss Maria Ward, and “raised to the rank of a baronet’s lady, with all the comforts and consequences.” Even the house is described as “handsome” (5). The language is very complex and formal.
Austen also uses complex sentence structure. For example, in the beginning of the text she writes, “Miss Ward’s match, indeed, when it came to the point, was not contemptible, Sir Thomas being happily able to give his friend an income in living in Mansfield, and Mr. and Mrs. Norris began their career of conjugal felicity with very little less than a thousand a year” (5). This complexity is a signal as Sutherland states, the constraints in which many of the characters found themselves in (where as family was a system of stability, yet “constraint” (Sutherland, viii).). According to Sutherland, “In Mansfield Park family functions in largely negative and ironic terms: as both constrictive space, hampering the desires of its members, and as that which is defined in its absence as the only foundation of individual identity.” More specifically, while family is seen to bring stability, for the characters in the text, this system functions as preventing the characters in the novel from achieving their desired outcomes. Chapter One explains the marriage of the sisters, and their marriage arrangements how one sister married “A Lieutenant of Marines without education, fortune, or connections, did it very thoroughly.” These will all serve to be the source of the trouble that many characters find themselves. For example, the narrator states, “an absolute breach between the sisters had taken place” (6). She explains this as “the natural result of the conduct of each party and such as a very imprudent marriage almost always produces” (6). Another example of the complex structure in sentences is found when the Austen writes “Their homes were so distant, and the circles in which they moved so distinct, as almost to preclude the means of ever hearing each other’s existence during the eleven years, or at least to make it very wonderful to Sir Thomas…(6). This complexity indicates the complex relationship and emotions the sisters found themselves in.

Zofloya and Style

Zofloya is a story whose main plot is a tragedy. This novel is classified as a gothic novel (“Dacre, Zofloya, 1806”). This is a gothic novel because the story’s outcome is a “tragedy.” Also, Victoria’s character is similar to a “Radcliffe-type heroine” (“Dacre, Zofloya, 1806”). This is because the main character is secluded from others, educated though life experiences, but she later becomes a fallen character. Zofloya possesses “special powers” over Victoria, through his deceitfulness. Also, he helps Victoria in her plots. Zofloya ends up turning into a fallen character as well. This novel contains deception and betrayal. In my opinion, this novel is a departure from many of the romances of previous eras, and it definitely portrays a new type of readership (those differing from the texts specifically for monarchs of previous eras), in that the message is a warning to readers about self-deception and betrayal. This novel appears to a wider audience, whose focus is about marriage and finding a suitable mate. This novel definitely serves to send a message to readers of what can happen when an individual comes in contact with the wrong mate.
In my view what is lacking in this novel is empathy or rather compassion for other characters that are present within the novel. Each character looks to the individual’s interests. This tendency to look out for one’s own goals and purposes will later serve to become a tragedy in the end.
When seeking to search how well this novel was received by audiences, I researched the reviews for this novel. When attempting to look up the reviews about Dacre’s novel, I came across several surprising reviews. These reviews could have been insights as to how well the novel was first received by audiences. According to a writer from “Scot’s Magazine 64 (June, 1802, p. 47), 2 “The writer states, that this text is “an improper novel” for audiences. Another writer further states the novel,” introduces the readers to scenes and language adapted to wear away the quick feelings of modesty, which form at once the ornament and the safeguard of innocence, and like the bloom upon a plumb, if effaced, commonly disappears forever (“Scots Magazine 59 (June, 1797), 374-5 extracted from Gisborne”). Another reviewer stated, in regards to Dacre’s novel, “The reason is that unfortunately they have the seeds of nonsense, bad taste, and ridiculous fancies, early sown in their minds.” (Literacy Journal, a Review of Domestic and Foreign Literature, 2nd Series June 1806, 631-635).
Even when writing the novel, Dacre argues that this is a novel intended for “principles.” For example, in chapter one, she writes “The historian who would wish his lessons to sink deep into the heart, thereby essaying to render mankind virtuous and more happy…he must ascertain causes, and follow progressively their effects; he must draw deductions from incidents as they arise, and ever revert to the actuating principle.” (“Zofloya”). Although, Dacre’s novel may have been said to badly influence readers, Dacre’s intent was to portray what could happen in the absence of morality.
Dacre’s style is similar to the style of many writers of the novel. For example, the type of characters in which she has created are distinct. It is also important to mention that even their names are significant. According to Ian Watts in the Rise of the Novel, even comments on the significance of the type of characters and the importance of the type of names given. For example he states “proper names have exactly the same function in social life: they are the verbal expression of the particular identity of each individual person. In literature, however, this function of proper names was first fully established in the novel.” (18). In my opinion, Dacre’s characters function the same way. Even the name Victoria and Zofloya have significance. Therefore, although Dacre’s novel may have not been received so well, it holds a significant place within literature.

Burney’s Style

Author of Evelina, Frances Burney’s style when writing her text is unique. While she strongly encourages creativity, she still sticks to the conventions of the day which draw on Fielding’s notion of capturing the human experience, and the “manners of the time.” These manners are particular to specific times and places for individuals. Burney strongly believes in creativity that those individuals who are strongly sparked by reason, according to Margaret Anne Doody, fail to progress within the novel and are stunted. These conventions used by Burney were part of the conservations of eighteenth century London. These conventions were defined by their realistic characteristics. In capture emotions that were common to people of the day, and the actual places where many people who lived in London traveled (examples England, France, and other locations). The true nature of Burney’s quality in style was to find value in the simple. For example, she writes, as stated in the Preface, “The heroine of the memoirs, young, artless, and inexperienced is no faultless Monster that the world ne’er saw but the offspring of Nature, and of Nature in her simplistic attire” (8). Thus, the value of the main character is her simplicity, from which many readers could relate. With this desire to capture the human experience is to depict, individuals in realistic terms, or rather the average individual. The story is told using letters, as if it is the own personal exchanges between characters. Most of our perceptions are based upon which character has written a letter.
According to Doody, creativity is important, and it is so important that rational characters, such as “Villars, Orville, Macartney and Evelina are handicapped in making progress in the world” (xv). This novel is no different from other novels of the time, which sought to discuss the average life of the citizens of the time. Doody states, “Like Fielding, Burney offers us general truth, Human Nature, and she too emphasized her role as a current historian, recording contemporary behaviour (xvi). Leonard Davis, questions this notion of capturing “Human Behaviour” which Burney attempts. His criticism is based on the idea that human experience is only applicable for individuals in particular time and places, for example what may be characteristic for eighteenth century London, may not apply to different centuries even in the same location. The situation that may be questionable within Burney’s text, is based on as Doody notes, her depiction mostly of upper class society, who as Doody states, “whose register of Manners was above that of the circle she usually frequented, as well as with a number of personages whose behavior was much rougher than that of middle-class world” (xvi). Even in the Preface, we see a statement made about the “manners” of the majority of the citizens of the time. For example, Burney states, “To draw characters from nature, though not from life, and to mark the manners of the times, is that attempted plan of the following letters “(7). The style of the writing is interesting. The author in the Preface states, “entertain the gentle expectations of being transported to the farthest region of Romance, where Fiction is coloured by all the …tints of luxurious Imagination, where Reason is outcast, and where the sublimity of the Marvelous, rejects all aid from sober Probability (8).”
The human experience is captured by drawing on the emotions in which every parent or guardian has for the upbringing of their children. For example, the story starts with the letters of Lady Howard and Mr. Villars about the orphaned infant, whose mother is now passed. This story has realistic characteristics in that all families are concerned with the rightful upbringing of their children and Mr. Villars is no exception, be he feels that Mrs. Evelyn’s character would not be a good fit for the young daughter (14). In the story, “manners” and a proper upbringing are the values that are important within the novel (14). The heroine is a child of the wealthy “Baronet” (19). The young child has a nurse. Like Fielding and others Burney rejects the romanticism and seeks to promote simplicity and innocence. For example in one letter between Lady Howard and Mr. Villars the writer states, “Her character seems truly in generous and simple; and of the same time the nature has blessed her with an excellent understanding…she has a certain air of inexperience and innocency that is extremely interesting” (22). M. Howard further states, “You have no reason to regret the retirement in which she has lived; since that politeness which is acquired by an acquaintance with high life, is in her so well supplied by a natural desire of obliging, joined to a deportment infinitely engaging” (22). Therefore, to aspire to values and characteristics of high society is important to the proper upbringing of children. This is seen to be the human experience, in that many parents and guardians can relate to these concerns in the desire to guarantee the future of their children.
Also, there is realism in that places within the novel are actual places (England, France, etc.).
While Burney promises to fill in the gap where “Richardson, Rousseau, Fielding, and Smollet have left uncovered, (she writes, “though they may have cleared the weeds, they have also called flowers, and though they have rendered the path plain, they have left it barren” (9). She still falls into the traps of their conventions, as seen in this attempt to capture the realistic aspects of society at the time.