Language and Consciousness in The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym
Celebrated for his gothic writings, Edgar Allan Poe was notably concerned with the workings of the inner mind. The individual's experience with the external world in particular seems to have been one of his main preoccupations throughout his career as short story writer and poet. This paper will examine the linguistic representation of consciousness in one of Poe's less known works, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket. The novel, which was written in the 1830s, reflects strikingly modern themes such as the elaborate depiction of mental processes and the constant questioning of reality. In relation to these, this study will explore the movement of the protagonist's consciousness through an analysis of sets of binaries and patterns of lexis. The role of perception in constructing reality in the mind of the narrator Pym will also be discussed with specific reference to the use of modality which accounts for the vagueness and uncertainty characterising the latter's experience and eventually contributing to his misreading of events. Thus by attempting to establish a direct link between the movement of the text and various stages of realisation, this paper hopes to offer new insights into the nature of the narrator's experience of the world.
Keywords: Language, Stylistics, Perception, Consciousness, Reality (Representation of)
School of English Studies, University of Nottingham