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  • Fictional Minds and Female Sexuality:The Consciousness Scene from Pamela to Lady Chatterley's Lover

Why have all the major novelistic innovations in representing consciousness been achieved through depicting the minds of female characters? This essay argues that eighteenth-century conduct books provided the cultural impetus and structural frame for a particular subjectivity--the self-examining heroine--that required the development of narrative techniques for rendering fictional minds. The essay traces the consciousness scene from the early novel to the twentieth century in order to demonstrate how the historical development of modes of thought representation has been synonymous with explorations of female sexual identity, played out most specifically in the relation between narrator and character fostered by free indirect discourse.

Laying bare the thoughts of another is considered both the privilege of fiction and the clearest sign of its fictionality. It is not surprising, then, that the historical development of the novel is often understood in terms of its increasingly sophisticated capacity to reveal without mediation the dynamic interior lives of fictional characters. In her magisterial study on this topic, Transparent Minds, Dorrit Cohn writes that chapter 42 of Henry James's The Portrait of a Lady (what James called in his preface "my young woman's extraordinary meditative vigil") is "a supreme illustration of the paradox that narrative fiction attains its greatest 'air of reality' in the representation of a lone figure thinking thoughts she will never communicate to anyone."1 In this passage the pronoun she, while referring specifically to Isabel Archer, also functions to denote in general terms the gender of that lone figure. Cohn's observation frames the central question of this article: why have all the major technical innovations in novelistic thought representation occurred through depicting the consciousness of female characters? From Samuel Richardson's Clarissa scribbling her "instantaneous descriptions and reflections" in epistolary form, to Isabella's flight through the catacombs in Horace Walpole's inaugural gothic novel, to Jane Austen's refinement of free indirect discourse to render Emma Woodhouse or Anne Wentworth's thoughts, through to the interior monologue of Isabel Archer's "meditative vigil," the musings of Dorothy Richardson's Miriam Henderson, and Molly Bloom's stream of consciousness soliloquy, it seems that what women think, and the way they think, has been a major impetus in developing the paradox of narrative fiction.2

The majority of these scenes, and many others like them, especially in the early novel, involve heroines sitting down to scrutinize and judge their own motivations and behavior, or spending a sleepless night assailed by guilty thoughts, or reacting epiphanically to a letter they have received. In these scenes we can trace the broad historical trajectory [End Page 161] of the novel from authorial to figural narration, and the accompanying shift from narratorial summary of characters' minds to dramatized rendering of their thought processes through the development of free indirect discourse. These scenes also lend weight to the argument not only that the novel participates in the discursive construction of the modern individual, but that this individual, as Nancy Armstrong claims, "was first and foremost a woman."3 What role, then, does gender play in the formal history of novelistic thought representation?

Franco Moretti has recently couched his campaign for distant reading in terms of the explanatory value of tracing historical patterns in a vast corpus of novels: "we all analyze stylistic structures—free indirect style, stream of consciousness, melodramatic excess, whatever. But it's striking how little we actually know about the genesis of these forms. Once they're there, we know what to do; but how did they get there in the first place?"4 Moretti himself has provided a brief evolutionary morphology in Graphs, Maps, and Trees, employing an arborescent metaphor to map the development of free indirect discourse onto larger social structures. Describing free indirect style as "[e]motions, plus distance," Moretti argues that its composite mixture of subjective character and objective narratorial voices emerged alongside and helped enact "the process of modern socialization."5 Tracing the history of this form, Moretti argues, enables us to see the changing balance between "social doxa and the individual voice" in Western Europe, first in the "gradual entropic drift from 'reflective' to 'non-reflective' consciousness" characterized by Austen's and Flaubert's use, and then the twentieth-century emphasis on the subjective and singular experience whereby the third-person voice of free indirect style yields to the experiments of modernist stream of consciousness.6

Moretti offers a broad cultural context for the formal history that Cohn had mapped out in Transparent Minds. The origins of stylistic structures of thought representation have continued to be a source of investigation in narratological scholarship, with more recent attention being paid to free indirect discourse in pre-novelistic fiction. Much of this work has been concerned with the cognitive parameters that have accompanied and enabled the development of fictional minds, with the study of how fiction stimulates Theory of Mind through its representation of intermental thinking, and with enquires into how the unnatural nature of access to these minds became conventionalized.7 However, I don't think we can fully understand this formal history without addressing why the development of fictional minds finds its expression in female consciousness, or rather, why this became the site [End Page 162] of exploration, why women became the locus for what Moretti calls the "unprecedented 'third' voice" of "the well socialized individual."8

To do this, it is necessary to consider how eighteenth-century debates about the relative merits of external and internal methods for rendering character are connected to the discursive relationship between the emerging genre of the novel and the contemporaneous proliferation of conduct books for women. At the same time that novelists were experimenting with methods for revealing the secret recesses of the soul in their fiction, conduct books elaborated strictures on what constituted the natural state of female consciousness, setting up a tension between examining the heart and regulating one's conduct in order to achieve this natural state. As John Gregory wrote in A Father's Legacy to His Daughters: "I do not want to make you any thing; I want to know what Nature has made you, and to perfect you on her plan."9 The technology of the self encouraged by conduct books, I argue, provides the cultural impetus and structural frame for the formal method of rendering characters' interiority, establishing the generic scene of heroines reviewing their conduct as a convention that persists into the twentieth century. If, as Monika Fludernik suggests, "the invention of the consciousness scene marks a crucial step in the shift from 'early narrative' to 'the novel,'" the development of this scene in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries constructed a particular type of novelistic subjectivity that facilitated the extended use of free indirect discourse.10 This subjectivity—the self-examining heroine—is so pervasive that the consciousness scene is, for all intents and purposes, the conduct scene. In fact, the interrogatives and expletives so commonly seen as indices of free indirect discourse lend themselves to the gendered practice of self-scrutiny encouraged by conduct books. For instance, here is a piece of advice from Arthur Freeling's 1839 conduct book, The Young Bride's Book: Being Hints for Regulating the Conduct of Married Women: "imagine yourself once more in the presence of your lover, before marriage; and ask yourself, 'Would he not have been displeased by this conduct?'—if your judgment answers in the affirmative, depend upon it you have passed the bounds of propriety."11 And here is a passage from Charles Reade's 1866 sensationalist novel, Griffith Gaunt, giving us the thoughts of Mrs. Gaunt:

She sat down again, and put her head in her hand to think it all over, and a chill thought ran through her. Was her conduct wise? What would Griffith think at her employing his rival? Would he not infer Neville [End Page 163] had entered her service in more senses than one? Perhaps he would throw the letter in the dirt in a rage, and never read it.12

The replication of both the type of self-interrogation and the pattern of questioning indicates that the origins of the vital novelistic feature of free indirect discourse must be understood in more specific terms than a broad tension between social doxa and individual voice, and in more specifically gendered terms than the absorption of first-person subjectivity into the grammar of objective third-person narration. In this essay I will trace the consciousness scene from the early novel to the twentieth century in order to demonstrate how experiments with thought representation have been synonymous with explorations of female sexual identity, played out most specifically in the relation between narrator and character fostered by free indirect discourse. In doing so, I will argue that the notorious sex scenes of Lady Chatterley's Lover represent the culmination of a trajectory for the consciousness scene begun in the eighteenth-century novel.

i. conduct books and the novel

We know from historians that while conduct books had chiefly been written for aristocratic men, those for women proliferated in the early eighteenth century; that they differed from those of the previous century by promoting a view of women as naturally chaste, modest, and virtuous rather than as possessing a dangerous sexual appetite; and that their central paradox was that they professed to guide women in cultivating modes of behavior that were meant to come naturally to them. As Ingrid Tague writes, in Women of Quality: "The conduct books themselves embodied this basic contradiction; writers insisted on innate female characteristics within the format of an overly prescriptive genre which would appear to demand a recognition that behavior was learned. If feminine behavior was natural, why would women need to be instructed in it at all?"13

A good example of this paradox can be found in A Father's Legacy to His Daughters, in which Gregory writes: "from the view I have given of your natural character and place in society, there arises a certain propriety of conduct peculiar to your sex."14 Upon outlining a system of conduct to be followed, he notes: "Now I do not wish you to affect delicacy; I wish you to possess it."15 As a result, conduct books encouraged a habitual practice of self-surveillance to ensure conformity to an ideal of the natural woman. In this practice we can [End Page 164] see the influence of Christian thought and the genre of the spiritual autobiography. Marjorie Morgan emphasizes the importance of evangelism to eighteenth-century conduct literature, and this is exemplified by Hester Chapone's 1773 Letters on the Improvement of the Mind, Addressed to a Young Lady: "Watch then, my dear child, and observe every evil propensity of your heart, that you may in time correct it, with the assistance of that grace which alone can conquer the evils of our nature, and which you must constantly and earnestly implore."16

In The Crisis of Courtesy, Jacques Carré demonstrates that the overall genre of the British courtesy book gradually declined over the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. However, for Carré this "did not simply lead to the narrowing down of a genre into repetitive, uninspired, although (for modern readers) occasionally hilarious manuals of etiquette; but rather it involved the dissemination of its subject matter into a broad range of literary genres, such as, preeminently, the novel."17 Literary scholars such as Joyce Hemlow, Nancy Armstrong, Mary Poovey, and Jane Spencer have argued compellingly for the influence of conduct literature on the emergent domestic fiction of the eighteenth century, demonstrating how novels by women in particular, legitimized by the success of Richardson's epistolary fiction, participated in the construction of this bourgeois ideal of feminine nature. Armstrong writes: "A figure of female subjectivity, a grammar really, awaited the substance that the novel and its readers, as well as the countless individuals educated according to the model of the new woman, would eventually provide."18

It's hard to dismiss these general arguments. Certainly, the novel would have developed without conduct books, but its discursive relationship to conduct literature has surely shaped its preoccupations and its form. This is obvious from the fact that Richardson's Pamela developed from his "Familiar Letters on Important Occasions," and that Henry Fielding worked on his "Essay on Conversation" at the same time he was writing Joseph Andrews. Tim McLoughlin suggests that the period of 1740–41 could be marked "as a moment in English literature when two major fiction writers realised in different ways that the moral purpose of the conduct-book might be more pleasantly and extensively served by the novel."19 This is not to suggest, simplistically, that novels disseminated the ideology of conduct books in a more palatable narrative form. Conduct literature regularly warned readers against the dangers of fiction, and the emergent genre of the novel was in competition with these books. In asserting its cultural legitimacy, the novel shared some of the same rhetoric—providing moral guidance [End Page 165] for young readers—while showing how its generic form (perhaps, we might say, its fictionality) was superior in achieving this. But along with such rhetorical posturing, novels demonstrated their capacity to interrogate the way characters engaged with a gendered model of conduct, most particularly in the consciousness scene that renders legible a habitual practice of self-surveillance, and which becomes the basis for developing new methods of thought representation.

The elements of this model of conduct can be found in A Letter of Genteel and Moral Advice to a Young Lady, published in 1741, the year between Pamela and Joseph Andrews. According to its author, Reverend Wentenhall Wilkes, "A Lady is never so sure of her Conduct, as when the Verdict she passes upon her own Behaviour is confirmed by the Opinion of all, that know her. By an Observation of these Rules, you will come to a Discovery of all the Foibles, that lurk in the secret Corners of your Soul; and will soon arrive at a true, and impartial Knowledge of yourself."20 Here we find the claim that rigorous judgment of one's own conduct will lead to knowledge of one's inner self. However, a lady arrives at this knowledge by matching her own judgment to the judgment others make of her conduct. Wilkes goes on to advise that each night a young lady ought to consider that she may never wake again until the resurrection and judgment, and hence should "[i]mpregnate this with your Belief, and then sum up your Accompts, and examine your Conduct in the foregoing Day."21 Two key elements of prescribed Christian practice—discovering the secrets of one's soul, and regularly examining one's conduct—become gendered in this conduct book through its address to a young lady, and eventually become secularized in the generic structure of the novel. Formally speaking, this occurs when the injunction to "examine your Conduct" becomes rephrased as a common descriptive inquit phrase, a mental verb signaling the commencement of a consciousness scene. Furthermore, when internal soliloquy is presented alongside authorial commentary, the omniscient narrator adopts the role of ultimate judge assumed by God to become, in William Makepeace Thackeray's words (as he peeps into Becky Sharp's bedroom at the beginning of a consciousness scene), the "master of her secrets, and seal-keeper of that young woman's conscience."22

ii. examining the heart and representing character

In what Catherine Gallagher has called the "competition for discursive space," eighteenth-century novelists self-consciously distinguished [End Page 166] their work from earlier romances by virtue of their probability and their focus on everyday life, and from history by virtue of offering accounts of the private life of characters.23 In a 1779 article encompassing both fiction and history, William Craig argues that a character may be delineated by two methods: describing "the internal feelings of the mind" or providing an account of "external conduct."24 The former, Craig suggests, operates by offering the general qualities that a character possesses, but this can be too general, while giving information about external conduct can be too particular. Novelists, he argued, typically erred by attending "more to the story and the circumstances they relate, than to giving new and just views of the character of the person they present."25 Missing from this account is a sense that "internal feelings" do not have to be static qualities, but a dynamic process of thought that can be as particular as actions. This was the purpose of the emergent consciousness scene, and discussions about the representation of character were framed by debates about the relative merits of epistolary, memoir, and narrative methods of storytelling. The development of these methods, and the exchanges between them, parallel and mobilize the tension that emerges from eighteenth-century conduct literature: the injunction to internalize codes of external conduct in order to realize a natural state.

Richardson had, earlier in the century, offered his epistolary method as the best means for revealing the secret recesses of the heart. In the preface to the third volume of Clarissa, Richard Warburton asserted that this method afforded the author

the only natural opportunity that could be had, of representing with any grace those lively and delicate impressions which Things present are known to make upon the minds of those affected by them. And he apprehends that, in the study of Human Nature, the knowledge of those apprehensions leads us farther in the recesses of the Human Mind, than the colder and more general reflections suited to a continued and more contracted narrative.26

Richardson's justification for the naturalness of his method lies foremost in the issue of temporality: only by having a character write a letter can authors represent their thoughts in the moment, unlike the retrospective nature of autobiographical or narrative (third-person) modes. The same argument for dramatic immediacy and access to the interior was made in the preface to The Cry by Sarah Fielding and Jane Collier. In this preface the authors inform readers that their intention "is not to amuse them with a number of surprising incidents [End Page 167] and adventures, but rather to paint the inward mind."27 However, they seek to justify a fantastic departure from the pseudofactual replication of epistolary and memoir novels by asserting that "[i]n order to dive into those recesses, and lay them open to the reader in a striking and intelligible manner, it is necessary to assume a certain freedom in writing, not strictly perhaps within the limits prescribed by rules."28 The liberty they take in this novel is to have their characters, Portia and Cylinda, appear before an "allegorical assembly" known as "THE CRY," in order to relate their past lives and defend themselves against the judgment of this disembodied voice.29 Fielding and Collier point out that they have borrowed the convention of the stage in presenting scenes, but have maintained "the privilege of being our own chorus" in order to relay information "or, according to the author of Tom Jones, to tell what we cannot prevail on any of our actors to tell our readers for us."30 The significance of this early work is its attempt to retain the intimate access to the interior afforded by character narration, yet liberate the method from the burden of exposition that stretches the probability of its representation. Furthermore, their formal experiment takes shape in a story of women reflecting upon and attempting to justify their conduct.

The privileged chorus they refer to is the counter-method of authorial narration. A common rhetorical strategy for third-person narrators was either to refuse to divulge the contents of a mind, or to claim that it was impossible to describe the range of emotions a character experienced in a moment of anxiety (something shared by first-person narrators). These statements of course, were often followed by attempts to do so, either through a general summation of their emotional state or through the device of the soliloquy. Tom Jones in particular is a classic example of an omniscient narrator who oscillates between revealing thoughts, withholding them, or affecting not to know them, with the express motivation of challenging readers' assumptions about the characters. The character of Sophia is a case in point. At one point Fielding indulges the curiosity of readers by "disclosing what passed in the mind of Sophia" and describing in general terms the affliction of her love for Tom Jones.31 At another point he writes: "As to the present situation of her mind, I shall adhere to a rule of Horace, by not attempting to describe it, from despair of success."32 When we do get something resembling a consciousness scene, it is one that will become very familiar: [End Page 168]

As for Sophia, her mind was not perfectly easy under this first practice of deceit; upon which, when she retired to her chamber, she reflected with the highest uneasiness and conscious shame. Nor could the peculiar hardship of her situation, and the necessity of the case, at all reconcile her mind to her conduct; for the frame of her mind was too delicate to bear the thought of having been guilty of a falsehood, however qualified by circumstances. Nor did this thought once suffer her to close her eyes during the whole succeeding night.33

The key feature of this brief scene is the struggle to "reconcile her mind to her conduct" and the chief emotion is that of shame. Sophia had felt compelled to pretend that she did not know her visitor was Tom Jones, a mild deceit which the narrator informs us was the consequence of the "Necessity of Custom" by which all women in love "are restrained, not from submitting to the honest Impulses of Nature (for that would be a foolish Prohibition), but from owning them."34 Yet the shame Sophia experiences is also evidence of her natural delicacy, meaning that internal conflict is the expected state of a well-regulated mind.

If we ask not only how, but why third-person narration from this point began to develop more intricate forms of interiority, I would venture that it is precisely this struggle of female characters to reconcile their private desires with expectations of their external conduct that necessitated a rendering of their internal scrutiny, and hence the gradual merger of psycho-narration and the soliloquy in the grammar of third-person narration. Thomas Marriot's Female Conduct, written in verse and designed to provide religious and moral precepts as well as practical rules of conduct, contains this advice:

Search the Recesses of the human Soul,Mark there, what secret Springs her Acts control,What Near Resemblance, Vice to Virtue bears,How deep Ambition, mask'd in patriot Cares,Of public Spirit, the Appearance wears.35

As we have seen, the genre of the novel asserts its cultural authority by arguing that its form can provide access to these recesses of the human soul. At the time of Marriot's book, published in 1759, this is argued most forcefully in regards to the epistolary method. However, the quantitative decline of first-person narration towards the latter part of the eighteenth century occurs when this method is no longer considered the best for revealing the interior struggle of characters. Regarding the "narrative" method of third-person narration, Anna Laetitia Barbauld argued in 1804: "The author, like the muse, is [End Page 169] supposed to know everything; he can reveal the secret springs of actions, and let us into events in his own time and manner."36 The replication of the phrase "secret springs" demonstrates the collusion of the authorial narrator with the endeavour of female characters to search their soul.

At this juncture, it is worth pointing to another work published in the same year as Marriot's Female Conduct: Adam Smith's Theory of Moral Sentiments, one of the philosophical touchstones for historians of the novel. Smith's famous account of the mental operation of sympathy is founded on the practice of self-examination: "We endeavour to examine our own conduct as we imagine any other fair and impartial spectator would examine it."37 Smith's work may be viewed as a correction to David Hume's earlier theory of sympathy as the affective transfer of feelings, but it also recalls Reverend Wilkes's assertion that a woman can be certain of her conduct when her judgment of her own behaviour "is confirmed by the Opinion of all," and that her self-scrutiny will lead to a "true, and impartial Knowledge" of herself. For Smith, the "impartial spectator" is what enables us to be morally conscious, to judge our own conduct and character as a means to guard against self-love, and this morality arises from sympathy, our desire for approbation from others. If Smith's theory percolates through the novel as a kind of moral justification for its function, the social force of the conduct book ensures that in the newly emergent genre the impartial observer becomes embedded in the fictional minds of female characters.38 We can turn now to some examples to see how the movement from authorial to figural narration from the eighteenth century is accompanied by developing the consciousness scene as a site for narrativizing the grammar of conduct literature, and embedding the language of this literature in the minds of self-communing characters.

iii. female consciousness and the conduct scene

According to Fludernik, Aphra Behn is not only the inventor of the consciousness scene, but "the first English writer to employ FID [free indirect discourse] in the representation of consciousness," albeit sparingly in larger passages of psycho-narration.39 As evidence, Fludernik cites a passage from Behn's "The History of the Nun" in which the character, Isabella, struggles to reconcile her individual desire with her religious duty. The scene of internal conflict is set up this way: "As soon as she was laid, without discoursing (as she us'd to do) to Katteriena, after they were in Bed, she pretended to be sleepy, and turning [End Page 170] from her settled her self to profound Thinking, and was resolv'd to conclude the Matter, between her Heart, and her Vow of Devotion, that Night[.]"40 Here Isabella's self-examination results from the fact that she cannot speak to her friend, and must thus commune with herself. The pattern of her thoughts that follow consists of attempts to justify breaking her vow of chastity in the name of love, and is represented with mental verbs couched in the present tense as well as with a line of free indirect discourse. Richardson's epistolary novels, of course, provide a scenario in which characters can relate their thoughts to a confidante while remaining in solitude. From Pamela, we have this editorial passage bridging two letters, explaining why Pamela embarks upon her correspondence:

We shall now leave the honest old pair praying for their dear Pamela, and return to the account she herself gives of all this; having written it journal-wise, to amuse and employ her time, in hopes some opportunity might offer to send it to her friends; and, as was her constant view, that she might afterwards thankfully look back upon the dangers she had escaped, when they should be happily overblown, as in time she hoped they would be; and that then she might examine, and either approve or repent of her own conduct in them.41

In recording her thoughts for her family, Pamela is also providing a record of her conduct, one which will better help her regulate it when she sees her thoughts laid out on the page. Pamela herself observes to her parents that a reason for writing is that she may read her letters when she visits them, the knowledge of which, "I hope, will further strengthen my good resolutions, that I may not hereafter, from my bad conduct, have reason to condemn myself from my own hand as it were."42 Turning to Richardson's later novel, Clarissa, we can see in a letter from the eponymous heroine to her friend Anne Howe the means by which reflection upon conduct was made immediate, in the process of writing to the moment:

But let me examine myself: Is not vanity, or secret love of praise, a principal motive with me at the bottom?—Ought I not to suspect my own heart? If I set up for myself, puffed up with every one's good opinion, may I not be left to myself?—Every one's eyes are upon the conduct, upon the visits, upon the visiters, of a young creature of our sex, made independent: And are not such subjected, more than any others, to the attempts of enterprisers and fortune-seekers?43 [End Page 171]

The phrase "let me examine myself" is the cue for a scene of self-scrutiny that takes place simultaneously with the act of narration, and it will later become a common inquit phrase for sections of thought representation. In opening up the recesses of her heart to her interlocutor, Clarissa examines the motivations for her conduct through a series of interrogatives that establishes a syntactic pattern of thought representation which could be transferred to the narrative method of third person, first in the form of an internal soliloquy, and then in the grammatical transformation into free indirect discourse. Joe Bray has argued that the epistolary novel in fact provides the generic source of dramatized consciousness in the third-person novel, pointing to how Harriet Byron in Sir Charles Grandison (1753) reflects on her past thoughts in free indirect style.44

In Fielding's Joseph Andrews, the eponymous character—a parodic transfictional brother of Pamela who zealously guards his virtue—does not soliloquize or review his conduct, demonstrating that a reversal of gender roles does not lead to the same sort of self-scrutiny. There is very little access to the interior in this novel; however, a consciousness scene is included for Lady Booby, a figure of fun who is rapaciously enamored of Joseph:

No sooner had Joseph left the room in the maner we have before related, than the lady, enraged at her disappointment, began to reflect with severity on her conduct. Her love was now changed to disdain, which pride assisted to torment her. She despised herself for the meanness of her passion, and Joseph for its ill success. However, she had now got the better of it in her own opinion, and determined to dismiss the object. After much tossing and turning in her bed, and many soliloquies, which if we had no better matter for our reader, we would give him; she at last rung the bell as above-mentioned, and was presently attended by Mrs Slipslop, who was not much better pleased with Joseph than the lady herself.45

We have here the inquit phrase of "reflect … on her conduct" as a cue for a consciousness scene which will become common throughout the century, followed by a brief summary of Lady Booby's reflection in a series of abstract nouns, and then the common rhetorical strategy of refusing to divulge the full extent of her self-communion because it is not considered important. However, the narrator does give us a full soliloquy towards the end of the novel, and it is one in which Lady Booby comes to a false and ephemeral resolution: [End Page 172]

Slipslop went away; and her mistress began to arraign her own conduct in the following manner:—'What am I doing? How do I suffer this passion to creep imperceptibly upon me? How many days are past since I could have submitted to ask myself the question?—Marry a footman! Distraction! Can I afterwards bear the eyes of my acquaintance?46

The soliloquy continues at length until Mrs. Slipsop interrupts to provide new information that causes Lady Booby to cast off her resolution to be done with Joseph. So, in the two dominant authors of the eighteenth century, we see how their differing methods of epistolary and epic narration establish the parameters of consciousness representation in scenes of women reviewing their conduct.

Fielding does not explore the minds of his characters in any depth, and certainly not his female characters. This may be a result of the gender of the narrator, though, rather than the mode of narration, since Eliza Haywood's 1751 novel, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless, has a highly intrusive narrator modelled on Fielding's, yet represents an important moment in the development of fictional consciousness. The opening to the novel establishes the authorial narrator as a source of wisdom for young ladies very much in the vein of conduct literature: "It was always my opinion, that fewer women were undone by love than vanity; and that those mistakes the sex are sometimes guilty of, proceed, for the most part, rather from inadvertency, than a vicious inclination."47 The narrator goes on to point out that "the ladies" are too willing to censure the conduct of others rather than reflect upon their own failings, suggesting there would be far less guilt and scandal "were some part of that time which is wasted at the toilette, in consulting what dress is most becoming to the face, employed in examining the heart, and what actions are most becoming of the character" (BT, 27). The novel revolves around its vain and coquettish protagonist attaining the same wisdom that infuses the gnomic statements outlined in the opening paragraph, and this wisdom, of course, can be attained only by examining the heart. Accordingly, its pages contain more scenes of private reflection and cogitation than any previous work of fiction. The main thread of these scenes is Betsy's constant struggle between her natural virtue and good sense and a streak of vanity that compels her to seek the attention of multiple men with no intention of marrying any. Here is a scene similar to the one involving Lady Booby in Joseph Andrews, except Betsy is not dealing with a rebuff but with an overly familiar letter from a suitor: [End Page 173]

Impossible it is to express the mingled emotions of shame, surprize, and indignation, which filled the breast of Miss Betsy, on reading this bold invitation; she threw the letter on the ground, she stamped upon it, she spurned it, and would have treated the author in the same manner, had he been present; but the first transports of so just a resentment being over, a consciousness of having, by a too free behaviour towards him, emboldened him to take this liberty, involved her in the utmost confusion, and she was little less enraged with herself, than she had reason to be with him. She could have tore out her very eyes for having affected to look kindly upon a wretch who durst presume so far on her supposed affection; and though she spared those pretty twinklers that violence, she half drowned their lustre in a deluge of tears.

(BT, 42–43)

This passage begins with the common trope of inexpressible emotion, before indexing this emotion through description of Betsy's observable action: stamping on the letter. However, the passage continues to chart her thoughts, particularly the shift that occurs when she realizes her own culpability. It is at this point we see the psycho-narration start to offer a more detailed and dynamic account of her consciousness. At first, this account is conventional—"She could have tore out her very eyes for having affected to look kindly upon a wretch"—a response the narrator seems to mock with the line "she spared those pretty twinklers that violence." However, this leads to a consciousness scene in which Betsy's self-scrutiny introduces greater complexity to her thoughts:

Never was a night passed in more cruel anxieties than what she sustained; both from the affront she had received, and the reflection that it was chiefly the folly of her own conduct which had brought it on her; and what greatly added to her vexation, was the uncertainty how it would best become her to act on an occasion which appeared so extraordinary to her. She had no friend whom she thought it proper to consult; she was ashamed to relate the story to any of the discreet and serious part of her acquaintance; she feared their reproofs for having counterfeited a tenderness for a man, which she was now sensible she ought, if it had been real, rather to have concealed with the utmost care both from him and all the world.

(BT, 43)

It is worth noting that Betsy feels unable to share her thoughts with anyone, unlike Richardson's Clarissa who reveals her heart to her correspondent, and so must internalize her self-examination. The psycho-narration becomes more empathetic and consonant with the deictic marker "which she was now sensible she ought" as the narrator seeks to trace her thoughts rather than summarize them, for the act [End Page 174] of her reviewing her conduct requires a representational mode that reveals her thoughts in the moment.

Such a reflection has no lasting effect, however, for she resolves nothing. It is not until toward the end of the novel, by which time she has been forced by family pressure into a disastrous marriage with a "domestic tyrant" (BT, 568) and suffered her fourth rape attempt (this time by a rapacious nobleman) that she is finally made conscious of her own complicity in her misfortune: "In fine, she now saw herself, and the errors of her past conduct, in their true light:—'How strange a creature have I been!' cried she, 'how inconsistent with myself! I knew the character of a coquet both silly and insignificant, yet did everything in my power to acquire it" (BT, 557–58). The soliloquy continues until the narrator tells us that: "In summing up this charge against herself, she found that all her faults and her misfortunes had been owing either to an excess of vanity;—a mistaken pride,—or a false delicacy" (BT, 558). Here Betsy comes to realize what the narrator has already informed us in the gnomic statement that opens the novel, or rather, she has internalized the voice of this public narrator. After this she is a changed woman, and having demonstrated her worth for having "fully corrected" the follies that stained her virtue, is rewarded, through a series of plot contrivances, with a miraculous reunification with Mr. Trueworth, a lover she had lost through her earlier vanity (BT, 634).

In The Rise of the Woman Novelist, Spencer argues that this interior monologue demonstrates a "concern with the inner self not found in Fielding's portrayal of Tom Jones, and an interest in the thoughtless young girl's moment of self-knowledge not paralleled even in Richardson's work."48 For Spencer, this novel and others like it "brought about a crucial shift in the novel's presentation of women, from the stasis of perfection or villainy to the dynamics of character change."49 Spencer locates Haywood's novel in a genre of the reformed heroine, a genre with which women novelists found literary acceptance by engaging with the model of femininity found in conduct literature and creating characters who could exercise their desire through coquetry before succumbing to marriage.

For Spencer, Austen inherits and develops this genre. Here is a passage from the key scene of Emma which has the same form as Betsy Thoughtless—the heroine pausing to review her conduct and realizing the folly of her behavior:

Emma's eyes were instantly withdrawn; and she sat silently meditating, in a fixed attitude, for a few minutes. A few minutes were sufficient [End Page 175] for making her acquainted with her own heart … Her own conduct, as well as her own heart, was before her in the same few minutes. She saw it all with a clearness which had never blessed her before. How improperly had she been acting by Harriet! How inconsiderate, how indelicate, how irrational, how unfeeling had been her conduct! What blindness, what madness, had led her on!50

The difference from Haywood's novel, of course, is that Emma's character-changing realization is rendered not as a soliloquy but as a passage of free indirect thought, with the characteristic grammatical transformation of the epiphanic ejaculations into third person. The shared language of conduct literature is clear, though, from Betsy's "false delicacy" to Emma's "indelicate" conduct, recalling Gregory's advice: "Now I do not wish you to affect delicacy; I wish you to possess it." The narrative voice may be muted in comparison to earlier novels, but it is vitally present in the sentence that bridges the shift from thought report to free indirect discourse: a sentence that demonstrates the narrator is repeating the soliloquy in a voice already blessed with the clearness that Emma had hitherto lacked. The relation between Emma's conduct and her own heart is the key here. Without proper awareness of her heart, she cannot properly regulate her conduct, and hence the importance of the internal method for narrating this awareness.

Histories of thought representation also typically reserve for special mention the genre of the Gothic that emerged in the period between Haywood's novel and Austen's, in which the mental states of extreme anxiety and distress lend themselves to psychological exploration, starting with Isabella's flight from Manfred in The Castle of Otranto (1764), in which the prose matches the rhythms of her agitation and, for John Bender, "arguably contains the first sustained use of free indirect discourse in English fiction."51 Again, a female character becomes the site for innovation in techniques of thought representation, this time in a moment of physical danger, rather than a moment of reflection. At the same time, however, we can see in Ann Radcliffe's enormously popular terror novels the same consciousness scene that had been developing in previous decades. For instance, in The Italian we have this passage: "Ellena willingly obeyed, and was led back to her cell, where she sat down pensively, and reviewed her conduct."52 And in The Mysteries of Udolpho we have this passage: [End Page 176]

Emily … walked in the garden; tried to compose her spirits, and, at length, arrived at her favourite pavilion at the end of the terrace, where, seating herself at one of the embowered windows, that opened upon a balcony, the stillness and seclusion of the scene allowed her to recollect her thoughts, and to arrange them so as to form a clearer judgment of her former conduct. She endeavoured to review with exactness all the particulars of her conversation with Valancourt at La Vallee, had the satisfaction to observe nothing, that could alarm her delicate pride, and thus to be confirmed in the self-esteem, which was so necessary to her peace.53

In both of these consciousness scenes, reported through psycho-narration and replete with the familiar words of "review," "conduct," and "delicate pride," each heroine feels assured of the virtue of her behavior. Radcliffe's contribution was twofold. First, to embed scenes of reflection in a character's ongoing perception of her own physical environment. Her heroines tend to find themselves locked in a room, afraid for their fate, with their thoughts oscillating between reviewing their moral conduct and surveying their surroundings. In The Mysteries of Udolpho, Emily's agitated state makes her susceptible to imaginary terrors around her, and she often seeks to explore these surroundings as a distraction from her moral quandaries. She examines doors, passageways and chambers in the same way she examines her heart, and Radcliffe tracks her thoughts as she moves through various locations. The analogy pursued in these scenes is that if Emily is wrong about the dangers of her surroundings, she may be wrong about the workings of her own heart. This leads to Radcliffe's second contribution, which was to domesticate the Gothic through the use of the "explained supernatural," following a pattern of the mistaken heroine that would provide an anxiety of influence for Austen's own novels. Austen's parody of Radcliffe in Northanger Abbey also demonstrates her own complex relationship with conduct books, evident from her celebrated defense of the novel as a genre that serves the purpose of moral instruction far more effectively than the sort of reading recommended by conduct books. While Austen's later novel, Pride and Prejudice, also parodied many assumptions of conduct literature in the figure of Mr. Bennett, its broader formal influence is clear in the structure of the consciousness scene she helped develop.

For Margaret Anne Doody, "[t]he discovery of style indirect libre as a dependable technique capable of consistent use marks the solution of the problem of uniting Richardson and Fielding, of giving both inner life and objective view," and in this comment she echoes Ian Watt's [End Page 177] earlier claim that Austen united Richardson's "reality of presentation" with Fielding's "reality of assessment."54 Doody attributes this new style to women writers who "sought a satisfactory third-person authoritative voice," and like many other scholars she credits Fanny Burney for pioneering this style before Austen.55 The connections between Burney's fiction and contemporaneous conduct literature has been amply demonstrated by Hemlow. Burney's contribution to the development of free indirect discourse, I suggest, lies less in combining the subjective voice of epistolary fiction with that of an authorial narrator than in effecting a shift from the dramatic convention of the internal soliloquy (in which a character's thoughts are quoted) to the indirect narratorial performance of the thoughts of a character. This transition can be seen especially in Camilla (1796), which includes consciousness scenes rendered both in traditional quoted soliloquies and in free indirect discourse.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century, debates about the representation of character centered around the growing predilection for minute psychological analysis, occasioning concern about the attendant neglect of plot.56 In this context, the psychological insight afforded by George Eliot's omniscient narration provides another celebrated articulation of female consciousness, and for Doody, Eliot is the inheritor of the stylistic innovations of the eighteenth-century novel in the hands of Burney. It is important to recall Doody's emphasis on the search by women writers for an authoritative omniscient voice capable of social commentary, for, despite growing distaste for authorial intrusions in the latter part of the nineteenth-century, Eliot's consciousness scenes rely upon the insightful presence of the narrator. Towards the end of Middlemarch Dorothea Brooke spends a night sobbing in anger over Will Ladislaw's perceived betrayal before crying herself to sleep. She wakes to what the narrator calls a "new condition," one in which she can use her grief to help her think more clearly:

She began now to live through that yesterday morning deliberately again, forcing herself to dwell on every detail and its possible meaning. Was she alone in that scene? Was it her event only? She forced herself to think of it as bound up with another woman's life—a woman towards whom she had set out with a longing to carry some clearness and comfort into her beclouded youth. In her first outleap of jealous indignation and disgust, when quitting the hateful room, she had flung away all the mercy with which she had undertaken that visit. She had enveloped both Will and Rosamond in her burning scorn, and it seemed to her as if Rosamond were burned out of her sight forever. But that base prompting which makes a woman more cruel to a rival than to [End Page 178] a faithless lover, could have no strength of recurrence in Dorothea when the dominant spirit of justice within her had once overcome the tumult and had once shown her the truer measure of things. All the active thought with which she had before been representing to herself the trials of Lydgate's lot, and this young marriage union which, like her own, seemed to have its hidden as well as evident troubles—all this vivid sympathetic experience returned to her now as a power: it asserted itself as acquired knowledge asserts itself and will not let us see as we saw in the day of our ignorance. She said to her own irremediable grief, that it should make her more helpful, instead of driving her back from effort.57

In this passage, the narrator sets up the consciousness scene by relating Dorothea's deliberate attempt to recall and scrutinize the events of the previous day, and embeds us in her perspective with two lines of free indirect discourse in the form of interrogatives. But the narrator then proceeds largely to retain an analytic distance, summarizing Dorothea's own reflections on her earlier behavior and offering a general account of her character, framed by a gnomic statement similar to those that form the opening to Besty Thoughtless: "that base prompting which makes a woman more cruel to a rival than to a faithless lover." Dorothea overcomes this fault in the act of self-communion, upon which returns "all this vivid sympathetic experience" which the narrator has asserted she possesses. Here Dorothea's review of her own conduct enables her to develop what Eliot considered the vital element of the genre of the novel: the sympathetic imagination. Whereas Betsy had to turn her scorn of others onto herself, here Dorothea must go further and think not only of herself, but of extending her insight to others. The passage continues to describe Dorothea's character and her desire to internalize "the perfect Right," leading to this line of internal soliloquy: "What should I do—how should I act now, this very day, if I could clutch my own pain, and compel it to silence, and think of those three?"58

The conduct scene persists throughout the nineteenth century and provides the model for further experiments in psychological analysis, most significantly in chapter 42 of The Portrait of a Lady. For Michael Gorra, while Henry James may have extended the experiments of earlier writers such as Eliot, this chapter is not simply different in degree, for, in avoiding a logically progressive list of ideas, "in the inconclusive and associative flow of Isabel's thoughts, and even in his sheer ability to sustain his account of those thoughts, James here goes so much further than his predecessors that it amounts to a difference in kind. No writer in English had yet offered so full an account of the inner life."59 [End Page 179]

Isabel's interior monologue that constitutes the entirety of the chapter is lauded for the intensity of its rendering of psychological complexity as she ruminates upon first the chemistry she shares with Lord Warburton, and then her unhappy marriage to Gilbert Osmond. There appears to be no authorial commentary, but the monologue is full of metaphors such as "But she had seen only half his nature then, as one saw the disk of the moon when it was partly masked by the shadow of the earth. She saw the full moon now—she saw the whole man."60 That these recurring metaphors must be attributed to the narrator rather than Isabel is made clear with the line: "When she saw this rigid system close about her, draped though it was in pictured tapestries, that sense of darkness and suffocation of which I have spoken took possession of her; she seemed shut up with an odour of mould and decay."61 This is the earlier passage to which the narrator refers:

She could live it over again, the incredulous terror with which she had taken the measure of her dwelling. Between those four walls she had lived ever since; they were to surround her for the rest of her life. It was the house of darkness, the house of dumbness, the house of suffocation. Osmond's beautiful mind gave it neither light nor air; Osmond's beautiful mind indeed seemed to peep down from a small high window and mock at her.62

The image of Osmond peeping down from a window conjures James's famous metaphor of the house of fiction (elaborated in the preface to this novel), and the authorial intrusion invites us to link this voice to what he called "the posted presence of the watcher" which is "the consciousness of the artist."63 According to Alice Gavin, "[s]uch occurrences read somewhat clumsily, like momentary eruptions of a more primitive narrative style. The intensity of Isabel's headiness is punctured. More importantly, however, these 'I's make us realize that our sense of this stream of thinking as being Isabel's—our sense that her thoughts are hers—is collusive with her solitude."64 Gavin goes on to trace the metaphors employed to describe Osmond, arguing that Isabel's sense of imprisonment in her husband's mind is paralelled by the narrative structure: "Henry's narrator gives Isabel her privacy not in the first but in the third person, in a language, therefore, not entirely her own. Utterly alone in the room, 'unapproached by another person,' her interior is still not simply transparent."65

At the same time, I would argue, this and subsequent addresses to the reader, lend a narratorial authority to the dissection of Osmond's mind that follows, aligning Isabel's recognition of his shortcomings [End Page 180] with the same omniscient insight capable of revealing her own mind: "The real offence, as she ultimately perceived, was her having a mind of her own at all. Her mind was to be his—attached to his own like a small garden-plot to a deer park."66 This scene of self-knowledge links to earlier in the novel when James's narrator notes: "But Isabel, who knew little of the sorts of artillery to which young women are exposed, flattered herself that such contradictions would never be noted in her own conduct. Her life should always be in harmony with the most pleasing impression she should produce; she would be what she appeared, and she would appear what she was."67 Again, the function of self-communion is to reconcile internal qualities with external conduct.

iv. from the conduct scene to the sex scene

If the consciousness scene of the eighteenth-century novel typically revolved around the thinking heroine's scrutiny of her sexual conduct, and particularly the extent to which her behavior may have been construed as vain or coquettish, the twentieth century witnesses two major innovations in modes of thought representation in two books charged with obscenity for the frankness and apparent licentiousness of their descriptions of sex: James Joyce's Ulysses (1922) and D. H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley's Lover. Molly Bloom's section at the end of Ulysses is notable for reintroducing the internal soliloquy in the form of an extended stream-of-consciousness quotation of her thoughts over the extent of a night. If Isabella in Behn's "The History of the Nun," lying in bed next to Katteriena and thinking, provides us with an early consciousness scene, we have a parallel in Molly lying in bed next to Leopold and thinking, not about a struggle between duty and desire, but about her and Bloom's infidelities. I will not dwell on this soliloquy here, rife as it is with the gendered assumptions that Molly both rails against and conforms to. Instead I will conclude by demonstrating how the sex scenes of Lady Chatterley's Lover operate as consciousness scenes that can be read as the end point of the tradition I have been tracing.

The book is largely focalized through Constance Chatterley, with some excursions into the thoughts of Mellors, the gamekeeper with whom she has an affair, and is formally striking both for its preponderance of free indirect discourse and the intrusive presence of the author. This presence makes itself felt most keenly in narratorial incursions into the characters' thoughts, rather than intrusive commentary in the [End Page 181] narration. The conflation of authorial and character view is present from the start as the book opens with a gnomic statement—"Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically"—which is elaborated over the course of a paragraph before the next paragraph begins: "This was more or less Constance Chatterley's position."68 The sense we get throughout the book is of never quite knowing which sentiments are more or less Connie's and which are more or less the narrator's as it shuttles between long sections of free indirect discourse and overtly didactic anti-industrial statements. In fact, this perspective, for Kate Millett, is what accounts for the insidious nature of the novel, embedding Lawrence's phallocentric view of female sexuality in the consciousness of the protagonist.69

The book's notoriety and significance results from it being the first work of serious literature to include graphic depictions of sex, but the sex scenes are structured as a progression towards Connie's awakening to the passion of life and the self-knowledge that comes with this awakening, and hence can be read equally as consciousness scenes. Each sex scene involves her thinking during the act of copulation and each scene brings her closer to a knowledge of herself, one that requires her in fact to transcend consciousness. For instance, in the passage quoted below, Connie is too self-conscious, too aware of her situation, to give herself up to pleasure:

And when he came into her, with an intensification of relief and consummation that was pure peace to him, still she was waiting. She felt herself a little left out. And she knew, partly it was her own fault. She willed herself into this separateness. Now perhaps she was condemned to it. She lay still, feeling his motion within her, his deep-sunk-intentness, the sudden quiver of him at the springing of his seed, then the slow-subsiding thrust. That thrust of the buttocks, surely it was a little ridiculous! If you were a woman, and apart in all the business, surely that thrusting of the man's buttocks was supremely ridiculous. Surely the man was intensely ridiculous in this posture and this act!

(LC, 126)

Notable in this passage is the curious conflation of author and character in the passage of free indirect discourse that captures Connie's sense of detachment. The grammar of the phrase "[i]f you were a woman" suggests (male) narratorial speculation about the ridiculous appearance of the scene from a woman's perspective when we are already cued to read this as Connie's thoughts. [End Page 182]

Tracing the progression of scenes, we see that Connie cannot be free while still she remains aware of her own activity. The more she gives herself up to Mellors, the more her thoughts and sensations are rendered in increasingly florid language that seeks to exceed consciousness in order to restore her to her body, resulting in mutual orgasm:

And she felt the soft bud of him within her stirring and in strange rhythms flushing up into her, with a strange, rhythmic growing motion, swelling and swelling till it filled all her cleaving consciousness. And then began again the unspeakable motion that was not really motion, but pure deepening whirlpools of sensation, swirling deeper and deeper through all her tissue and consciousness, till she was one perfect concentric fluid of feeling. And she lay there crying in unconscious, inarticulate cries, the voice out of the uttermost night, the life-exclamation.

(LC, 134)

The importance of this moment of orgasm is the collapse of thought into sensation so that Connie's consciousness becomes expanded and unshackled in a moment that cannot be rendered in free indirect discourse, because it is a moment that is both unconscious and inarticulate.

In situating these sex scenes as twentieth-century versions of the conduct scene, it is important to consider how they relate to Lawrence's view of the novel as a vehicle for moral instruction. One key passage in the book describes how Connie listens regularly to the nurse Mrs. Bolton gossiping to her husband Clifford about Tevershall village. "It was more than gossip," we are told; "It was Mrs. Gaskell and George Eliot and Miss Mitford all rolled in one, with a great deal more, that these women left out" (LC, 100). The section outlines Connie's continual wonder at the amount of intimate knowledge of people Mrs. Bolton possesses, before we have what can only be an incursion into her thoughts that becomes a point of departure for a defense of the novel:

Connie was fascinated, listening to her. But afterwards, always a little ashamed. She ought not to listen with this queer rabid curiosity. After all, one may hear the most private affairs of other people, but only in a spirit of fine, discriminative sympathy. For even satire is a form of sympathy. It is the way our sympathy flows and recoils that really determines our lives. And here lies the vast importance of the novel, properly handled. It can inform and lead into new places the flow of our sympathetic consciousness, and it can lead our sympathy away in recoil from things gone dead. Therefore the novel, properly handled, can reveal the most secret places of life: for it is in the passional secret places of life, above all, that the tide of sensitive awareness needs to ebb and flow, cleansing and freshening.

(LC, 101) [End Page 183]

Here we have an embedded authorial comment launching out from Connie's thoughts about gossip and outlining the value of the novel in what at first seems the familiar terms of the sympathetic imagination. The key phrase here is "secret places of life." Lawrence is not invoking the eighteenth-century "secret springs" which typically refers to the inner workings of the mind or sometimes the machinations of a plot. He is referring to a general buried passion for life and the capacity of the novel to cleanse and renew this passion. What is remarkable about the language of this version of the sympathetic imagination is that it is not reliant on psychological analysis in the tradition of Eliot (dismissed here as gossip); it is very much connected with the sort of raw consciousness of life that Connie experiences during sex (in "Apropos of Lady Chatterley's Lover," Lawrence describes this as "blood-sympathy" [LC, 326]). This becomes clear when we see the phrase "secret places" later used in reference to Connie's body. In one scene with Mellors we have the line "his finger-tips touched the two secret openings to her body, time after time, with a soft little brush of fire," followed up by "[h]e laid his hand close and firm over her secret places" (LC, 223).

The scene of anal sex that culminates in Connie's liberation as a woman begins as "a night of sensual passion" (LC, 246), and the connection with the earlier authorial comment about the value of the novel is made clear in this passage: "Burning out the shames, the deepest, oldest shames, in the most secret places. It cost her an effort to let him have his way and his will of her. She had to be a passive, consenting thing, like a slave, a physical slave. Yet the passion licked round her, consuming, and when the sensual flame of it passed through her bowels and breast, she really thought she was dying: yet a poignant, marvellous death" (LC, 247).

The whole section in fact reads less as a description of the sex act itself, and more as a summary of Connie's state of mind during the act, perhaps even of her thoughts lying next to Mellors after the event. The pattern of her thoughts is typical of the conduct scene—acknowledgement of her own shortcomings followed by self-revelation:

In this short summer night she learnt so much. She would have thought a woman would have died of shame. Instead of which, the shame died. Shame, which is fear: the deep organic shame, the old, old physical fear which crouches in the bodily roots of us, and can only be chased away by the sensual fire, at last it was roused up and routed by the phallic hunt of the man, and she came to the very heart of the jungle of herself. She felt, now, she had come to the real bed-rock of her [End Page 184] nature, and was essentially shameless. She was her sensual self, naked and unashamed. She felt a triumph, almost a vainglory. So! That was how it was! That was life! That was how oneself really was!

(LC, 247)

The syntactic pattern of Connie's thoughts also remains typical of the conduct scene: a summation of her thoughts over the course of a night, framed by a gnomic statement ("the old, old physical fear that crouches in the bodily roots of us") and culminating in a revelatory passage of free indirect discourse ("That was life!"). Here is the endpoint of the conduct scene. The self-revelation comes not from examining her heart and judging her own desires, but in having her body burnt of the sexual shame that has accumulated in industrialized society, the shame encoded in conduct books themselves that promote the natural chastity of women. The problem, of course, is that Connie's liberation must come at the expense of being passive, and giving up her own supposedly selfish desire to achieve orgasm of her own volition in order to participate in the democracy of touch that only the phallus can achieve.

The secret recesses of the heart which women were encouraged to discover through self-examination each night, and which it became the goal of the novelist to unlock, become in this book the secret places of the body (to feel with the womb and the bowels is the sign of authenticity for Lawrence) and the tension between internal desire and external conduct becomes a disjunction between thought and the body which separates the self from life. Of course, if Connie's awakening is achieved through sexual pleasure unburdened by shame, how does this position the reader? How does this demonstrate the importance of the novel, "properly handled"? If Lawrence was mocked for claiming that England could be regenerated by sex, in fact he was arguing that England could be regenerated by the novel, or more precisely, the novelistic representation of sex. In "Apropos of Lady Chatterley's Lover," Lawrence writes: "And this is the real point of this book. I want men and women to be able to think sex, fully, completely, honestly, and cleanly. Even if we can't act sexually to our complete satisfaction, let us at least think sexually, complete and clean" (LC, 308). This is the function of the sex scene as a consciousness scene.

Tracing the history of the conduct scene, we can see that the burden of avaricious male desire is placed on women: they must internalize the effects of this desire and question their own complicity and hence their own sense of self. Part of this self-scrutiny involves reflecting on their vanity and pride, and the effect of this on their relationships with [End Page 185] other women. Of course there are scenes of private communion by male characters, but these do not involve the same sort of judgement and self-discovery, the same policing of selfish motivations to guard against indelicacy, and certainly not the same sense of shame over sexually coded behavior. That the most significant soliloquies and interior monologues in English literary history have revolved around female characters demonstrates that, more than any other type of fictional mind, the heroine who reviews her conduct has contributed to the development of new modes of thought representation that mark the characteristic features of novelistic fictionality.

Paul Dawson
University of New South Wales

NOTES

1. Henry James, "Preface to The Portrait of a Lady," in The Art of the Novel: Critical Prefaces, ed. R. P. Blackmur (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1934), 57; Dorrit Cohn, Transparent Minds: Narrative Modes for Presenting Consciousness in Fiction (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press, 1978), 7.

2. Samuel Richardson, "Preface to Volume I of Clarissa Harlowe, 1747," in Novel and Romance 1700–1800: A Documentary Record (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1970), 117.

3. Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1987), 8.

4. Franco Moretti, "History of the Novel, Theory of the Novel," Novel: A Forum on Fiction 43.1 (2010): 3.

5. Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees: Abstract Models for a Literary Theory (London: Verso, 2005), 82.

6. Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees, 82. Other historical explanations have linked the development of free indirect discourse to the simultaneous emergence of modern literacy, the panopticon, common sense, and the philosophy of sympathy. See, respectively: Ann Banfield, Unspeakable Sentences: Narration and Representation in the Language of Fiction (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1982); John Bender, Imagining the Penitentiary: Fiction and the Architecture of Mind in Eighteenth-Century England (Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press, 1987); Julie Choi, "Feminine Authority? Common Sense and the Question of Voice in the Novel," New Literary History 27.4 (1996); Clara Tuite, Romantic Austen: Sexual Politics and the Literary Canon (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002); and Rae Greiner, Sympathetic Realism in Nineteenth-Century British Fiction (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2012).

7. See Monika Fludernik, The Fictions of Language and the Languages of Fiction: The Linguistic Representation of Speech and Consciousness (London: Routledge, 1993); Alan Palmer, Fictional Minds (Lincoln: Nebraska Univ. Press, 2004); Lisa Zunshine, Why We Read Fiction: Theory of Mind and the Novel (Columbus: Ohio State Univ. Press, 2006); and The Emergence of Mind: Representations of Consciousness in Narrative Discourse, ed. David Herman (Lincoln: Nebraska Univ. Press, 2011).

8. Moretti, Graphs, Maps, Trees, 82.

9. John Gregory, A Father's Legacy to his Daughters (Dublin: Thomas Ewing and Caleb Jenkin, 1774), 32.

10. Fludernik, Towards a "Natural" Narratology (London: Routledge, 1996), 158.

11. Arthur Freeling, The Young Bride's Book: Being Hints for Regulating the Conduct of Married Women (London: Henry Washbourne, 1839), 64.

12. Charles Reade, Griffith Gaunt; Or, Jealousy (Boston: Ticknor and Fields, 1866), 13–14.

13. Ingrid H. Tague, Women of Quality: Accepting and Contesting Ideals of Femininity in England, 1690–1760 (Suffolk: The Boydell Press, 2002), 32.

14. Gregory, 5.

15. Gregory, 21.

16. Hester Chapone, Letters on the Improvement of the Mind, Addressed to a Young Lady (Wellington: Houlston and Son, 1809), 53. See Marjorie Morgan, Manners, Morals and Class in England, 1774–1858 (Houndsmill: Macmillan Press, 1994).

17. Jacques Carré, "Introduction," in The Crisis of Courtesy: Studies in the Conduct-Book in Britain, 1600–1900, ed. Carré (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1994), 2.

18. Nancy Armstrong, Desire and Domestic Fiction: A Political History of the Novel (New York: Oxford Univ. Press, 1987), 60. See also Joyce Hemlow, "Fanny Burney and the Courtesy Books," PMLA 65.5 (1950): 732–61; Mary Poovey, The Proper Lady and the Woman Writer: Ideology as Style in the Works of Mary Wollstonecraft, Mary Shelley, and Jane Austen (Chicago: Chicago Univ. Press, 1984); and Jane Spencer, The Rise of the Woman Novelist: From Aphra Behn to Jane Austen (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1986).

19. Tim McLoughlin, "Fielding's Essay on Conversation: A Courtesy Guide to Joseph Andrews?", in The Crisis of Courtesy, 93.

20. Wetenhall Wilkes, A Letter of Genteel and Moral Advice to a Young Lady (London: C. Hitch, 1746), 72–73.

21. Wilkes, 76.

22. William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair: A Novel without a Hero (London: Penguin, 2001), 171.

23. Catherine Gallagher, "The Rise of Fictionality," in The Novel, 2 vol., ed. Moretti (Princeton: Princeton Univ. Press. 2006), 1:345.

24. William Craig, "Untitled. The Mirror, No. 31 (May 11, 1779)," in Novel Definitions: An Anthology of Commentary on the Novel, 1688–1815, ed. Cheryl L. Nixon (Ontario: Broadview Press, 2009), 196.

25. Craig, 196.

26. William Warburton, "Preface to Volume III of Clarissa Harlowe, 1748," in Novel and Romance 1700–1800: A Documentary Record, ed. Ioan Williams (Abingdon: Routledge, 2011), 124.

27. Sarah Fielding and Jane Collier, The Cry: A New Dramatic Fable (Dublin: George Faulkner, 1754), 7.

28. Fielding and Collier, 9.

29. Fielding and Collier, 10.

30. Fielding and Collier, 10–11.

31. Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, A Foundling (London: Penguin Classics, 2005), 177.

32. Fielding, 186.

33. Fielding, 648.

34. Fielding, 646.

35. Thomas Marriot, Female Conduct: Being an Essay on the Art of Pleasing. To be Practiced by the Fair Sex, Before, and After Marriage (London: W. Owen, 1759), 84–85.

36. Anna Laetitia Barbauld, "Life of Samuel Richardson with Remarks on his Writing," The Correspondence of Samuel Richardson: Selected from the Original Manuscripts Bequeathed by Him to His Family: To Which Are Prefixed a Biographical Account of That Author and Observations on His Writing, 6 vol., ed. Barbauld (London: Richard Phillips, 1804), 1: xxiii.

37. Adam Smith, The Theory of Moral Sentiments, ed. Knud Haakonssen (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ. Press, 2002), 129.

38. Greiner argues that the sympathetic realism of the nineteenth century novel formally instantiates Smith's impartial spectator in the technique of free indirect discourse, facilitated by an omniscient narrator.

39. Fludernik, Towards a "Natural" Narratology, 155.

40. Quoted in Fludernik, Towards a "Natural" Narratology, 154.

41. Richardson, Pamela, Or Virtue Rewarded (London: Penguin Classics, 1985), 129–30.

42. Richardson, Pamela, 75.

43. Richardson, Clarissa: Or the History of a Young Lady (London: Penguin Classics, 1985), 104–5.

44. See Joe Bray, "The Source of 'Dramatized Consciousness': Richardson, Austen, and Stylistic Influence," Style 35.1 (2001): 18–32.

45. Fielding, Joseph Andrews (San Francisco: Rineheart Press, 1948), 18–19.

46. Fielding, Joseph Andrews, 327.

47. Eliza Haywood, The History of Miss Betsy Thoughtless (Ontario: Broadview Press, 1998), 27. Hereafter abbreviated BT and cited parenthetically by page number.

48. Spencer, 152.

49. Spencer, 141.

50. Jane Austen, Emma (London: Penguin Classics, 2003), 382.

51. John Bender, Ends of Enlightenment (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 2012), 106.

52. Ann Radcliffe, The Italian, or the Confessional of the Black Penitents: A Romance (London: Penguin, 2004), 100.

53. Radcliffe, The Mysteries of Udolpho (London: Penguin Classics, 2001), 488.

54. Margaret Anne Doody, "George Eliot and the Eighteenth-Century Novel," Nineteenth-Century Fiction 35.3 (1980): 289; Ian Watt, The Rise of the Novel: Studies in Defoe, Richardson and Fielding (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1957): 338.

55. Doody, 261.

56. For an overview of these debates see Kenneth Graham, English Criticism of the Novel 1865–1900 (Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 1965).

57. George Eliot, Middlemarch (London: Penguin Classics, 1994), 788.

58. Eliot, 788.

59. Michael Gorra, Portrait of a Novel: Henry James and the Making of an American Masterpiece (New York: Liveright Publishing, 2012), 236.

60. James, The Portrait of a Lady (The Everyman Library. London: J. M. Dent, 1995), 421.

61. James, Portrait of a Lady, 426.

62. James, Portrait of a Lady, 424.

63. James, "Preface," 46.

64. Alice Gavin, "Thinking Room and Thought Streams in Henry and William James," Textual Practice 26.5 (2012): 877.

65. Gavin, 878.

66. James, Portrait of a Lady, 426.

67. James, Portrait of a Lady, 62.

68. D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover (London: Penguin Classics, 2000), 5. Hereafter abbreviated LC and cited parenthetically by page number.

69. See Kate Millett, Sexual Politics (New York: Avon Books, 1970), 239.

Additional Information

ISSN
1080-6547
Print ISSN
0013-8304
Pages
161-188
Launched on MUSE
2019-03-06
Open Access
No
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