The rhetoric of voice change in Daniel Defoe's minor novels



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In Daniel Defoe's minor novels, despite the autobiographical pretense, the narrator's voice contains an unreconciled plurality. The pronominal subject in Captain Singleton and Colonel Jack frequently represents more than one person. Instead, it can be resolved as a dual personality, into the author's and the created character's voice. These, in turn, can be further sub-divided in the former as "the true author's voice," "the implied author's voice," and, in the latter, as "the characteristic voice " and "the autobiographical voice." The first three voices contain elements of the author's intrusion in varying degrees. Though they provide the reader with advice on eighteenth century moral, economical or social topics, such expressions of the author's personal point of view damage the structural unity of his novels and weaken the portrayal of fictitious characters. There is, however, an evolutionary movement toward a more independent autobiographical voice. Defoe gradually withdraws his intrusions until the narrator's voice in Roxana has adequate characteristic traits and mannerisms to render it fully independent. With its credibility and sustained personality, Roxana's voice is in many ways superior to the earlier narrators with mixed voices. Such an independent autobiographical voice represents the most mature state in Defoe's handling of the narrator.