Edited By Jadwiga Wegrodzka
Character in the academic mystery novel: Joanne Dobson’s The Raven and the Nightingale
Literary characters are constructs bound to a fictional world they inhabit. Influenced by situations they encounter and actions they perform, witness, or simply refer to, fictional characters are also inseparable from the plot. James Phelan admits that while working out his rhetorical methodology he felt a strong temptation to analyse a literary character in isolation, yet eventually he “ended by mixing up the study of character with the study of the [progression]” (Phelan 1989: ix). The term progression that Phelan introduces in his theses on character is found preferable and more telling than ‘plot’, as it foregrounds “a narrative as a dynamic event” (1989: 15). Character and progression are, in his opinion, so closely interrelated that any attempt to separate one from the other in the analysis of fictional characters would inevitably lead to simplification of the multiple roles played by protagonists. Whereas the traditional, separatist analysis of character is usually limited to enumeration of the character’s significant traits and skills, or at best to classifying it/him/her as dynamic or static, Phelan’s rhetorical analysis allows us to observe and comment on the interplay of various dimensions and functions that fluctuate and metamorphose, which exerts a dynamising effect on the progression in the work of fiction. Phelan applies his rhetorical approach to elucidate how in the course of narrative progression different dimensions of character turn or fail to turn into functions. The taxonomy of character’s dimensions and functions in reference to the three components...
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