1700-1775 theory of mind, social hierarchy, and the emergence of narrative subjectivity

Lisa Zunshine

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

9 Scopus citations


A peculiar sideline scenario plays itself out obsessively in one eighteenth-century novel after another: A protagonist responds to a n appa rent ly impover ished stranger's plea for assistance while being closely watched by an interested observer, such as a secret admirer, a parent, or a friend. For example, Laurence Sterne's A Sentimental Journey through France and Italy (1768) opens with Yorickin Calais, first rejecting the plea of a Franciscan monk begging on behalf of his convent, then feeling guilty and afraid that the monk has reported his uncharitable behavior to the attractive lady traveling next to Yorick, and fina l ly ma k i ng it up to the monk under the approving gaze of that increasingly attractive lady. Sarah Fielding's The History of Ophelia (1760) features a scene in which the rakish Lord Dorchester helps out the starving half-pay Captain Traverse, while Dorchester's beautiful young protégé, Ophelia, watches them both and describes their feelings. In Oliver Goldsmith's The Citizen of the World (1762), a series of essays written from the point of view of a fictitious Chinese philosopher living in London, the narrator first listens to his acquaintance, Mr. Drybone, inveighing against giving alms to beggars and then observes Mr. Drybone going against his own wise precepts and surreptitiously helping out several of them. In Anna Maria Bennett's The Beggar Girl and Her Benefactors (1797), Colonel Buhanun starts off by berating harshly a "little female mendicant" who begs him for "one halfpenny," but soon reveals his truer, gentler self, gives the girl money, and even fights to hide "an officious fluid, which sprang involuntarily to his eyes" at the sight of her distress (1:3). The exchange takes place under the attentive gaze of Buhanun's trusty servant - his occasional almoner and another crusty man with a heart of gold.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Emergence of Mind
Subtitle of host publicationRepresentations of Consciousness in Narrative Discourse in English
Number of pages26
StatePublished - 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Arts and Humanities


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