A journey towards the unknown : navigating the self in the works of Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe, Richardson’s Pamela and Burney’s Evelina
Pinto, Gillian Clare
Date of Issue2015
School of Humanities and Social Sciences
In studying the construction of the eighteenth-century novel as an exploration of the world we live in, this paper will argue that when authors fabricate “realistic” individual experience, readers travel with characters to discover the self as a constantly evolving entity, characterised by a subjective, limited, unique perspective of the world. If our exploration of the world is constantly altered by our daily experiences, there can be no singular, universal reality but a multiplicity of realities, worlds, selves that we encounter endlessly. The breath-taking abundance of ‘me’s that the characters encounter in discovering their relation to the world parallels the reader’s own introspection upon reading the texts, developing the novel as a way of looking at the world as a realm of possibilities. I will use Daniel Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe (1719) Samuel Richardson’s Pamela (1740) and Frances Burney’s Evelina (1778) to depict how the re-imagining of a familiar reality recreates, represents and redefines the idea of a ‘self’ in the text, foregrounding the subjectivity of human perspective through the juxtaposition of internal and external realities. These artificial worlds become sites of self-discovery, creating a place for readers to inhabit the headspace of the characters, wherein we discover the dichotomy between their private and public identities.
Final Year Project (FYP)
Nanyang Technological University