Essay The Narrative Voice of Middlemarch and Wuthering Heights

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During the nineteenth century, the novel as a form underwent a radical development and authors of prose fiction began to allow their creativity to intertwine with realist conventions. Authors such as Charles Dickens and George Eliot created a new kind of imaginative prose writing, which straddled the cusp of imagination and reality. Prior to this, the conventions of the novel were far more historical and factual than the novels of the nineteenth century – many authors at this point seemed to find it difficult to refrain from drawing their own experiences into their work - and the novel as a form was considered by many to be a very middle class idea, as the rise of the novel coincided with the mergence of the middle-class in British society. This surfacing middle-class became the audience to whom authors of this time were addressing. Many of these novels were the earliest versions of the ‘bildungsroman’, or the ‘coming of age’ novel following the spiritual, moral and psychological progression of a child into adulthood. These works were very often highly embellished autobiographies of their authors, (a prime example of this kind of novel is Defoe’s 1719 novel Robinson Crusoe) as opposed to the creative works of literature we as readers are familiar with today. The novel began to develop during the nineteenth century, and Victorian novelists wanted to make the novel far more exciting and interesting, but also transform it into a significant and serious form or art. As Martin Ade-Onojobi-Bennett writes:
‘the novel developed towards a deeper philosophic analysis of the implications of a situation and rendering experience which was more careful, realistic and ‘poetic’. There was a tendency to lay emphasis on the daily life of the comm...

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...a Fludernik, An Introduction to Narratology (Routledge: Abingdon, 2009) p.56
George Eliot, Impressions of Theophrastus Such ed. Nancy Hendry (University of Iowa Press: Iowa City, 1994) p. 3
Joshua Tucker, ‘Words We Couldn’t Say: The Narrator’s Search For Meaning in Middlemarch’ (2004)
Available electronically at [accessed 10 May 2012]
George Eliot, Middlemarch ed. Gregory Maertz (Broadview Press Ltd: Canada, 2004) p.94
Joshua Tucker, ‘Words We Couldn’t Say: The Narrator’s Search For Meaning in Middlemarch’ (2004)
Available electronically at [accessed 10 May 2012]
Eliot, Middlemarch, p. 77
Eugene Goodheart, ‘The Licensed Trespasser: The Omniscient Narrator in Middlemarch’ in Novel Practices: Classic Modern Fiction (Transaction Publishers: New Jersey, 2004) pp. 2-3
Eliot, Middlemarch

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