A Matter of Life and Death: The Auditor-Function of the Dramatic Monologue

A Matter of Life and Death: The Auditor-Function of the Dramatic Monologue HELEN LUU otwithstanding the critical consensus to agree to disagree on the definition of the dramatic monologue, the question of the auditor's function in the genre seems more central to our understanding of the form than has hitherto been acknowledged.1 As the critical history of the auditor shows, the auditor is a defining feature of the dramatic monologue not only because how one theorizes the genre depends significantly on how one theorizes the auditorfunction, but conversely because how one theorizes the auditor-function significantly alters one's theory of the dramatic monologue. For instance, where the genre is defined as gratuitous speech serving the monologist's purpose of self-understanding or the genre's purpose of self-revelation, the auditor is deemed to be superfluous. This is as true of theories that define the genre by its effect of ironic character revelation--that is, the unintended revelation of the speaker's hidden self or true character--as it is of theories that define the genre by its challenge to that view of a hidden, essential, and authentic self. For the latter, the genre is defined not by its revelation of the speaker's self, but by its revelations about the speaking self: that it is not the unified, http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Victorian Poetry West Virginia University Press

A Matter of Life and Death: The Auditor-Function of the Dramatic Monologue

Victorian Poetry, Volume 54 (1) – May 22, 2016

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Publisher
West Virginia University Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 West Virginia University.
ISSN
1530-7190
Publisher site
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Abstract

HELEN LUU otwithstanding the critical consensus to agree to disagree on the definition of the dramatic monologue, the question of the auditor's function in the genre seems more central to our understanding of the form than has hitherto been acknowledged.1 As the critical history of the auditor shows, the auditor is a defining feature of the dramatic monologue not only because how one theorizes the genre depends significantly on how one theorizes the auditorfunction, but conversely because how one theorizes the auditor-function significantly alters one's theory of the dramatic monologue. For instance, where the genre is defined as gratuitous speech serving the monologist's purpose of self-understanding or the genre's purpose of self-revelation, the auditor is deemed to be superfluous. This is as true of theories that define the genre by its effect of ironic character revelation--that is, the unintended revelation of the speaker's hidden self or true character--as it is of theories that define the genre by its challenge to that view of a hidden, essential, and authentic self. For the latter, the genre is defined not by its revelation of the speaker's self, but by its revelations about the speaking self: that it is not the unified,

Journal

Victorian PoetryWest Virginia University Press

Published: May 22, 2016

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