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An Analysis of to the Lighthouse from the Perspective of Feminist Narratology

Author YuFang
Tutor LvYi
School Liaoning University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords feminist narratology narrative techniques authorial voice narrative authority
Type Master's thesis
Year 2011
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The vanguard modernist novelist, feminist author—Virginia Woolf thinks that the potential of modernist literature will let women to write of women as women have never been written of before. However, at that time, due to reason of history and society, the works of feminism were hard to get the recognition from both critics and public and construct their own narrative authority under the suppression of male narrative authority. Due to the restrictions from male narrative authority, the feminism was still catalogued into edge ideology. However, Woolf became the rare one of recognized female authors, which must be attributed to her artful and unique narrative techniques.With the fast development of modernist literature, the defects existed in classic narratology was realized gradually. On the other hand, feminism was stuck in the bottleneck of development. The former one paid much attention to theories and rules, while the latter one was too much emotional. At that time, many scholars realized the possibility of combining the two ideologies. Feminist narratology is just the combination. It takes re-catalogued narrative voice as entry point,integrating the theories from the voice of theory in feminist literature criticism and narrative voice theory in classic narratology. The ideology that integrates emotional and rational analysis ways provides a reasonable way to analysis modern feminist works.The thesis analyzes Virginia Woolf’s classic stream of consciousness novel—To the Lighthouse in the view of feminist narratology. It begins with the analysis of Woolf’s unique narrative techniques, and then to explore Woolf’s“effaced”authorial voice for concluding how Woolf constructed her own narrative authority.The thesis consists of three parts: introduction, main body and conclusion.The first part is introduction. It introduces Woolf’s literature achievements and the current research situation of her works in the field of feminist literature criticism and narratology. Then, the content and current research status of To the Lighthouse is introduced briefly. At last, it points out the innovation of thesis. The analysis in the view of feminist narratology combines the features of emotional feminism literature criticism and the characteristics of rational classic narratology. It provides one of the most comprehensive ways to analyze how Woolf established her female narrative authority by the virtue of artful and unique narrative techniques.The second part is the main body of the thesis, which is composed by three chapters.Chapter I is the brief introduction to feminist naratology. At first, it introduces the born of feminist because of the necessity to make up the defects of feminism literature criticism and narraology. Next, it introduces the characteristics of feminist narratology:Its research methods and rules originates from classic narratology, while its concept and standpoint stem from feminist literature criticism. At last, it introduces the new analysis method in feminist narratology. It re-divides the types of narrative voice, including authorial voice, personal voice, and communal voice. It shows feminist narratology just takes narrative voice as its entry point of analysis, thus helps critics to analyze how writers to acquire narrative authority.Chapter II analyzes Woolf’unique narrative techniques used in To the Lighthouse. At first, it takes some textual examples for analyzing the use of free indirect speech, which shows free indirect speech plays a kind of roles of irony and hints the complicated relationships among different characters. Next, some quotation from the text shows indirect interior monologue present the internal world of characters, and reflects their internal reality. At last, the use of shifting limited point of view enriches and completes the incarnation of characters from diversified angles.Chapter III explores the narrative techniques above in To the Lighthouse more deeply, which aims to analyze how Woolf established her“effaced”authorial voice step by step. The chapter is divided into two parts. The first part demonstrates the existence of“effaced”authorial voice in the work. At first, besides playing the role of irony, it shows that free indirect speech brought a kind of aesthetical distance into narration, in which narrator’s voice can hide. We can see that free indirect speech provides the condition of authorial voice’s construction. Then, through analyzing indirect interior monologue in text, it presents the similarity of different characters’narrative discourse in indirect interior monologue. The characters all used a kind of Woolf’s unique female discourse. The kind of discourse provides a kind of shape and mode to“Maxims”—the important function of authorial voice.“Maxims”means the principles that made text reasonable and full of authority. If the narration could be within the scope of principles, the narration will be more easily accepted by readers. Readers will consider the narration reasonable and approve its reality and authority. At last, the use of shift of limited point of view confirms the existence of the narrator. Also, those maxims-like speeches and conclusions richen the“Maxims”in the discourse of different characters, which is the final proof of narrator’s existence. The second part is about the relationship between the“effaced”authorial voice and Woolf’s narrative authority. Woolf just makes the use of the kind of authorial voice for not exposing her feminist consciousness directly. On the basis of readers’admiration to these unique narrative techniques, Woolf plants her feminist consciousness under the protection of artistry, and then acquires narrative authority, In To the Lighthouse, Woolf constructs a kind of feminine“Maxims”. Everything just within the“Maxims”will be considered as reasonable. Therefore, the irony to males, and feminist discussion to the relationship between male and female reflected in the use of free indirect speech and indirect interior monologue can be rationalized. Also, the male character speaks a kind of female language in the shift of limited point of view can be accepted, which became the blow to deconstruct male narrative discourse authority.The last part of thesis is conclusion. It concludes the analysis results of previous parts. It assures that Woolf used a kind of“effaced”authorial voice to scatter her feminist consciousness into the discourse and interior monologue of every character, which can acquire narrative authority rather than expose her edge consciousness. Readers can be attracted because of her artful and unique narration. Meanwhile, they can be affected and moved by rationalized feminist consciousness, and give their recognition to the work.

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