Articulating class : language and conflict in English literature from Gaskell to Tressell

Abstract :

Examines various ways in which class conflict inheres within the language of English literary texts written between the 1830s and 1914, particularly as far as the representation of working-class speech is concerned. The study examines the social role of standard English” and its relationship to forms of English stigmatised as inadequate. It is argued that the frequent charges of “silence and “inarticulateness” against the working-class in this literature should be understood as an ideological attempt to silence that class’s voice. That “voice is shown in the writings of Thomas Carlyle, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charles Reade, Arthur Morrison, George Gissing, Edwin Pugh and Walter Besant as speaking revolutionary violence. Generally, the working-class is shown as silent and apathetic, with the articulateness of “agitators” shown as dangerous and contemptible. Interpretations of proletarian silence in the writings of CFG Masterman are discussed. The history of the phoneticisation of working-class speech in literature is described. The influential work of Rudyard Kipling is discussed. Inconsistency, a concern for linguistically meaningless display, and inaccuracy can be found in most of the slum fiction of the 1880s and 90s. GB Shaw is considered in this context. Attention is paid to the significance of “standard” English in relation to contemporary concerns with culture and education. Close analysis is made of writings by Gissing, revealing the textual clash between the language of the working class and the educated language of the narrator. The representation of workers as writers is considered. In works by Edith Ostlere, Annie Wakeman, Clarence Rook and Edwin Pugh, writing is a particular form of control over language. Robert Tressell’s Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and Henry Nevinson’s Neighbours of Ours are analysed to examine the implications of the use of established literary forms and conventions by socialist writers.



Author James TJ
Date Accessioned 2016-09-22T09:12:15Z
Date Available 2016-09-22T09:12:15Z
Date Created 1988
Identifier URL 1992
Language English
Subject English literature
Subject 2 English literature
Alternative Title
Degree Type Doctoral degree
Degree Description  PhD