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Sentimental Discipline - A Narratological Analysis of Susan Warner s The Wide Wide World

The narrative strategies that Susan Warner uses in her evangelical, sentimental novel The Wide, Wide World (1850) to develop sympathy in the reader have mainly been analyzed at the level of the “story” whereas the role the narrator plays in the production of sympathy has not received as much attention. The aim of this paper is to examine the sympathetic relationship between the narrator and the novel's heroine, Ellen Montgomery, as well as to show how such a relationship contributes to the novel's sentimental rhetoric. Richard Brodhead's theory of “disciplinary intimacy” that he develops in Cultures of Letters (1993) and Gérard Genette's Narrative Discourse (1972) will constitute the theoretical framework of the study.