Performativity in Moll Flanders: Autonomy and Relationship

June_Performativity in Moll Flanders

This paper reads Moll Flanders’ performativity as a way by which she displays her self-imposed authority while regarding her lack of coherence and sensibility as the repercussions of her performativity as well. Moll’s disguises have been the object of critical castigation for their inconsistency and insensibility. Yet creating a role to play and taking various identities mean more than just a survival tactic to Moll. Moll affirms her authority over her own identity and becomes autonomous through performativity, shifting through diverse identities she were not allowed to have. As she survives and thrives out of secrets, however, Moll has a problem of being disconnected from any meaningful relationships. In the end, Daniel Defoe has Moll go back to America and empowers her as much as to escape from the dark side of her performativity in her working relationship with Jemy. By delineating Moll as a vivacious character who enjoys her autonomy, which is hard earned by performativity and with a little bit of cost, Defoe celebrates the power of performativity in individualism while still being ambiguous to its dark side.

  • This paper was published in British-American Fiction Journal of South Korea, 2014 (21.2): 157-80.

Discontinuous Self: The Significances of Dickinson’s Poetic Persona

June_Discontinuous Self


When it comes to Emily Dickinson, one of the most debatable issues is the diverse personas in her poems which deal with such various subjects as incomparable to any other poet’s works. The personas of Dickinson’s poems are in some works identified with her own voice but in much more cases voice the others, strangely enough, not her self but a child, beggar, the dead, the corpse or non human being’s. With these personas the poetic world of Dickinson reveals her way of recognition of self as fluid, segmented, and discontinuous, not as coherent and integrated. Her lyrical personas lead the readers of her poems to consider her poetic strategy of appealing her own views of self. It also elucidates her opposing attitude to her contemporary society’s general points of view on women. In this regard the diverse personas are Dickinson’s own medium to express her recognition of self as a woman poet: with all its brevity, repetition, and figuration. Thus her segmented personas led by her understanding of self play as impediment when one tries to grasp poems of Dickinson in a form of single narrative. The genre of poetry itself is a Dickinson’s way of demanding the reader that each of her poems should be recognized in its own meaning. There should be no single narrative put on her poems like that of prose. Her poems and her personas are poetic without any patriarchical oppression for wholeness. Dickinson’s rejection to traditional coherence is an evidence of her attempt to take in and advance the ideologically limited conception of women. Dickinson goes beyond the negatively imposed identity of women, that women are whimsical and dis-integrated. She oversets it by using the socially prescribed limitation as her tactic. With discontinuous poetic persona, Dickinson skillfully resists the idea of self as integrated unit with feministic intention.

Key words: Emily Dickinson, poetic persona, discontinuous self, narrative, feminism