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|Title:||Burney's Frolics: Violence, Laughter and Shame in Camilla; A Picture of Youth|
|Abstract:||This thesis examines the role of “the frolic” in Frances Burney’s Camilla. Frolics take the form of light-hearted pranks centered on ritualized public humiliation; they are comically framed and particularly painful, encouraging a discussion about the ethics of laughter and the dynamics of power operating in both Camilla and Burney’s world. The purpose of this study is twofold: firstly, this project seeks to qualify current emphasis on politeness in the eighteenth century by tracing a history of violent comedy, engaging with jestbook humour, print culture, conduct literature and theorists such as Fielding, Hobbes, Smith and Locke. This study suggests that Camilla responds to popular debates about laughter and propriety, pushing the boundaries of comic acceptability with violent pranks and the use of animal and deformity humour. Secondly, this study explores the structure of the frolic itself, its function as a system of domination and control. The prankster, a socially transgressive figure able to displace the rules governing propriety through a prank, is also a social tyrant – seizing complete control over others, causing humiliation and shame. The frolic is based on plotting, secrecy, deception and public exposure, and Burney aligns the prankster with other transgressive figures in the novel, such as guardians and mentors, who exert the same type of power over the vulnerable and the weak. Burney’s pranks bring as much pain as they do laughter, becoming an important satiric device that explores both the politics of laughter and the social forces at work in her novel.|
|Appears in Collections:||Open Access Dissertations and Theses|
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