Faculty Mentors

Dr. Jennifer Flaherty


This paper pushes against the critical tradition that views silence or listening in relation to passivity and powerlessness by exploring the role of noise in Jane Austen’s Persuasion and in Adrian Shergold’s experimental 2007 film adaptation of that novel and how sound relates to Anne Elliot’s emotional legibility. Austen fills the narrative landscape with sounds that are filtered almost exclusively through Anne so that even when she is silent, she is “making noise” through her focalizations and through free indirect narration. Both Austen and Shergold align noise with Anne’s emotions such that Anne’s sensorial responses to shocking, loud, and disruptive rooms parallel her same discomposure and shock at first seeing and then being around Wentworth. In his adaptation, Shergold chooses to enhance or define certain sounds in the scene above all other noises in his relaying of Anne’s sensory overload and “emotional journey.” Ultimately, Shergold uses this connection between sound and emotions to engage with the slippage between Anne’s focalization and the narrator’s voice in the novel, positioning Anne as her own narrator and thus offering her point-of-view a legibility that is otherwise lost in the novel’s confusion of voices.



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