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Title: The Concept of Irony in Jane Austen, with Constant Reference to Virginia Woolf.
Keywords: Irony, Austen, Woolf, Narratology, Aesthetics, Realism
Issue Date: 4-Aug-2010
Citation: LORRAINE YANG ZHENPING (2010-08-04). The Concept of Irony in Jane Austen, with Constant Reference to Virginia Woolf.. ScholarBank@NUS Repository.
Abstract: Although irony has often been discussed in Austen?s fiction, the understanding of irony in Austen has been surprisingly simplistic, with many critics arguing that her irony is stable. Firstly, this can be attributed to the lack of Austen criticism that takes into account theoretical discussions about irony. Secondly, this view is due to a lack of consideration for Austen?s aesthetics or a misreading of Austen that sees her aesthetics as supporting diadactism. This thesis aims to revisit the notion of irony in Jane Austen by including insights that have been gleaned from the theorizing of irony. In the process, it hopes to provide a meta-critical explanation to the conflict in the Austen canon, which involves most critics either as reacting against or supporting what they think are her views. In order to get a sense of Austen?s irony, I have compared her aesthetics to those of Woolf in addition to looking at texts on the concept of irony. I argue that both Austen?s and Woolf?s use of irony cannot be divorced from their concerns with realism, which for them consists not of fiction that attempts to replicate external reality through minute description but rather their treatment of fiction as if it were reality. I show that free indirect discourse is a crucial feature in generating irony in Woolf?s and Austen?s texts, arguing that irony in both authors takes the form of an infinite dialectic. Using the examples of these two authors, I also show that irony is a method of generating both intellectual and emotional engagement in their fiction. I hope not only to revision Austen?s aesthetics but also provide an insight into how the notions of irony and realism operate in the texts of both authors.
Appears in Collections:Master's Theses (Open)

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