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Valint, Alexandra (2012) COLLABORATION AND CONTESTATION: THE VICTORIAN MULTIPLE-NARRATOR NOVEL. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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This dissertation argues that the multiple-narrator structure enables unity and harmony among narrators rather than pursuing the perspectival splintering and cacophony that one might expect to rise from such a structure. The Victorian multiple-narrator novel, therefore, embodies a fantasy of smooth collaboration among a heterogeneous selection of narrators—including women and men, adults and children, working class and gentry—and thereby employs a liberal, though not quite democratic, integration of narrators. Although narrators may possess different backgrounds, interests, and beliefs, their narrations neatly support each other’s presentation of the facts; the multiple-narrator novel, therefore, provides a system by which to mobilize and collate facts—the fact being central to the Victorians’ conception of knowledge.
The dissertation’s opening chapter distinguishes the Victorians’ multiple-narrator offerings from similar iterations in the eighteenth and early twentieth century. Successful and self-conscious collaboration—both in narrative and in plot—proves unique to the Victorian versions of this structure. By drawing attention to the similarities between the two narrators of Charles Dickens’s Bleak House, chapter two argues that the novel’s content and structure actualize the shift between the aristocratic woman of surface and the feminine domestic ideal of depth. Chapter three covers novels that utilize more than two narrators: Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Richard Marsh’s The Beetle, and Wilkie Collins’s The Moonstone and The Woman in White. In each novel, a foreign entity invades England, and the British respond with a narrative that counters the invader by creating a balance between the individual and the community. The quick switch—a sole, brief switch in narrators—in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and Juliana Ewing’s A Great Emergency is the purview of chapter four. The quick switch is the exception to my argument because it magnifies rather than minimizes the differences between narrators by using narrative as a form of punishment. As chapter five argues, the narrators in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall differ in gender and status yet bond over the sharing of narrative, but while Lockwood and Nelly both desire distance and closure, Gilbert and Helen pursue exchange and closeness.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Valint, Alexandraarv10@pitt.eduARV10
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairArac,
Committee MemberBoone, Troyboone@pitt.eduBOONE
Committee MemberGubar, Marahmjg4@pitt.eduMJG4
Committee MemberMecchia, Giuseppinamecchia@pitt.eduMECCHIA
Date: 4 October 2012
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 27 July 2012
Approval Date: 4 October 2012
Submission Date: 7 August 2012
Access Restriction: 5 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 5 years.
Number of Pages: 414
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > English
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Victorian novel, multiple-narrator novel, narrative theory, Victorian narrators, omniscience, frame narratives
Date Deposited: 04 Oct 2012 19:59
Last Modified: 04 Oct 2017 05:15


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