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Construing Affect in Wuthering Heights

Author SuLin
Tutor LiuShiZhu
School Shandong University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords Wuthering Heights Appraisal Theory Affect system Affect classification
Type Master's thesis
Year 2010
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Since its first publication in 1847, Emily Bronte’s only novel Wuthering Heights has received numerous of explanations and interpretations from various perspectives. Up to now, comments on the novel’s theme, structure and the protagonists’personalities are also the focus of the literary critics. And, as the development of modeem psychology, feminism, esthetics, there are also a large amount of comments on the novel from the perspectives listed above. Wuthering Heights comes to China at early 19th century, and after it was translated into Chinese, there are also scholars compare the different Chinese versions of this novel at home. In 1989, Dbbyns explores the relationship between mood (a major exponent of Interpersonal) and characters and in 1992 Weber examines the interpersonal meaning of Wuthering Heights in terms of modality (another major exponent of interpersonal), and since then scholars began to pay attention to investigate this novel from Systemic Functional Linguistics’perspective.Appraisal Theory is a newly developed semantic discourse analysis in Systemic Functional Grammar. Based.on the interpersonal meaning of language, Halliday (1994 [1985]) established the interpersonal system fulfilled by Mood, Modality, Polarity and some wordings with evaluative meanings. Appraisal theory developed by Martin and his colleagues is mainly embodied by lexical items. According to them, Appraisal theory is concerned with the linguistic resources for and by which a text/speaker come to express, negotiate and naturalize inter-subjective and ultimately ideological position. There are three sub-systems in Appraisal Theory—Attitude, Engagement and Graduation. Attitude is the core system, and "have to do with evaluating things, people’s character and their feeling" (Martin & Rose,2003). Attitude can be divided into three sub-systems:Affect, Judgment and Appreciation. Judgment reworks feelings in the realm of proposals about behavior; Appreciation is mainly concerned in the value of things and phenomena. Affect, the focal Attitude system, indicates how the writer/speaker emotionally disposed to the person, thing, happening or state affair. Appraisal Theory is kind of semantic discourse analysis. Many scholars apply Appraisal Theory to analyze the texts of law and hard news. However, few have tried their feet in the literary works. This thesis intends to find the frequencies and distribution of affective resources in Wuthering Heights in the framework of Appraisal Theory. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches will be applied.It is found that, in the novel, Unhappiness affect appears most frequently, it accounts for 37.96%; followed by Happiness affect,25.39%, from which we can conclude that love and hatred is one of the themes in the novel. In other types of Affect system, compared with others in the same type, complex-affect (59.09%), and high-affect (14.97) have higher frequency, which can indicate that the protagonists’emotions are complex and strong.According to the development of the plot, the novel is divided into four parts, and the thesis also finds some similarities and differences of the affective resources’ distribution. As for the similarities, all the four parts prefer complex affect (52.87%、55.93%、60.62%、68.15%), mental-state affect (48.77%、57.63%、53.03%、48.15%), and Irrealis affect.(7.17%、12.20%、9.10%、16.11%). Alongside the similarities, the four part differ in TYPE one, TYPE two, and TYPE five, that is, unhappiness (28.89%,39.87%,40.30%) and negative affect (59.22%,61.15%,64.52%) are the favored emotions in part one, two and three, while happiness and positive affect account for a higher portion in part four; in part one, two and four, undirected affect (19.06%、24.07%、25.37%) has higher frequency while directed affect (19.28%) makes up a high portion in part three. It can be a statistical support of the intuition that there’s the return of humanity in part four.Furthermore, this thesis also explores the relationship between the affective words and the development of the theme in the novel; the interpersonal meaning of the affective words in this novel is also discussed. In addition, the prosodic structure of the affective resources is displayed too, by analyzing which we can get the thread of the novel is love—atred—revenge—the return of humanity.To sum up, this thesis explores the Affective resources in Wuthering Heights from a new perspective in the framework of Appraisal Theory. It aims to provide a statistical support to the affective interpretation of the novel, to find the interpersonal meaning of affective words, to display the way that the affective words construe discourse, and to explore the prosodic structure of Affect in this novel. Moreover, its implications are to give the readers an appropriate guidance. It is also hoped to be continuative to the translation of this novel.

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