In the spirit of sort of wrapping things up as the semester comes to an end, I thought I'd make a post about the various threads and themes I've assimilated this semester. I think I've
learned a lot not only about the material we've been studying, but how it relates more personally to how I approach the novel. I suppose it's been established that I have a very gendered approach to assimilating material. In earlier classes, I think I viewed that as more of a detriment than an asset, in that every time I approached a piece of literature, I would invariably find myself interpreting it from a gendered position, in terms of exploring language, power, and gender relations without the literature. Now, however, I feel that that is rightfully the focus of my approach, rather than a "rut" that I'm stuck in.
Also, I feel like I understand how important it is to acknowledge audience expectations in interpreting literature. In saying that the pieces we've been examining do or do not conform to the expectations of the novel, we are not so much making a quantitatively true statement about the novel as we are making a statement about our expectations for the novel. I think understanding that is the key to exploring the genre and its development.
Soooooooo, I feel that this class has helped me not only refine (and accept) my own particular viewpoint, and understand how my expectations affect how I understand literature.
As this relates to what we're discussing in class, Emma, as I mentioned in my presentation, conforms more to my expectations of the contemporary novel than the other works we've read (this would be logical, given the class's focus on exploring the development of the genre). However, as it does, I find myself evaluating the work as I would any novel- is it exciting? Am I engaging with the characters? Am I relating to any of the characters? Which I think is a rather dangerous approach for me to take, as it negates the historicity of the novel, and doesn't allow for the placing of the novel in its appropriate historical context. So, I am attempting to focus on Emma without expectations for how I will react to it.
Monday, April 30, 2007
In the spirit of sort of wrapping things up as the semester comes to an end, I thought I'd make a post about the various threads and themes I've assimilated this semester. I think I've
My part of the presentation tonight is going to involve genre. Specifically, Emma as a Gothic novel. I know, it's crazy! I'll share some criticisms with you, and let everyone draw their own conclusions.
Emma is a very interesting novel on a lot of different levels, which I'm not really going to get into tonight. (Time constraints! Grr!!) The idea of marriage fascinates me, especially Emma's initial desire to never marry. Is she a hypocrite? This ties in nicely with Pamela, another possible hypocrite. Also, leisure time in the book is a theme I'm interested in. Chekhov's Three Sisters highlights the leisure time of the wealthy, and Emma does the same thing. Granted, Chekhov casts a very negative light on the bourgeoisie, does Austen do the same in her novel? How overt are politics in this novel? I hope we have the chance to discuss all these topics in class!
My portion of the novel presentation on Emma today will focus on Austen's narrative technique. What I love about this novel is that we seem to get a lot of opinions - there is no one person we turn to for all of our information. I see the marked difference in the narrative style from say, Richardson or Fielding. So, why is that? What made Austen different?
I discovered the answer through the course of my research for my presentation, where I came across a familiar term - free indirect style. I am familiar with the term from my many literature classes, as it is a style that frequently appears. However, one article in particular connected free indirect style to our current studies particularly well. The essay, written by Casey Finch and Peter Bowen (it is on my works cited page that you'll receive tonight, for those of you who are interested), discusses the idea of gossip as a narrative technique in Emma. What is most interesting, and helpful, I think, is their discussion of how Austen and her style fit into Watt's definitions of narrators. If you think about it, from the works that we've read thus far, there are two types: 1) Author is formall absent and there is a focus on the psychological condition of the subject (as seen in Defoe and Richardson) and 2) Realistic, external approach, where there is an intrusive, omnicient narrator (Fielding). Austen does not cleanly fit into either of these. Rather, she combines elements of both to incorporate the free indirect style. As a result, we, as her readers, get not only the psychological closeness to the subjective world, but we also have editorial comment as well. The best of both worlds? Regardless, I think this is a perfect example for what we've been trying to do all along this semester --- that is, trace the development of the novel. Here, Austen plays with the two narrative techniques that were frequently present in the eighteenth-century and creates a unique form that is used beyond her day. It can be seen throughout Emma that she used her predecessors' techniques, but made them her own. That, in and of itself, is what makes literature (and tracing its development) so fascinating!
Monday, April 23, 2007
Emma is quite different from the other literary works we have read in this class, at least to my mind. It is more direct and explanatory as it unfolds itself, making it easy to follow and apppreciate. The story also seems to resemble the modern novel a little more closely as well. .
There is obviously a narrator in this story. It is the narrator's voice that interests me the most. It is ever-present, audible in the lines and pages of the story, yet is not like Behn's narrator. The reader does not seem to be told what to think. At least as far I have read, there do not seem to even be the vague suggestions on what the reader should take from the story as was present in Evelina. In my ears, I felt like I could hear the voice of the main character, Emma, as the narrator even when the reader was not seeing the story from over her shoulder.
The cover of the book (Penguin Classics copy) also struck me. Assuming the picture is Emma's, it seems quite fitting for Emma at least considering the personality painted by the story. She has a smug expression on her face, that is almost openly defying. The expression seems to defy the norms in a relatively subdued and almost submissive manner. One could surmise that her expression was borne of fatigue, if one had not been exposed to her as a character in the story.
Jane Spencer argues in her article that women writers of the eighteenth-century moved toward a mode of writing that conflated the domestic, private world of women with the outward, public sphere of men by establishing their fiction in the emerging public sphere - a sphere that comprised private groups in public interaction. In doing so, women writers were able to meet the heretofore masculine tradition of political writing in the genre of romance and domesticity they had been more or less confined in.
Jane Austen deftly fits Spencer's model, and in several ways exemplifies it. Austen weaves her Emma in an environment of domestic middle-class English countryside life, following the meddling of Emma Woodhouse in the romantic affairs of others. Part of what makes the story so significant and engrossing is the terrible impact that such meddling can have. In nineteenth-century life, the social mobility of a woman or a man depended greatly on his or her marital match. The social and political weight of a man could be increased or decreased according to marriage - certainly it could make or break a woman. Emma's interference in the lives of others and the ensuing conflict that arises over it not only provides positive support for Spencer's thesis concerning the moral authority of women writers, but also illustrates her conception of the negative influence of the political and social authority of men. Emma's obsession with the act of marriage, and indeed her own disinclination for it, demonstrates the problems inherent in the masculine obsession over social class due to marriage. She tries to force poor Ms. Smith and poor Mr. Elton into naturally awkward social positions, and at the possible detriment of Harriet and herself. Emma is aware of the social danger of marriage and is personally unwilling to gamble with it (unless, as she admits, "were I to fall in love, indeed, it would be a different thing!"), but her willingness to interfere with the social standings of others emphasizes the blatant faults of the impersonal manipulation of social marriage over romantic marriage (82). Emma's progression in the novel reflects Austen's intentions for the reader - toward an understanding of the importance of proper action in domestic matters due to its reflection in social and political matters, and its reflection in the personal happiness or grief of individuals.
Monday, April 16, 2007
After reading The Monk, it left me with alot of food for thought. The plot and arrangement of events intrigued me. I found Lewis' method of presenting Ambrosio as an eloquent, impeccable abbot whom the city idolizes. As the true nature of his heart is uncovered, it baffled me and even disgusted me. But because of his initial introduction as a character, I felt like I was waiting somewhat on the edge of my seat for the outcome of the monk. Even though I had read the summary on the back of the book, I felt like each page I read I subconsciously wished that Ambrosio would reach a point of turn around.
Matilda's revelation of herself as a female and their coming together for the sake of Ambrosio's new found lusts was interesting to me. I think it showed the nature of the human being and how hiding behind the robe could not shield Ambrosio from what lay inside. It was interesting to me also how one thing led to the other in his life. The influence of Matilda is also obvious. Yet,in my mind I could not really blame him, nor could I blame her for each new venture he explored. It is also interesting how he graduated from one crime to another. While he never really felt remorse for the things he did, I felt like he felt trapped in the exploration of his indulgences and felt he could not back away.
Antonia seemed to be the innocent lamb that Ambrosio sought and pursued frantically till he possessed and defiled her. I found her innocence interesting, but not particularly appealing. This is because I can not possibly see what her mother hoped to protect her daughter from by keeping her from the knowledge of the harsh world they lived on. It had me wondering at some portions of the story what thoughts ran through Antonia's mind as she was pursued by Ambrosio. I think it is interesting that a young woman howbeit a girl of fifteen years old could have no knowledge of certain things.
Fully aware that Antonia was the victim of the story as she lost her virtue and her pride, the story still had me wondering if Ambrosio could in fact have been a victim as well. A victim to his desires which he had never learned to curtial, as he had not been exposed to such temptations at all during his life, as much as we know though.
Other areas of interest were the continual labeling of Antonia as friendless. It makes me wonder, who is a friend? Apart from her mother, she had Flora who was almost wholly loyal. She had relations that we were told would gladly have taken her in and cared for her upon the death of her mother, so did the narrator teach us that she was friendless?
Also, the role of the poems and the songs in the story was interesting. The mystery that surrounded the life of Agnes, Ambrosio's monastery as well as St. Clare's was also interesting.
As I was reading Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick's "The Character in the Veil: Imagery of the Surface in the Gothic Novel," I found myself drawing many connections to Bronte's Jane Eyre. One of my favorite things about this class is the ability we have been given to see how the novel has developed during the eighteenth century.
Reading The Monk, I could see some not-so-obvious connections, but it wasn't until I read Sedgwick that I saw how much influence the Gothic novel of the 18th century has on its successors in the 19th century. I tried to remember reading Shelley's Frankenstein (because I'm sure I'd have more to work with, but sadly that was back in my undergrad years (which seem so far away!). Jane Eyre is fresh in my mind, so that is what kept diverting my attention when reading the essay. Bronte's novel can be read as a gothic, especially when considering the scenes involving Bertha Mason and the Red Room scene Jane experiences as a child. However, it was Sedgwick's discussion of the veil that really peaked my interest. Sedgwick argues: "The veil that conceals and inhibits sexuality comes by the same gesture to represent it, both as a metanym of the thing covered and as a metaphor for the system of prohibitions by which sexual desire is enhanced and specified" (256). With this explantion in mind, I recalled the scene where Bertha rips Jane's veil off. It can be interpreted in many ways, but I would argue that given Sedgwick's perspective, Bertha is essentially trying to take away Jane's sexuality - the very thing that attracts Rochester to her. Something so seeming innocent, then, becomes a subject of importance. Similarly in reading The Monk, I wasn't really zoning in on the importance of the veil and what it meant regarding the female characters. However, as Sedgwick points out, from the beginning of the novel when Antoinia appears at the church covered in a veil, readers should read into this a bit more and be able to connect it with her sexality. Sorry if I've gone a bit off topic. I am just fascinated with my new found ability to see and understand how the 19th century novel developed from the 18th century, and will often obsess about it as I read.
Whether this was Lewis's intention or not, The Monk can be read as a damning indictment of the "unnatural" practices of the Catholic Church. Lewis displays a remarkable amount of sympathy for those guilty of sexual transgressions,
as long as those transgressions are in a form that he considers acceptable. For example, Agnes' and Raymon's relationship, although she has taken the vows and they are not married, are viewed with sympathy by characters in the novel, except for Ambrosio, whom we know is guilty of the worst transgressions himself. Repeated mention is made that the convent doesn't suit Agnes' character, and that to shut herself away and not have the chance to have a husband and children is an unnatural choice. Yet Ambrosio also experiences sexual desire, but his desires manifest themselves in a twisted way. He uses withcraft and subterfuge to achieve his evil aims, and the consummation of his desire for Antonia leads to her destruction. On page 297, Lorenzo's thinks, as he watches a religious procession, "He had long observed with disapprobation and contempt the superstition which governed Madrid's inhabitants. His good sense had pointed out to him the artifices of the monks, and the gross absurdity of their miracles, wonders, and suppositious reliques. He blushed to see is countrymen the dupes of deceptions so ridiculous..." (Lewis 230). The nuns of St. Clare are described in equally unflattering terms, with mention made of the intrigues and petty jealousies that flourish inside the claustrophobic confines of the convent. Far from expressing admiration for those who choose a religious vocation, Lewis seems to be telling the reader that ardent Catholicism causes more harm than good.
There is also an interesting inversion of sexuality of the characters in Lewis's work, particularly Ambrosio and Matilda, which I will be talking about further in my presentation tonight, but consider the language that is used to describe Ambrosio at the outset of the novel. He has never left the cloister walls, he's virtuous and a a virgin, and is protected in the abbey much as a young woman would be. His reaction to Matilda's sexual advances and their eventual liasion is also described in very gendered terms, as Matilda takes the lead in their sexual relationship, leaving Ambriosio "trembling and weak." After Matilda has him under her control. she drops all pretenses to gentleness and timidity and begins displaying a masculinity that Ambrosio finds very distasteful. Of course, since we learn that Matilda is no woman and not human at all, we see how Ambrosio has adopted the traditional "feminine" role in their relationship, while Matilda has played the role of despoiler.
Monday, April 2, 2007
Both Alana and Kris raised some very interesting points regarding Evelina. To add to their points, I'd like to throw out something that's bothering me after reading the novel.
Don't get me wrong, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. Burney did an excellent job with the characterization, the writing, especially the dialogue, etc., but the gender inequality of her time period shines through. Of course, that's not a critique of Burney; she is merely portraying the world as she sees it.
What especially bothered me about this novel was Evelina's search for her name. Specifically, she is searching for her rightful name and fortune. Her very identity! The whole book is about this struggle. But as soon as she gets what she was after, her name, she gives it up! Her marriage to Lord Orville completely negates her struggle for self identity. It's sad, really. Evelina is without a true identity for so long, and her true moment of awareness is too brief. Is that silly? It's really bothering me!
Also, I'd like to talk a little bit about the name "Anville" that she is given by Villars. It makes me think of an anvil, which I'm sure it can't be referring to. Is it simply an anangram, or is it important in another way?
The Epstein essay surveying liminality in the heroines of Burney's novels drew a slightly different response from than was elicted from Alana. I was drawn to the fact that Burney depicted her heroines in these peculiar stations to explore their abilities to identify themselves in their societies. In the case of Evelina, I find her liminality, while certainly indicative of her inability to establish a position on her own, that is without a male counterpart, an interesting and often humorous probing of ridiculous social convention.
As Epstein points out, the liminalities with which Burney garners her heroines often "blast the social structures...of social preservation" (203). It is this point that attracted my attention during reading Evelina, and what drew my notice reading Epstein's essay. The humor of many of the early situations in the novel when Evelina goes to London stems from the absurdism of the conventions she needs to follow. It's true that Rev. Villars does not prepare her for the world in his overprotective rearing, and this leads to her inability to navigate her own way when she is released to it. But this serves the plot's purposes perfectly (all the while adding a realistical psychological dimension of weakness to his character), so I find it less an indictment of the paternal control of young women in society (though it is that) and more a circumstance within which Burney explores the utter lunacy of requiring such delicate and specific conventions given many other characters' true actions. In many ways, Evelina is better prepared for the world than many other women (notably Miss Mirvan), for she does not have the shackles of absurd convention to prevent her from detecting hypocrisy and cruelty in those that abuse those conventions. Evelina's inability to fend off suitors in a "suitable" way, leads her to more comic, uncivil, and effective means of protecting herself (e.g. accompanied by prostitutes, laughing in the faces of those she dislikes).
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Julie Epstein raises several interesting points in her essay, "Marginality in Frances Burney's Novels." She talks about the "liminal" state that Burney's heroines Evelina, Cecelia, and Camilla inhabit. To be liminal
is to be between states, as Evelina is between girlhood and (married, assumptively) womanhood. She has left her father's house but has not yet entered her husband's, and as such she occupies an in-between and rather dangerous zone. Transitioning between these two stages requires her to place herself at a position of access, if only with designs of attracting a husband, but it also invites danger upon her. As we see repeatedly in Burney's narrative, Evelina seeks to control those who have "access" to her, both physically and in placing demands on her time, but she fails to exert a significant amount of control. As a liminal woman, she lacks the power to even control others' access to her. We see this particularly in scenes in which Evenlina struggles to maintain her bodily integrity, such as when her hand is taken against her will by Mr. Lovel and later by Sir Clement. Evelina attempts to free her hand, but such is her concern about offering offense to anyone, that she often ends up struggling fruitlessly. We also see scenes in which she is cornered not only physically but conversationally by other characters, such as when Sir Clement refuses to stop badgering her about her invented dance partner. The length and detail Burney invests in describing these scenes lead me to believe that they are very thematically important. At Evelina's first ball in London, she is faced with a sort of Gordian knot of etiquette. She cannot turn anyone down for a dance without a reason, such as being previously promised to dance, yet when she attempts to offer such an excuse, her equivocation is perceived and provoked by Sir Clement. Ergo under the constraints of etiquette Evelina cannot effectively free herself from anyone, either physically or other wise, without risking offense even in the act of protecting her bodily integrity. When she is confronted, she becomes tongue-tied and awkward. I am struck by the differences between Pamela and Evelina. Evelina, technically a lady born although she is not claimed by her family, seems to possess little recourse to protect herself should she wish to abide by conventional rules of etiquette. On the other hand, the plebian Pamela fights back verbally and often quite physically to defend her bodily integrity, and it seems that her wits and sharp tongue rarely desert her. As a servant, Pamela is not bound by the contstraints that bind Evelina, and although this seems to allow her more freedom it also seems to place her in more danger, as she has no titled or monied protector. The question of access is one I would like to follow up in class, given the opportunity.
Monday, March 26, 2007
Sterne in his A Sentimental Journey, seems to be setting a standard for the novel, though he might not have done so with full intention. The story goes smoothly, almost like a gentle lull as if the words are being spoken softly (at least to my ears). I think that this reading is mellow and a lot less "bouncy" than most of the other readings we have had in this class.
The story is about a traveler who takes the time (and lets us know that he is doing so) to define the title he attributes to himself. He lets us know why we are to consider him a sentimental traveler. The voice of the narrator is evident, but unlike Behn or even Fielding, it is not loud and imposing. The narrator's voice rather seems to be calmly authoritative. The reader is told the events of the story, but does not seem to be told what to think. It almost seems as if the record of the narrator as provided by the narrator seems to be the only believable version, and it does not seem like we are given any reason to either doubt or question the voice. There also seems to be this underlying sense of immense appreciation. It is almost as if the narrator evaluates everything he encounters as if the sights are new, and the people are all unique. The narrator seems to be in awe. This has me wondering if the author could have achieved the same effect if he had chosen to make his main character a king or an ex-convict. I think that the fact that Yorick is a parson influences the tone of the story.
The narrator does not really spend a lot of time ruminating on the nature of the road he travels upon or on the number of houses he sees for instance,as is typical with Defoe, emphasis instead is on the select moments the narrator chooses to expatiate upon, and the people he chooses to bring to light. For instance, the author zeroes in on the story of the dead ass. He tells the story and concludes by saying that if only humans loved one another like the man loved his donkey, the world would be a better place in essence. With Richardson, it seems like we are being instructed in the way we should act and how we should approach problem situations, as exemplified by Pamela. With Sterne, however, it is almost as if the reader can hear the wistfulness in the narrator's tone. The reader is not being told that he/she is uncaring, even though the reader is obviously included in the narrator’s wistful generalization.. Instead, it seems that the narrator is lamenting what is, and what is prevalent. There seems to be an identification of the issue, but unlike Richardson or Fielding, it seems to be left there, as a suggestion.
There is definitely present in the story the theme of travel as well as self-discovery as a result of travel. Yorick not only leaves England but he steps out of his comfort zone and learns to see the world differently, as it is, or at least as he chooses to see it. This is seen in his relation to individuals of different socio-economic status.
There are also a number of references to emotions and feelings and sentiments. As others have already pointed out and we have briefly touched on in class, there also seem to be inherent references to gender differences. Would Yorick be considered manly for paying attention to the things he does?
Both Alana and Kris raise very interesting points about gender in Sentimental Journey. I found myself wondering about some of the same issues while reading this novel. Aside from the completely fascinating study of gender in this novel, there seems to be a wealth of societal modes and overtones.
Each time I picked up this book, I examined the cover. I’m not sure how many of you have the same copy as I do: I have the penguin classic with the four men looking at a painting. What a great picture!! I still can’t get a read on it. The first time I looked at it, it seemed to me that the men were leering at the naked woman, with the man in blue smirking like a kid who knows he’s seeing something he’s not supposed to. Later, as I looked at the cover throughout my reading, the men seem to be calmly critiquing the artistry of the painting, with their gaze focused mainly on the cherub in the corner. Now, after reading the book, I’m still undecided on which interpretation would be more appropriate. I go back and forth between the two extremes. I do the same when I read Yorick’s tales; my opinion of Yorick and his “sentimental” nature is all over the map.
First of all, I’m amazed at Yorick’s ability to solicit tears from those he comes into contact with. Seriously, amazed. Possibly unbelieving. Also, I wonder if perhaps Yorick is equating politeness with “sentiment.” In fact, I’m still not quite sure what this “sentimental” label is all about. The intro mentions Yorick’s “sympathy and charity towards those he meets on route,” but I am hesitant to believe that acts of kindness equal a “sentimental” label (xi).
Because I have a burning desire to relate everything to present day, I thought a little bit more about the concept of a “sentimental” man (sorry!). To me, the “sentimental” man that Sterne seems to be representing is similar to a “metro-sexual” man today. The Urban Dictionary defines a “metro-sexual” male as “A man with a woman's vanity,” also “good looking, stylish, fashionable, trendy, cultured, & well groomed.” The definition continues with “very conscious about his image and looks in public…believes in quality than quantity. definitely, not gay, always want to make sure he is up to date in fashion, style, and usually the trend maker…open to new things as long it is viable…just a man who cares a great deal about outward appearance and sensitivity.” (www.urbandictionary.com) Yorick seems to fit this definition absolutely and completely.
This novel makes me wonder about the state of the typical “man’s-man” in this time period. How much respect from other men would a “sentimental” man get? Yorick seems to be redefining his gender with traditionally feminine attributes; was this a common practice of men in this period? Is this an example of a “foppish” man? Were the women similarly elevated? Was this just a way for Yorick to get more action? By the way, Yorick seems to be extraordinarily focused on sex, especially for a priest!!
I really enjoyed this book. Sterne has a very light touch, and his method of interspersing dialogue and thought is intriguing. There’s a lot of stuff in this book, I can’t wait to discuss it!
Monday, March 19, 2007
Quite independently, Alana and I came upon the same source for our presentation. It, too, got me thinking about Sterne's presentation of Yorick, a character often associated with himself. It is curious to think of Yorick as some kind of androgenous, though still sexual, character; even curiouser when one recognizes the influence Sentimental Journey had on the growing sentimental novel, as Mullan observes. The growing empowerment of women in the eighteenth century novel (which even traditionalists like Watt note) finds a balance in the "Man of Feeling," to use Mackenzie's term. For in that new hero, a more feminized male hero is engendered in the novel. But I mention the curiousity of this movement with respect to Sterne due to his treatment of the female reader of his Tristram Shandy, as persuasively argued by Barbara M. Benedict (among others). Benedict points out that the easily frightened, dense female reader that Sterne engenders is foiled with his intelligent, thoughtful male reader. Benedict finds Sterne's work to be antagonistically anti-feminine, critiquing romances, "female" trends in reading ("novelty over significance," for instance), and the corruption of the male literary culture (Benedict 490).
But this chauvinism is not apparent in Sentimental Journey. Without going into it too much here, I encourage everyone to consider the changing gender roles of the novels we've read. How does Sentimental Journey fit into this strain? Might you consider Sterne chauvanistic based on your reading of SJ alone? Did the sentimental novel change men's presentation in novels significantly?
While preparing my presentation on Sterne's Sentimental Journey, some themes kept reappearing throughout the book that had a fascinating effects on the narrative. Granted, we've kicked around the idea of gender and gendered reading quite a bit in this class, but
it has such an effect on the works we've read and our reaction to them that I feel it's valid to continue exploring as a theme. While reading other's interpretations of Sterne's work, I came across a journal article by Rebenna Gould entitled "Sterne's Yorick as a Male Hysteric." Gould made some interesting connections between the feminine attributes of hysteria (in the 17th century sense of the world, not the modern sense of the word) and Yorick's character, which I will cover in more detail in my presentation. However, Gould makes some very interesting points about the masculinity, or lack thereof, of Yorick. I do not think it is entirely accurate to claim that he is presented as an androgynous or asexual creation, as Gould does, since Yorick seems to be rather lucky with the ladies. Still, Gould makes a valid point in observing that Yorick is certainly not presented as overtly masculine, in contrast with the vigorous Le Fleur. Sterne uses feminine words (for example, Yorick's use of "prostitute" to describe himself) in connection with Yorick, and furthermore Yorick does not seem to be perceived as very masculine (and therefore dangerous) by any other characters in the story. Is Sterne feminising Yorick? Knowing that Sterne invested Yorick with several biographical details as they related to him personally, that is a hard question to answer. Certainly Yorick's "sentimentality" as the "man of feeling" rather than a man of action could be interpreted as feminine with regards to our traditional assignation of certain qualitites with the label of feminine or masculine. I rather feel as though this feminised quality of Yorick's makes him ultimately more accessible to those he comes into contact with. He makes emotional connections with both men and women, as as he is not perceived by women as a threat, he is given a certain amount of license in regards to being in private with them (which, I would point out, he certainly takes advantage of). We have seen a similar play with the concept of masculinity and femininity in Richardson and Fielding's work, and I feel as though the authors are attempting ot make certain points or assertions about the qualities invested in those gendered concepts. Richardson, for example, gives Pamela quite a bit of power but only within an extremely feminised sense. I don't want to ramble on in this post, but I really find this idea quite fascinating, and hopefully we will have a chance to discuss this further tonight.