I will think about how typographic conventions for speech representations in the eighteenth century influenced on the development of Free Indirect Discourse [FID] of this period.
FID for both speech and thought presentations is generally regarded as a style which enables smooth shifts between the narrative and dialogues/thoughts in the third person narrative. The reader is guided by the author/narrator to read the passage presented in FIS smoothly, thanks to its lack of quotation marks as well as the verb of saying and the attribution of the subject (such as ‘Tom said/thought’), while it retaining the third person and the past tense in the same manner as in the narrative. Modernist writers employed FID in combination with other styles for ‘the stream of consciousness’ so that the reader can feel closely with the protagonist’s train of thoughts. Virginia Woolf is one of the most successful writers in the experiment of this narrative technique. M. B. Parkes, an authority in palaeography, states that ‘Woolf exercises greater control [than her precursors] over her readers’ responses by means of punctuation.’(1) In the passages presented in FID, the narrator does not intervene in the reader but silently encourages her to experience a character’s inner thoughts.
Although the standard of FID is thus characterized by the absence of quotation marks, passages presented in Free Indirect Discourse for speech presentations [FIS] in Jane Austen’s works are sometimes enclosed with quotation marks. FID passages have an ambiguous voice of the narrator and a character conflated with. However, when FID is used for an apparent speech of a character (chiefly within a dialogue with other characters), in order to help the reader to recognize the embedded speech, quotation marks are used to make the part more visibly distinct to the reader.
In the explanation about the influences on the application of punctuation, Parkes states that ‘[i]n nineteenth- and twentieth-century novels the writer sets out to exploit the possibilities of the written medium in order to create an illusion’.(2) He continues,
The illusion achieved in a novel is the product of literary and linguistic conventions, among which the simulation of spoken discourse figures prominently. The author appears to be less intrusive when he or she exploits a character as a chosen focus of consciousness. However, the written medium had become so independent of that of the spoken medium, having its own complex of conventions, that the expectation that one could represent spoken discourse in a work of fiction was itself an illusion. (3)
According to Parkes, authors of nineteenth century fictions and onwards have been aware of the limit of the novel as a written form, and expected readers to reconstruct discourse within their minds. Graphic devices and punctuation marks are used for the purpose of aiding readers’ comprehension. Parkes further gives an example from a...