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1. Free Indirect Discourse
2. Free Indirect Discourse in Selected Novels
2.1 Jane Austen: Emma
2.2 Henry James: Portrait of a Lady
2.3 Virginia Woolf: Orlando
2.4 James Joyce: Dubliners and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man
4.1 Primary Literature
4.2 Secondary Literature
5. Appendix: Selected Definitions
At the turn of the twentieth century German and French Linguists first mentioned the free indirect discourse (FID) while analysing Flaubert's use of the French imperfect tense. (Cf. Fludernik, 2001). FID allows the author to embed the voice of the character into the voice of the narrator's voice (cf. Cobley, 2001). The character's "habit of speech" (ibid.), its "mode of thought and speech" (Fludernik, 2001: 1), its syntax and diction (cf. Nünning, 2004) are represented without using direct speech; hence, there are no quotation marks (cf. Cobley, 2001). Nevertheless, "features of direct speech (direct questions, exclamations, fragments, repetitions, deictics, emotive and conative words, overstatements, colloquialisms) [are present]." (Fleischman, 1990: 227f; cf. Nünning, 2004).
However, the discourse is reported in the "fashion of indirect speech" (Fleischman, 1990: 228), or, at least, it is related to indirect speech (cf. Nünning, 2004), as tense-shifts are "in accordance with the basic tense of the report frame" (Fludernik, 2001: 1; cf. Nünning, 2004). Hence, the "transposition of the future into the conditional" (Bally [1912, 1914] in Herman: 1995: 143) is a necessity and pronouns are adapted to the 3rd person narrator (cf. Fleischman, 1990), or more precisely to the actual narrating mode (cf. Nünning, 2004). However, "characteristic inquit formulas of indirect speech, such as 'X said/thought that …, wondered why, ... '" (Fleischmann, 1990: 228) are absent (cf. Schneider, 2003; cf. Marinez/ Scheffel, 1999; cf. Nünning, 2004) and adverbials of time of place are used like in direct speech (cf. ibid.); in other words, they are relative to the character.
FID is usually contrasted with DD and ID by the above mentioned markers. The following simplified tableau shall give an overview:
free indirect discourse direct discourse indirect discourse
tense shift (to past) no tense shift tense shift
future to conditional no tense shift future to conditional
no subordination no subordination subordination
no inquit formulas --- inquit formulas
3rd-person pronouns (rel. to narrating mode) all pronouns 3rd-person pronouns
adv. of time a. place relative to character adv. of time/place relative to ch. adv. o. time/place relativ to narr.
questions, exclamations, questions, exclamations, not common
fragments, repetitions, fragments, repetitions,
deictics, emotive a. conative deictics, emotive a. conative
words, overstatements, words, overstatements,
no imitation imitation no imitations
no evaluation no evaluation evaluation
However, as "syntax alone can not specify what sets FID apart from DD [direct discourse] and ID [indirect discourse]" (Herman, 1995: 143), many scholars refer to the 'context' of the discourse in question. The difficulties to explicitly specify FID reflect upon the ambiguity of FID, especially concerning the source of the discourse:
FID passages, unless clearly marked by syntactic or lexical features, are therefore ambiguous concerning the question of whether in a given passage there is speech or thought representation implied and, if there is, who might be the author of that speech or thought act and whether the represented discourse was uttered aloud or merely part of a sequence of internal thought. (Fludernik, 2001: 1)
While the author may switch between all three styles of narration, the originality of the discourse (narrating authority or character, and which character) is not always clear and constitutes the ambiguity. Nevertheless, in FID the subjectivity of the remark or thought and the individual style of the character are more apparent than in ID (cf. Nünning, 2004). In employing FID instead of DD, the narration becomes less detached while the narrator is noticeably refrained from its authoritative position (cf. Schneider, 2003).
In contrast to the techniques of "stream of consciousness" and "interior monologue", the style is usually grammatically not as incorrect (cf. Nünning, 2004). Additionally, the narrating authority and the experiencing character are not that clearly distinguished in FID concerning the mode of speaking and the place (cf. Martinez/Scheffel, 1999).
Many scholars refer to Jane Austen as the first English novelist "to use free indirect speech in a significant and deliberate manner." (Wikipedia, 20.03.07) Austen uses FID in order to transfer opinions and feelings of the protagonists, while usually employing a third person narrator. Various passages in Emma, for instance, obviously express Emma's opinion, while the reader – led by the omniscient narrator – might have gained quite a different idea.
This becomes already clear in the first chapters, when Emma plans to refine Harriet Smith' manners and tastes and to make a match for her with Mr. Elton. Harriet, however, seems to have taken a liking to Mr. Robert Martin, a young and well-settled farmer, who, in the course of the narration, proposes to her. The reader is likely to estimate Mr. Martin as a suitable husband for Harriet. This is done by various means, e.g. by the reader's general knowledge of Harriet's and of Mr. Martin's situation, by Harriet's descriptions of Robert Martin, even by the information the reader gains from Emma, and not at least by Mr. Knightley's judgement on the subject (54f), whose opinion the reader is supposed to regard as reliable. The underlined discourses in the following examples, however, are in contrast to this evaluation and, therefore, appear unlikely to originate in the omniscient narrator. They obviously constitute Emma's opinion as the attachment disturbs her plans:
For some time she [Emma] was amused, without thinking beyond the immediate cause; but as she came to understand the family [the Martins] better, other feelings arose. She had take up a wrong idea, fancying it was a mother and a daughter, a son and son's wife, who all lived together; but when it appeared that the Mr. Martin, who bore a part in the narrative, and was always mentioned with approbation for his great good-nature in doing something or other, was a single man – that there was no young Mrs. Martin, no wife in the case – she did suspect danger to her poor little friend from all this hospitality and kindness, and that, if she were not taken care of, she might be required to sink herself for ever. (24)
Although Mr. Martin is described from Emma's point of view, the reader might form the opinion that Mr. Martin is a good-natured, kind and hospitable man. However, Emma talks Harriet into a refusal.
"[…] If you prefer Mr. Martin to every other person, if you think him the most agreeable man you have ever been in company with, why should you hesitate? You blush, Harriet. Does anybody else occur to you at this moment under such a definition? Harriet, Harriet, do not deceive yourself; do not be run away with by gratitude and compassion. At this moment whom are you thinking of?"
The symptoms were favourable. Instead of answering, Harriet turned away confused, and stood thoughtfully by the fire […]. (48)
By now, the reader can conclude that Harriet's refusal is neither favourable to Harriet nor to Mr. Elton, only to Emma and her plans.
These examples convey the ambiguity of the discourses: The reader can only verify the source of the discourses by the knowledge of the context and not by grammatical means alone, although the style in the underlined passages is far more idiomatic as in the narrated passages. The transition to FID is smooth and not clearly marked. So, in the first example, the beginning of FID could also be ascertained earlier.
Although in Henry James' The Portrait of a Lady many passages of FID may be found, a single quotation of Ralph reflecting upon Isabella shall suffice to illustrate James' mastery of a smooth transition between the different styles of narration:
 Beside FID the terms "free indirect style", "free indirect speech", "narrated monologue", "erlebte Rede" (ger.) and "style indirect libre" (fr.) also refer to the same technique. However, free indirect discourse is the most frequently used term.
 See also: " E.R. erlaubt es daher in einer auktorialen Erzählsituation, Elemente der Ich-Erzählung zu nutzen […]." (Nünning, 2004: 154) "[…] the words or thoughts of the character are translated into the discourse of the narrator […]." (Fleischman, 1990:228)
 Herman refers inter alia to Cohn (1978), McHale (1978), Pascal (1977), Volosinov (1929), Bakhtin (1929), and exposes the difficulties to specify 'the context'.
 In this chapter, the quotations that refer to the narration of the respective sub-chapter are indicated with the number of the page in brackets only.
 See also: Daniel P. Gunn: 2004, 35.
 Unfortunately, it would go beyond the scope of this paper to verify these statements. The reader may kindly rely on these assumptions for now.
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