An Appraisal Theory Approach to Point of View in Mansfield Park and its Translations


  • Victòria Alsina
  • Anna Espunya
  • Maria Wirf Naro



In order to achieve the goals of social commentary and moral judgement pursued in her novels, Jane Austen describes and evaluates different aspects of her characters’ personalities: social attitude, intellectual qualities and moral traits (Lodge 1966). Mansfield Park (1814) is one of her novels in which this moral awareness is most acute. In order to construct a community of shared values with her readers, Austen skilfully alternates different points of view as sources of evaluation. We propose an analysis of the first chapter of Mansfield Park that addresses this dialogic dimension by focusing on the resources of engagement, the subsystem of Appraisal Theory with which speakers/writers express their commitment to the truth of a proposition and their willingness to open the negotiation space to other voices (Martin & White 2005: 97).

The linguistic subtlety and complexity of Jane Austen’s writing is a challenge to translators, who must try to identify all the concurrent interpretation possibilities and reproduce them in the target language. In this article we compare the English source text with various translations into Spanish, Catalan and German. Our analysis focuses on the lexicogrammatical realisations of engagement such as verba dicendi, epistemic expressions, lexical choices with a distinct attitudinal load, and also on the development of narration – as far as that is possible in a study centering on the first chapter –, since it is often the case that narrator stance is modified as the text unfolds.

We discuss fragments of narrator discourse, direct speech and indirect/free indirect speech and consider the advantages of the framework to uncover changes in the evaluative dimension of meaning that affect the readings the translations will afford in their target society, from character building to the articulation of points of view.