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Jane Austen's EmmaPhilosophical Perspectives$
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E.M. Dadlez

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190689414

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190689414.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 26 November 2021

The Many Faces of Gossip in Emma

The Many Faces of Gossip in Emma

(p.134) Chapter 5 The Many Faces of Gossip in Emma
Jane Austen's Emma

Heidi Silcox

Mark Silcox

Oxford University Press

“News! Oh! Yes, I always like news.” Throughout Emma, Jane Austen’s eponymous heroine repeatedly betrays her intense love of gossip. Other characters (notably, Miss Bates and Mr. Knightley) also indulge and rejoice in this style of conversation, as does the novel’s own narrator. In this chapter, the authors propose to examine the multifaceted and ambiguous role played by gossip in Emma, in light of the diverse opinions expressed by a number of critics and philosophers about the ethical and psychological significance of this form of human discourse. They argue that Austen exhibits a fascinating, consistently ambivalent evaluative attitude toward the information-rich chitchat of her characters. She reveals a sensitivity to the moral dangers of gossip, as well as to what evolutionary psychologists have identified as its fundamental role in the regulation of human societies, and in the development of more indispensable forms of linguistic communication.

Keywords:   gossip, communication, discourse, conversation, moral, evolutionary psychology, Austen, Emma

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