Storytelling and Self-Formation in Nineteenth-Century British Novels
Hyun, Sook K.
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This dissertation aims to examine the various ways in which three Victorian novels, such as Wilkie Collins?s The Woman in White (1860), Anne Bront??s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848), Charlotte Bront??s Villette (1853), address the relationship between storytelling and self-formation, showing that a subject formulates a sense of self by storytelling. The constructed nature of self and storytelling in Collins?s The Woman in White shows that narrative is a significant way of attributing meaning in our lives and that constructing stories about self is connected to the construction of self, illustrating that storytelling is a form of self-formation. Anne Bront??s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall exemplifies Bront??s configuration of the relational and contextual aspect of storytelling and self-formation in her belief that self is formed not merely through the story he/she tells but through the triangular relationship of the storyteller, the story, and the reader. This novel proves that even though the writer?s role in constructing his/her self-concept through his/her narrative is important, the narrator?s triangular relationship with the reader and the text is also a significant component in his/her self-formation. Charlotte Bront??s Villette is concerned with unnarration, in which the narrative does not say, and it shows that the unnarrated elements provide useful resource for the display of the narrator?s self. For Charlotte Bront?, unnarration is part of the narrative configuration that contributes to constructing and presenting the storyteller?s self-formation. These three novels illuminate that narrative is more than linguistic activities of the symbolic representation of the world, and that it cannot be fully conceived without taking into consideration the storyteller?s experience and thoughts of the world.