On Assembling The Voices Of A Speaker And Characters In Inner Monologue


When constructing the internal monologue, the narrator’s omniscience manifests itself: the reader has a direct access to the consciousness of the character overwhelmed by unverbalized thoughts, as well as to the narrator’s comments, which, in fact, set the direction for possible monologue interpretations. Internal monologues have subjective linguistic characteristics of the narrator’s image in terms of choosing temporary forms of predicates, categories of faces. At the same time, they embody the subjectivity of the character reflected in expressive means. The reader penetrates into the psychological depths of the character’s consciousness when verbalizing thoughts in order to witness the splitting of the character’s voice into a sound palette, reflecting the view of the narrator and other characters on literary reality. Studying the character’s voice in his inner monologue, we penetrate into the consciousness of other characters. Thus, the consciousness is analyzed based on discursive categories of the literary text, including the category of voice. An internal monologue is a special narrative technique that neutralizes the explicit presence of the narrator establishing a correspondence between the view of the narrator and internal thoughts of the character, reproducing his feelings. The reader’s strategy is to extract author’s implications from pessimistic diffuse and fragmented thoughts of unhappy characters. A means of the internal monologue is reproduced by language that deautomatizes the readers’s attention who has a distant access to the mentality of characters

Keywords: Literary textinner monologuevoicenarrator


The text is a fixation of human thought about an event or a series of events. The format of text manifestation is a narrative which is a description of the sequence of actions and events unfolding in time in accordance with causal relationships. The reader needs to determine which of the elements forming the narrative occupy a strong position in the interpretation of the whole text. Narration appeals to the reader’s imagination (Gavrilova, 2015).

The reader recreates emotion of the characters, experiences similar emotions, which gives him an opportunity to interact with events and characters involved in the story. This is not typical of explanatory texts. Narration is a description of events caused by the intentional behavior of one or more autonomous characters, a manifestation of an imaginary world that equates to the world of the reader’s experience. These are cognitive models of comprehension of the narrative based on reader's memory (Salimova, 2008; Thagard, 2005).

Individual text elements are not able to form a complete picture of the laws governing the functioning of the text, cannot be the only object of linguistic studies. The interpretation of the text, multidimensional foundations for this interpretation are crucial (Blinova, 2015). The text does not always explicitly contain all the “keys” required for its interpretation, but the author indicates what knowledge about the objective world the recipient has to activate when interpreting the text.

Based on these instructions, the addressee (and the researcher) constructs a representation of the text, i.e. interpretation of a coherent whole based on the analysis of textual elements and mental representations of the world. The text is one of the functional segments of the communication process, the other segment is its interpretation (the virtual world of the addressee, thoughts and emotions, presuppositions).

Linguistics of the text is an interdisciplinary field which allows researchers to analyze a variety of issues related to text. The discursive nature forms one of the important conditions for the presence of meanings. The text is a result of cognitive activities related to the use of stylistic strategies, taking into account genre requirements and reading expectations. The content of the text involves the reader's reconstruction of implicit author's meanings, the identification of subjective relationships between text elements and other signals that are directly related to the relationship of the text with the communicative situation of the initiation.

Understanding the meaning of the text involves the reconstruction of the author’s meanings, presuppositions and implications, which are “innate” characteristics of the text, and the pragmatic meaning (Dontsova, 2019; Waugh, 2016). Autonomy of the text is a result of the pragmatic context, generating a semantic structure of the text independent of communicative factors in such a way that it begins to contain linguo-pragmatic elements. This content is activated every time the text is interpreted, modified, and reconstructed.

Interpretation of the text can be divided into three interfering phenomena: explanation (adaptation of text and reality concepts), assessment (determining the significance of the text), comprehension (comparing all the details, identification of the author's intention) In addition to the recipient and the author, the details that make up the text should include the text itself, reality and the literary tradition (a certain deviation from the norm).

The literary text expresses the relationship between the subject and the idea, reflecting and reproducing reality, and forms reality by processing the images that exist inside the reader (Clark & Chalmers, 2010). Everyone perceives their reality through previous experience and perceptions. Language and culture make up a certain worldview, and fiction is the main tool for creating this worldview.

The literary text expresses an idea of reality as believable and unthinkable, since the text reproduces reality but does not correspond to it. In addition, the author often tries to create illusive reality, and the recipient compares what he read with reality or immediately destroys it, which is one of the main features of the literary text. This is text identification, and this process allows the recipient to identify himself with the space of literary reality created by the author who knows many ways to create a mirage in the world of literary text that will be difficult to distinguish from reality. The literary text is created by both the author and the recipient; it cannot be self-sufficient without a reader. The literary text tells about reality, which can correspond to the ideas of the recipient, and about the recipient.

Problem Statement

The phenomenon of voice as an urgent problem of linguistics of the text involves several research dimensions, including the psychological and narratological aspect, artistic ontological and analytical analysis. Some researchers say that it is inappropriate to study this phenomenon in the context of art, since the voice produces a sound substance (Armand, 2012).

The concept should be interpreted in a metaphorical sense, as a special authorial narrative technique that multidimensionally reflects the narrator’s auditory and associative impressions, embedded in rational thoughts about reality. In other words, one of the fundamental problems of generating a literary text is the relationship between such categories as voice and narrator.

Research Questions

The theoretical understanding of the voice, the point of view of the narrator / character is based on the dialogical views by Bakhtin (2002). In particular, the voice captures characteristics of the discursive typification of the subject of speech in the context of interpersonal interaction. The researcher uses this concept in pragmatic studies of the social register (“social voice”) and the unique image of the speaking person (“individual voice”), which are manifested when communicating with the addressee. The typology of social and individual voices is based on the specifics of perceiving vocal contrasts, delimiting one voice from another one.

The voice is embodied in the pragmatic dimension of dialogue, all sound palettes, showing particular sensitivity to discursive confrontations in public relations, in which it acts as an indicator of opposing emotional and volitional states of the addressee, such as sympathy and hostility. Dialogical statements are characterized by heteroglossia and polyphonism, which are the basic prerequisites for the semantic content of discursive works.

The concepts of voice and dialogism are metaphorically interpreted as processes of expressing the point of view of the speaking subject. Thus, the concept of “voice” means a discursive ability of an integral voice to be stratified into several voices within the literary narrative. In interacting with the reader, the author saturates the voice with echoes of discursive activities of other characters, coordinates the interaction between diverse voices. Concealment of the voice of the narrator (the “implicated author”) in the voices of characters who are the protagonists of the narrative, is one of the unique characteristics of the literary text. The voices of the narrator and the characters come into close contextual interaction.

In modern narratological concepts, narrative subjects are distinguished: those who perceive possible worlds created by the author and those who voice their semantic position in relation to these worlds (Makeeva & Nikulina, 2013). The opposition of these subjects activates such a textual category as the omniscient narrator. Interacting with the author, the reader interprets images of the narrator and characters through the prism of stylistic originality of the text. The text contains linguistic indicators of the narrator's presence (deictic elements, expressive means).

If these indicators are absent, the narrator is in a hidden form, “behind the scenes” of the narrative. The literary discourse involves a subject who carries out such activities. This subject is a hidden narrator (or narrative voice, voicing a special vision of literary reality based on the author’s position).

The relevance of the study of various combinations of voices in the context of the character’s internal monologue is determined by the following trends:

  • language representation of the narrator’s and character’s ideas on possible narrative worlds reproduced by the author based on heterogeneous voices;

  • the relationship between the narrator, the implicit author and the reader;

  • perception and interpretation of the psychological portrait and discourse of the character by the reader.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose is a pragmatic analysis of polyphony of the internal monologue as a discursive phenomenon of the interrelated voices of different subjects participating in the story.

Research Methods

The article uses a comprehensive method for studying the internal monologue which, along with the basic method of interpreting literary texts aimed at identifying models for joining the voices of the narrator and characters, includes a hermeneutic analysis of the narrative, methods of induction and deduction, an analysis of pragmatic effects produced in the character’s internal monologue.


The concepts of an internal monologue developed in text linguistics focus research attention on the phenomenon of implicit discourse of a character without an addressee (Damasio, 2010). The character turns out to be a talking and listening subject at the same time; the reader has illusion that he eavesdrops on the thoughts voiced by the inner voice of this character, receiving sensual impressions.

The concept of unspoken thoughts is paradoxical in the context of an internal monologue, since the statements are categorized as not heard by other characters (Gallix et al., 2009). Perhaps due to this fact internal monologues are sometimes defined as an accurate representation of cognitive processes – results of the perception of reality, mental images, and manifestations of the sensory sphere. Modeling the internal monologue, the author converts all these constructs into their verbal equivalents.

The following pragmatic characteristics of the internal monologue are revealed:

  • the first person singular as a reference to the character;

  • the development of character’s internal discourse coincides with the current moment of literary narrative;

  • segments of character’s are marked stylistically, reflect his linguistic personality;

  • the narrator’s speech segments are stylistically neutral;

  • associativity of the character’s thinking is not explained by the narrator, the reader independently interprets associations and allusions that make up the nature of thought processes in the character’s mind (Bosa, 2014; Tougaw, 2018).

Modeling internal monologues, authors provide the reader with an access to the consciousness of characters, their innermost dreams, fears and needs, presented as a preverbal phase of the speech embodiment of thought. Revealing the unique originality, the novels have a fundamental methodological feature: mental activity of the characters is represented as a slowed-down stream of thoughts, a stream of consciousness. In the context of the literary narrative, the unconscious sphere of the character finds its comprehensive expression, in which the author's interpretation of two fundamental methods of psychoanalysis is traced – the study of dreams and associative thinking.

The character’s internal monologue becomes a stream of consciousness characterized by sharp associative leaps in the space of syntax and punctuation (Hood, 2011). The reader has illusion that the narrator overhears the character’s chaotic thoughts, capturing voices of other participants. The reader is immersed in the unconscious sphere of the character, while he is faced with the surrounding daily life, analyzes it based on the once heard opinions of other characters and a vivid metaphorical imagery.

In terms of combined voices, an internal monologue can be generated in accordance with the following models.

1. In the character’s internal voice, the voices of his split self are a result of the specific psychological state. Cf:

(1) “Hunched low over the wheel, foglamps piercing the miasma, Dave Rudman powered his cab through the chicane at the bottom of Park Lane. The cabbie’s furious thoughts shot through the wind-screen of the unfeeling world. Achilles was up on his plinth with his tiny bronze cock , his black shield fending off the hair-styling wand of the Hilton, where all my heartaches began . Solid clouds hung overhead lunging up fresh blood ” (Self, 2007).

The segments in bold italics reflect subjective perception of reality transformed into “cruel thoughts”. The "Ego" of the character is split into two halves, which can be traced in a harmonious combination of narration from the third and first persons. The author marks the affective emotional-volitional state of the character who is experiencing psychosis. The first and third person narrative is based on a combination of neutral and demotic speech registers fixing the erosion of social boundaries in modern society. A character belonging to the lowest strata of society, the son of a teacher and a small entrepreneur, becomes a taxi driver and have a lifestyle of the working class. The shifts between third- and first-person narratives are interpreted by the discerning reader as an incompatibility between various forms of personality. The first-person narrative segments embody the other “I” of the character, like a foreign body present in his psyche. As a subject speaking in the first person, the character is opposed to himself, depicted from a third person.

2. The voice of another character is traced in the internal voice of the individual “I” of the character. Cf:

(2) “The company doctor sent her home with something written on a slip of paper a diagnosis ” (Bartheleme, 1993).

In (2), the syntactic structure of the internal monologue of the character is complicated by the application expressed by a single noun. The semantic load of the application is to specify information about the subject mentioned in the proposition. In (2), there are voices of two narrative participants - the main character and his wife. The reader perceives the diagnosis as something indefinite, and then as concrete, specified in the appropriate nomination.

Obviously, the first combination is voiced by the voice of the wife who did not have the slightest idea about the meaning of the concept “diagnosis”. The hero recalls how his wife mentioned the fact of receiving a certificate of his diagnosis activating a segment of his wife’s speech. The specification of the content of this certificate is voiced by the voice of the protagonist himself, who explicates his wife's ignorance of an important medical term. Putting the protagonist’s voice into the application indicates his ironic attitude towards the ignorance of another character, which was formed as a kind of belated thought about the event.

The voice of another character can be syntactically marked with interposed constructions that introduce a contrast between two points of view on the same situation reproduced in the narrative. Cf.:

(3) “Actually Sr Bustamente seemed half convinced that M. Laruelle had been taken in, that Senor Firmin had really been a sort of spy, or as he put it, spider… Sr Bustamente was prepared to be sorry for the Consul even as a spider, sorry in his heart for the poor lonely dispossessed trembling soul that had sat drinking here night after night ( though she came back, M. Laruelle almost cried aloud, that was the extraordinary thing, she came back! ) and possibly, remembering the socks, even by his country… ” (Lowry, 1999).

In interpreting the semantic content introduced by the author, the reader shifts the focus from the subjective perspective of the situation to the perspective of another character. Thoughts verbalized in the character’s internal monologue are interrupted by the insertion construct whose proposition is the value statements made by the other character in the situation that the first character is thinking about.

3. In the internal voice of the individual “I” of the character, the voice of the narrator is evident:

(4) “He became absorbed; … now surly, now gay, dependent on women, absent minded, moody, less and less able (1. so he thought as he shaved ) to understand why Clarissa couldn’t simply find them a lodging… And then he could just – just do what? just haunt and hover (2. he was at the moment actually engaged in sorting out various keys, papers ), swoop and taste…; and yet nobody of course was more dependent on others (3. he buttoned his waistcoat ). He could not keep out of smoking-rooms…, liked bridge, and above all women’s society, and the fineness of their companionship, and their faithfulness and audacity and greatness in loving which, though it had its drawbacks, seemed to him (4. and the dark, adorably pretty face was on top of the envelopes ) so wholly admirable, so splendid a flower to grow on the crest of human life, and yet he could not come up to the scratch, being always apt to see round things (5. Clarissa had sapped something in him permanently ), and to tire very easily of mute devotion and to want variety in love…” (Woolf, 2007).

The omniscient narrator represents the character’s internal monologue and introduces his comments, which specify the situation. The narrative of the commenting character is reflected in the interposed constructions (numbered in fragment (4)), which recreate the physical context of the character’s immersion in thought: the character’s and the narrator’s voices are explicitly differentiated, as the narrator’s statements are marked with syntactic means. The semantic load of the insert structures aims to:

(a) influence the reader’s imagination in order to visualize actions that the character performs at the moment of spontaneous reflection, to make the reader part of those thoughts that spontaneously arise in the character’s mind (1–4);

(b) explain the reader the basis for the occurrence of these thoughts in the character’s mind (5).

The voice is 5 is difficult to determine. On the one hand, it can be assumed that the proposition contains a response of the character to the question that spontaneously arose in his mind. In this case, the insert statement implements a fragment of the character’s thoughts. On the other hand, the semantic content of the construction can be interpreted as the voice of the narrator which gives an answer to the question that arose when the reader understood the text.

There are fragments of the internal monologues of characters, in which it is not possible to determine whose voice - the character or the narrator - prevails:

(5) “He’s convinced that his grandfather and grandmother, who are dead , will come back to life one day” (Bartheleme, 1993).

The statement, which is a fragment of the character’s internal monologue, is modeled by the structure of a compound sentence with an attributive clause. This clause focuses the reader’s attention on the importance of propositional information for the relevant interpretation of the character’s personality, namely the idea that the day will come when his ancestors will come to life and return to everyday life. Readers are made to believe that the character does not acknowledge the fact that his ancestors passed away.

The attributive clause is not marked stylistically, it can be interpreted as the narrator’s or character’s voice. Consequently, the fragment can be characterized as thoughts of the character interrupted by the comment of the narrator:

(5*) Character’s voice: He’s convinced that his grandfather and grandmother,

Narrator’s voice: who are dead ,

Character’s voice: will come back to life one day.

The character’s illusory thoughts are reproduced in the form in which they flow in his mind. The narrator’s comment reveals an objective fact that contradicts these illusions, since it affirms their failure from a rational point of view.


Based on the literary texts, we traced the semantic content of the internal monologue and means of its linguistic expression, revealed a general thematic denominator that underlies this narrative technique, namely the subjective perspective of fixing everyday experience and assessing reality. Characters spontaneously reproduce the everyday world through an individual perception of facts, objects and phenomena, a cognitive filter of their consciousness. It is not important for them what this world really looks like, the phenomenological reality as a product of the psyche turns out to be their sphere of residence (cf. A. Schopenhauer's opinion that “the world is my idea”). The internal monologue appears as a verbal channel of the author’s understanding of the phenomenon of human, the perception of the objective world as it is seen by this human.


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31 October 2020

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Sociolinguistics, linguistics, semantics, discourse analysis, translation, interpretation

Cite this article as:

Korostov, I. S., Korostova, S. V., & Kudryashov, I. A. (2020). On Assembling The Voices Of A Speaker And Characters In Inner Monologue. In D. K. Bataev (Ed.), Social and Cultural Transformations in the Context of Modern Globalism» Dedicated to the 80th Anniversary of Turkayev Hassan Vakhitovich, vol 92. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 588-595). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2020.10.05.79