AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 5, Number 1. February   2021                              Pp.159-176

Perplexity and Predicament: A Corpus Stylistic Analysis of A Summer Bird-Cage

School of Foreign Studies
Anhui Normal University, Wuhu, China



This paper aims to explore the text style of Margaret Drabble’s novel A Summer Bird-Cage. Specifically, it is intended to scrutinize how Drabble’s language style vivifies her representation of some women characters’ perplexity and predicament when they are confronted with problems related to value orientations and lifestyles. The present paper’s significance lies in a methodological breakthrough and resultant interdisciplinary insights. To achieve the main aims specified above, this paper will explore the following research question: stylistically, how some lexical categories such as nouns, verbs, and clusters are related to the spatio-temporal order of the novel and to its discourse prosodies or “tone of characters” speeches. As a whole, this study is situated in a research context where previous and many current studies of A Summer Bird-Cage are primarily qualitative. To complement them, this paper embodies mixed methods research, featuring in a computer-aided, data-based, corpus stylistic approach to the style in Drabble’s novel. Based on a multi-layered investigation of Drabble’s language use and a close corpus stylistic analysis of it, this paper obtains some interesting findings as follows. First, some young, educated British women’s complicated psychological experiences are thematized via narratorial introspection that centers around characters’ processing of mind. Second, the tone of the women characters’ speeches and the underlying attitude to some important issues are often negative, indicative of the women characters’ bewilderment. In short, this paper adopts a corpus stylistic approach to thematic studies and character analysis as a contribution to the body of specialized knowledge of Drabble’s art of fiction.

Cite as:

Lin, X. (2021). Perplexity and Predicament: A Corpus Stylistic Analysis of A Summer Bird-Cage. Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 5 (1)159-176.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol5no1.11


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Xuqin Lin is a lecturer teaching English for more than twenty years in China. She graduated from Anhui Normal University, China and got her master’s degree in 2008 with a concentration in British and American literature. Her academic interests are corpus stylistics, second language acquisition, and edusemiotics. ORCID ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8386-4191