William Faulkner has exerted tremendous influence on world literature. The Sound and the Fury (1929) is one of his most famous, and yet his most disputed, novels. As a result of his use of the polyphonic technique, the novel acquires a complexity in both style and meaning. Without an in-depth analysis of its polyphonic feature, it would be difficult to clarify its complex meaning.
My thesis will employ Bakhtin's theory of the polyphonic novel in study of The Sound and the Fury. It is my contention that the novel can be fruitfully interpreted in the Bakhtin's framework of the polyphonic novel. In this light, we can see the polyphonic feature of the novel, as it is reflected in the image of the main characters, the comic-tragie-incidents, the complex relationships between the characters, and the indeterminacy of the value judgment.
The thesis relies on textual analysis with recourse to Bakhtin's theory. The theory roughly falls into three parts: the chronotope theory (or time-space theory), the carnival theory and the dialogue theory.
The thesis consists of five parts. The first part is an introduction, research questions and methodology, etc. Many meanings are intrinsically shaped by a specific time-space. Dialogic relations are necessarily chronotopic. The second part will use the chronotope theory to examine the carnivalesque time-space, and discuss how special time-space environment make these narrators' polyphonic dialogue with each other possible. The carnival collective is mainly composed of the clown, the fool, and the rouge. The carnival king is a character around whom all life is concentrated, and by whom all the other characters are colored with the carnivalistic features. Different narrators' monologues, which involve dreams, insanity, and scandals, their dialogues become vehicles for "internal dialogically" and a dialogic relationship to one's self and thought, etc. The third part will employ the carnival theory to examine different carnival figures in the novel:
Caddy, Benjy, Quentin, and Jason. These figures are either physically or spiritually distorted. In a carnivalesque environment, they find themselves in free and familiar contacts with one another. In the time-space world discussed in the former part, the extensive contradictions coexist among different narrators and among ideas in a single narrator. Only through an analysis of their different characters and fates can we understand why and how polyphonic dialogues among them take place in part 4. A dialogic sense of truth and a special position of the author are necessary for visualizing and conveying that sense of truth. The dialogic sense of truth manifests open-endedness by existing on the "threshold" of several interacting consciousnesses, a "plurality" of "unmerged voices." The fourth part is a discussion of the polyphonic feature of the novel: the dialogic interaction among different voices: great dialogue and the inner dialogue, the open-endedness of the novel. The dialogue theory will be used
in this part. I will discuss polyphonic dialogues among narrators, the inner dialogue, and the open-endedness of the novel. Through this analysis, we can see how polyphony works in the novel. The final part summarizes the main points of the whole thesis. Based on the previous discussion, it locates this novel in the carnivalesque polyphonic novel, and it further expounds the significance of this feature.