REVELATION AND CONCEALMENT: WOMAN AND THE NOVELS OF FANNY BURNEY (FEMINISM)

JOANNE L CUTTING-GRAY, Marquette University

Abstract

The novels of Fanny Burney are usually seen within the patriarchal code of individual autonomy, as domestic tales of "female difficulties," or as stories of women as victims. All these views share the same values but do not explain narrative gaps that occur when heroines, who cannot confer names, resort to madness, sickness and hysteria in order to be heard. This study adopts a pluralistic perspective whereby woman functions as alterity, as the outsider who provides limits and homogeneity for culture. Burney exposes patriarchal strategies that create woman as other, granting the silenced female voice a discourse that reestablishes displaced, affective and communal bonds. Chapter one focusses upon Burney's address to "Nobody" in the early diaries. "Nobody" dismantles the "author" as both authority and originator, replacing it with a multi-voiced community of discourse. Chapter two follows Evelina's journey from innocence to experience that is obstructed by a code of virtue and measurable worth. When Evelina yields to the essentialist female role she cannot assimilate her experience. She discovers her voice and reveals her interpretive force by writing her own journal. Chapters three and four describe the problems of madness, hysteria, and namelessness in Cecilia and Camilla as attempts to disavow the rational. Cecilia's madness and Camilla's hysteria demonstrate how a rational model and its basis in doubt create the irrational. Chapter five shows how The Wanderer thematizes the issue of name that pervades the earlier novels. "Incognita," forbidden to name herself, discovers that the condition of namelessness is a way to reveal and name.

Recommended Citation

CUTTING-GRAY, JOANNE L, "REVELATION AND CONCEALMENT: WOMAN AND THE NOVELS OF FANNY BURNEY (FEMINISM)" (1986). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. AAI8708722.
https://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8708722

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