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The Conflicting Discourses of the Drawing-Room

Anthony Trollope and Edmond and Jules de Goncourt

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Elissa Heil

Focusing on the social discourses in Anthony Trollope's Barchester Towers and Edmond and Jules de Goncourt's Renée Mauperin, particularly the dialogic exchanges of the drawing-room, this study offers significant insights into the usefulness of Bakhtinian theory. It reveals how the various levels of discourse operate in the texts and, consequently, how they relate to their social contexts determined by well-defined gender demarcations within the bourgeois ideological paradigm. The drawing-room of the nineteenth century provides a lively forum for society to voice its ideals and expectations. This study examines those ideals and their limitations, the social discourses of the texts as they operate in the chronotope of the drawing-room, and the extent to which these narratives undermine social expectations.