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Larry L. Stewart

In Stewart (2005), I suggest that quantitative analyses of seventeen eighteenth-century British novels reveal telling differences in the ways male and female writers construct male and female narrators. Preliminary data from principal components analyses of word frequencies indicate that female narrators created by male writers use certain items of vocabulary at a rate significantly different than those items are used by male narrators created by male writers or by narrators created by female writers. The language of female narrators constructed by males tends to be more contingent, more self-referential, and more socially engaged than that of male narrators created by men or of male or female narrators constructed by women. These results may indicate shared assumptions, probably both conscious and unconscious, on the part of male writers concerning the language or perhaps mind style of women.

This paper furthers that investigation by considering more closely the male and female letter writers in Samuel Richardson’s Pamela and finds not only that the vocabulary items accounting for the difference between male and female letter writers in Pamela are nearly identical to those accounting for differences in other eighteenth-century novels but that changes in Pamela’s voice within the novel are in accord with her gendered positioning at different points.