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A window into interpersonal relations in Jane Eyre from the perspective of imperatives

Yisong Li

Yisong Li

graduated from Beijing Institute of Technology and London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research interest mainly lies in discourse analysis. She is now working as an English teacher and course developer.

and Changsong Wang

Changsong Wang

received his PhD in linguistics from Beijing Language and Culture University and is currently an associate professor at Beijing Institute of Technology and researcher at Key Laboratory of Language, Cognition and Computation, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. His research interests include the morphosyntactic interface and syntax-prosody interface. He has published recently in Language and Linguistics (Benjamins) and Studies in Chinese Linguistics (De Gruyter).

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From the journal Text & Talk

Abstract

This paper explores the correlations between imperative sentences and interpersonal relations in Jane Eyre. The imperatives uttered by Rochester, St. John, and Mrs. Reed to Jane are examined from four perspectives: quantity, imperative force, addressing, and Jane’s corresponding responses. It is found that the variation in these aspects matches well with the development of interpersonal relations. Specifically, when the addresser and Jane get more intimate in relationship, the quantities of the imperatives tend to decline, the imperative force tends to soften, the addressing becomes more personal, and Jane’s compliance to the imperatives tends to decrease and her non-compliance tends to increase. It is proposed that new indicators in imperatives (i.e. vocatives, personal pronouns and directional verbs like come and go in imperatives) can be adopted to evaluate interpersonal relations in a literary work.


Corresponding author: Changsong Wang, School of Foreign Languages, Beijing Institute of Technology, Zhongguancun South St., No. 5, 100081, Haidian District, Beijing, P. R. China, E-mail:

Funding source: National Social Science Fund of China

Award Identifier / Grant number: Major Project 20&ZD297

About the authors

Yisong Li

Yisong Li

graduated from Beijing Institute of Technology and London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research interest mainly lies in discourse analysis. She is now working as an English teacher and course developer.

Changsong Wang

Changsong Wang

received his PhD in linguistics from Beijing Language and Culture University and is currently an associate professor at Beijing Institute of Technology and researcher at Key Laboratory of Language, Cognition and Computation, Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. His research interests include the morphosyntactic interface and syntax-prosody interface. He has published recently in Language and Linguistics (Benjamins) and Studies in Chinese Linguistics (De Gruyter).

Acknowledgments

We are very grateful to Prof. Srikant Sarangi and three anonymous reviewers for their constructive and insightful suggestions, which helped to substantially improve the quality of this article. We would also like to thank Prof. Zhongming Bao, Prof. Youmei Gao, Prof. Gang Gu, Prof. Fuzhen Si and Muyuan Rong for their discussion with us on relevant topics.

  1. Research funding: This research is partially supported by the National Social Science Fund of China [Major Project 20&ZD297] and the Fund for Science and Technology Innovation Research at Beijing Institute of Technology.

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Received: 2020-02-20
Accepted: 2021-07-13
Published Online: 2021-08-11
Published in Print: 2022-03-28

© 2021 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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