Stream of Consciousness in 'Tristram Shandy' Analytical Essay by Shaad

Stream of Consciousness in 'Tristram Shandy'
This paper looks at the stream of consciousness in Laurence Sterne's work 'Tristram Shandy'.
# 113861 | 1,240 words | 4 sources | MLA | 2008 | BD
Published by on May 17, 2009 in Literature (General) , Philosophy (General) , Political Science (John Locke)

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In this article, the writer makes the case that there is a method to the madness that we confront in Sterne's 'Tristram Shandy'. Sterne is playing with the reader's expectations, but his aim is to unsettle the deterministic mindframe. The writer notes that Sterne is writing in the Augustan age of literature, and he wishes to overcome the strict constraints of Neo-Classicism. He also takes to heart the Lockean philosophy of empirical skepticism, which deconstructs the strict rationalism of the Cartesians. The writer discusses that it is the primacy of mind over matter that Sterne emphasizes, and the method he employs can be described as an anticipation of the 20th century literary device known as "stream of consciousness". These aims of the author must be taken into consideration when analyzing the novel, and they reveal its significance.

From the Paper:

"Sterne is deliberately playing with the expectations of his reader, and his purpose is to undermine the rational mindset. He was writing immediately after the Augustan Age in literature. The literature in this period was characterized by Neo-Classicism, practiced and preached most notably by Dryden and Pope. Dryden was a member of the Royal Society of London, a body established to encourage experimental science and to propagate the valued inherent in it - reason, common sense, proportion, balance, and so on. The old order based on the Church was dissolving, and writers and artists sought a new standard in nature and its laws. The writers of the Augustan Age felt that the culture of ancient Greece and Rome embodied the same values, and therefore sought to establish a new classicism. The movement eventually bred its antithesis in Romanticism, which decried the dictates of reason, in favor of feeling and spontaneity. In a sense Sterne can be described as an early Romantic, even though his writing has nothing in common with the literature that came to be recognized as Romantic."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Locke, John. An Essay Concerning Human Understanding. Indianapolis IN: Hackett Publishing Company, 1996.
  • Sterne, Laurence. Tristram Shandy. Ware, UK: Wordsworth Editions, 1996.
  • Thackeray, William Makepeace. The Works of William Makepeace Thackeray. New York: C. L. Bowman, 1915.
  • Ward, Adolphus William and Alfred Rayney Waller. The Cambridge History of English Literature. Cambridge: The University Press, 1913.

Cite this Analytical Essay:

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Stream of Consciousness in 'Tristram Shandy' (2009, May 17) Retrieved October 22, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Stream of Consciousness in 'Tristram Shandy'" 17 May 2009. Web. 22 October. 2020. <>