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Thread: Free Indirect Discourse vs Stream of Consciousness (Help)

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    Free Indirect Discourse vs Stream of Consciousness (Help)

    I hope I'm posting this question in the correct thread...

    I was looking to get some insight into differences between Free Indirect Discourse and Stream of Consciousness. Every source I look to seems to have a different opinion on the matter.

    Apparently some believe the terms are almost interchangeable (or that some text selections are both). Others note that Stream of Consciousness explicitly implies first-person narration, while FID is marked by third.

    The following website provides this quote from Mrs Dalloway as an example of stream of consciousness...but I was under the assumption it was FID.
    http://narrative.georgetown.edu/wiki..._consciousness

    "Such fools we all are, she thought, crossing Victoria Street. For Heaven only knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, making it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh; but the veriest frumps, the most dejected of miseries sitting on doorsteps (drink their downfall) do the same; can't be dealt with, she felt positive, by Acts of Parliament for that very reason: they love life. In people's eyes, in the swing, tramp, trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June."

    -Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway


    Thanks in Advance!

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    best analogy I see is

    Jane Austen in her novels and Tolstoy in Anna Karenina both use Free Indirect Discourse.

    Joyce's Portrait of an Artist uses stream of conciseness.

    Hope that helps somewhat

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    Quote Originally Posted by lelea View Post
    I hope I'm posting this question in the correct thread...

    I was looking to get some insight into differences between Free Indirect Discourse and Stream of Consciousness. Every source I look to seems to have a different opinion on the matter.

    Apparently some believe the terms are almost interchangeable (or that some text selections are both). Others note that Stream of Consciousness explicitly implies first-person narration, while FID is marked by third.

    The following website provides this quote from Mrs Dalloway as an example of stream of consciousness...but I was under the assumption it was FID.
    http://narrative.georgetown.edu/wiki..._consciousness

    "Such fools we all are, she thought, crossing Victoria Street. For Heaven only knows why one loves it so, how one sees it so, making it up, building it round one, tumbling it, creating it every moment afresh; but the veriest frumps, the most dejected of miseries sitting on doorsteps (drink their downfall) do the same; can't be dealt with, she felt positive, by Acts of Parliament for that very reason: they love life. In people's eyes, in the swing, tramp, trudge; in the bellow and the uproar; the carriages, motor cars, omnibuses, vans, sandwich men shuffling and swinging; brass bands; barrel organs; in the triumph and the jingle and the strange high singing of some aeroplane overhead was what she loved; life; London; this moment of June."

    -Virginia Woolf, Mrs. Dalloway


    Thanks in Advance!
    I am not a leading expert, but I'd go with your second distinction, since it can be argued that Henry James used both 1st and 3rd persons to engage in an indirect discourse with the reader, whereas Woolf, who you cite, worked from the internal voice of the character outward, hence, the now notorious phrase, *stream* of consciousness.

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    Registered User kiki1982's Avatar
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    Stream of consciousness does not imply first person at all. (what nonsense ) It is just, like Jozanny said, the inner dialogue of a person in every minute detail.

    Free indirect speech is throwing a statement into the description which is clearly not the writer's thoughts, but clearly someone elses, whether the main protagonist's or public voice. It mostly depends on who the writer is talking about. Good examples are in Austen's books. Free indiret speech is really a conversion of direct speech, i.e. he thought, "wow, how great she looks!"', into 'he was standing by the window, occupied in thought. How great she looked and how often had he not wanted to speak to her!' The second sentence is clearly not the writer's description, nor does it say 'he said by himself' (direct speech) or something similar or 'he thought that...' (indirect speech), it says something between the two through which the text changes tone implicitly, without needing anything more than the thoughts of the character. It gives the text a more lively impression.

    Or that is how I understand it.
    One has to laugh before being happy, because otherwise one risks to die before having laughed.

    "Je crains [...] que l'âme ne se vide à ces passe-temps vains, et que le fin du fin ne soit la fin des fins." (Edmond Rostand, Cyrano de Bergerac, Acte III, Scène VII)

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    Thanks for the replies everyone! I really like the Henry James reminder; if anyone uses SOC "conventionally" it would be him right?

    Websites like this confused me:
    While not generally considered a textual manifestation of stream of consciousness in the conventional sense—in part because associated with third person rather than first person narration—another method of (re)presenting the consciousness of characters is free indirect discourse (in French, style indirect libre) or reported or experienced speech (from the German term, erlebte Rede).

    http://narrative.georgetown.edu/wiki..._consciousness



    I've always been told FID is third person with a first person essence, but after I started putting examples together for myself...I think I became confused.

    I know postmodernism is going to muck up any differentiations/barriers (as part of its nature) but what about this passage from Atonement? The mother Emily is lying in bed, thoughts occuring to her as a result of sound/smell stimulation and/or psychological association. Large portions of the first three sections of the novel are FID...but this portion of text is SOC as well, correct?

    Poor darling Briony, the softest little thing, doing all to entertain her hard-bitten wiry cousins with the play she had written from her heart. To love her was to be soothed. But how to protect her against failure, against that Lola, the incarnation of Emily’s youngest sister who had been just as precocious and scheming at that age, and who had recently plotted her way out of a marriage, into what she wanted everyone to call a nervous breakdown...
    From upstairs, the thud of feet on floorboards and children’s voices, two or three at least, talking at once, rising, falling, and rising again, perhaps in dissent, perhaps excited agreement. The nursery was on the floor above, and only one room along. The Trials of Arabella. If she were not so ill, she would go up now and supervise or help, for it was too much for them, she knew. Illness had stopped her giving her children all a mother should. Sensing this, they had always called her by her first name. Cecilia should lend a hand, but she was too wrapped up in herself, too much the intellectual to bother with children...
    -part one, pgs 62,3 (‘03 Anchor Books edition)



    Like you said kiki1982, that Briony is a "poor darling" is clearly not the thoughts of the flesh writer (Ian McEwan) or any other (in the case of Atonement)...& this isn't close third narration...so there's the FID...
    Yet again it seems SOC to me as well...even if the marking factors (specifically deviations from standard grammar and punctuation) arent always as clear as Joyce?

    I've also been considering the term "interior monologue". Some sources claim it's a subset of SOC and just as many others say it's the opposite. Are all FID interior monologues if they aren't streams of consciousness? What is the difference?

    This site says (http://web.cn.edu/kwheeler/lit_terms...logue_anchor):

    INTERIOR MONOLOGUE: A type of stream of consciousness in which the author depicts the interior thoughts of a single individual in the same order these thoughts occur inside that character's head.

    ...However I thought stream of consciousness was a more accurate representation of an interior monologue.

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    You're thinking too hard about this.

    Free indirect discourse is, as kiki explained, when a 3rd person narrator implicitly includes indirect discourse of a character without explicitly saying "they thought" or "they said."

    Stream of consciousness is a style that seeks to imitate how people think. Free indirect discourse can be written in a stream of consciousness style. However, not all thoughts of characters in novels are written in stream of consciousness, instead they rely on tropes of fiction writing that usually represent thought as clearly structured verbal thoughts. Stream of consciousness seeks to represent thought as somewhat fragmentary and associative. I would say that excerpt from Atonement is free indirect discourse, but is not stream of consciousness; the way it is written it is clear, you could imagine it being said aloud quite easily.

    An internal monologue is a monologue in thought, as opposed to a dramatic monologue spoken to an implied or actual audience. An internal monologue can be written in stream of consciousness, but doesn't have to be.
    "If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia."
    - Margaret Atwood

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    Check out How Fiction Works by James Wood if you need more clarification. He discusses it right off the bat.

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    Free Indirect Discourse is when a 3rd person (usually omniscient) narrator embodies the verbal characteristics without marking a shift from 3rd to 1st person. This passage is an example of free indirect discourse, which is a form of stream of consciousness, because stream of consciousness is simply when the reader is provided with the interior thoughts of the character, as they appear to the character. So, stream of consciousness in 1st person narration is generally something like an interior monologue. However, I don't think this particular passage is an adequate example of free indirect discourse, but rather it is a excellent passage to depict the periodic sentence.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alexander III View Post
    best analogy I see is

    Jane Austen in her novels and Tolstoy in Anna Karenina both use Free Indirect Discourse.

    Joyce's Portrait of an Artist uses stream of conciseness.

    Hope that helps somewhat
    Not quite right... "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man" is filled with free indirect discourse.

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    basically it is stream of consciousness wrapped up within more accessible language, to take it from the thought to statement - stream of consciousness means to disassociate the narrative from the thought, so the thought runs like real thoughts, and reveals things in a fragmentary manner. After about the 3rd or 4th Dubliners story, they are all in Indirect discourse, or the bulk of them anyway, feel free to take a look.

    The point is, the plot is being directly advanced, as are the characters in Free Indirect Discourse - it isn't free at all, it just has a brief period of a disassociation with the narrative voice to pretend to be the character's voice. Stream of Consciousness is similar except the bulk of the time it is random fragments instead of profound thought that pops up.

    As for The Portrait of The Artist,

    That isn't either of the two, and if you were to stretch it, it would be more free indirect discourse. The reason for that is the instability of the frame narrative voice, which is unique to the book itself, and is something in between the two, while remaining in a position of narrative authority.
    Last edited by JBI; 03-30-2011 at 07:21 PM.

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