[H]ere was one room ; there another : tracing relations between self and other in Woolf and Bakhtin ; and, So, I called myself Pip : voice, authority, and the monological self in Great expectations

UNCG Author/Contributor (non-UNCG co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Michael R. Bedsole (Creator)
The University of North Carolina at Greensboro (UNCG )
Web Site: http://library.uncg.edu/
Keith Cushman

Abstract: "This first paper examines Virginia Woolf's understanding of the relationship between self and other as expressed in Jacob's Room and Mrs. Dalloway. Because Woolf only indirectly articulates her ideas regarding the interconnections between individuals, this paper juxtaposes Woolf with the Russian literary theorist Mikhail Bakhtin to better illustrate her ideas, as her conceptualizations prove antithetical to Bakhtin's. While Bakhtin maintains that individuals do not exist as solitary monads, but only in dialogic relation to each other, Woolf intimates otherwise. Asserting that individuals remain incomprehensible to one another, stressing the solitary nature of individual experience, and emphasizing the narratives people generate which complicate the ways in which they engage others, Woolf suggests that individuals remain fundamentally estranged from one another. In short, Woolf sees only an isolating incommunicability of consciousness between individuals. Ultimately, Woolf's understanding of the relation between self and other is predicated on her view that selves possess an inviolable, elusive core which exists prior to the self's social instantiation. This second paper explores the ways in which Great Expectations challenges Mikhail Bakhtin's understanding of the relationship between individuals, emphasizing that Bakhtin ultimately overlooks the power struggles characterizing their interactions. Whereas Bakhtin privileges dialogical discourse over monological, assuming that individuals engage one another largely in good faith, Great Expectations reveals a world within which individuals aggressively superimpose their own perspectives over others. In particular, as Great Expectations is Pip's tale told by Pip himself, so the novel reveals the inescapable centrality of Pip's voice as he is empowered to represent both himself and others. This paper argues that Pip, in representing himself in his own story, does not dialogue with the other characters in the narrative; rather, he reacts to them, engaging them largely in relation to his own singular desires. In short, positing a model of the self much less dialogical than agonistic, Great Expectations suggests that selves attempt to author themselves not in open dialogical response to others, but through monological evasions and negations of them."--Abstract from author supplied metadata.

Additional Information

Language: English
Date: 2006
Virginia Woolf, self, Jacob's Room, Mrs. Dalloway, Mikhail Bakhtin, Great Expectations
Woolf, Virginia,--1882-1941--Criticism and interpretation
Bakhtin, M. M.--(Mikhail Mikhai?lovich),--1895-1975 --Criticism and interpretation
Dickens, Charles,--1812-1870.--Great expectations
Dickens, Charles,--1812-1870.--Criticism and interpretation
Dickens, Charles,--1812-1870.--Characters--Pip
Self in literature

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