Date of this Version
The George Eliot Review 16 (1985)
The art of representing feeling within a fictional character, and of eliciting response from the reader, was well understood by the great Victorian novelists. Their methods were so successful that the characters they created and the emotional experiences they described affect today's readers as powerfully as the readers of their own time.
In this study, Professor Barbara Hardy examines the forms and languages used by various authors to represent feeling, to analyse it, and to manipulate readers' responses. She begins by considering the techniques of some earlier writers from which developed the more 'realistic' Victorian forms of fiction. She chooses quotations which invite the reader to return to the novels with a mind sharpened by her acute observations.
Professor Hardy shows Dickens presenting passionate feelings in fairly crude theatrical form. "He is better on jealousy, pride, revulsion, fury, fear, gluttony and sloth, than on love." When the mature Dickens applies control and restraint, he is more successful, and more analytical, in his representation of the emotions.