Meaning and Signs in Fiction by Alan Kennedy

By Alan Kennedy

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By Alan Kennedy

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Davis goes on to argue that the 'playacting' is acceptable because it is the only means of enacting an ideal. Implicit in this of course is the suggestion that play-acting that does not enact an ideal, hollow play-acting, will be unacceptable. He believes that what happens between the end of Elizabethan fiction and the emergence of the novel is the disappearance of the ideal. Although he does not make the point, his argument is exactly the one needed to account for the fact that as soon as the novel begins, it shows an uncommon interest in the figure of the hypocrite: the play-actor who is not enacting an ideal.

We may get some clue from the external clothing, indeed we have no other choice but to assume that the signals are meaningful, until we can interpret them, or see beyond them. The narrative irony begins to suggest that the coincidence of inner and outer, or Love and Duty, is not such an easy matter as romances suggest. As this parodic romance approaches a satisfactory conclusion, instances of irony become more common. The 'content' of the story is repeatedly asserted to be so much better than what is presented to the reader.

Like Jaggers he is able to exist at the magical crossing point of the public and private worlds, where the tension between the two is productive of an access of power, a power quite unlike Tul- 38 Meaning and Signs in Fiction kinghorn's because it works towards the publishing of secrets rather than the hoarding up of them. Vholes and Tulkinghorn are totally identified by their roles in society, however, and the metaphors of clothing serve to inform us of the cost of such an acquired identity. Vholes is more interesting in this respect, although the rusty and uncommunicative clothing of Tulkinghorn is mentioned very often in the story.

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