Why is the free indirect style such a useful narrative means to portray characters’ minds in fictional texts? This article gives more insight into this phenomenon
by analyzing texts from earlier times. Previous studies state that the free indirect style for the representation of thoughts emerged in Dutch literary prose in the 19th century. However, this article shows that the roots of this technique were already present in 17th century Dutch popular literature novels. The analysis of these novels provides us with more insight into this phenomenon.
Before the emergence of free indirect style, the most common form for the representation of a character’s consciousness was direct discourse. The suggestion
that the character is ‘thinking out loud’ makes this thought representation unnatural, as emotions and feelings are often pre-verbal and wordless. Free indirect
style gives the narrator the possibility to formulate that which the character cannot put into words. The free indirect style allows the author to merge descriptions
of events and actions with the character’s inner life, feelings, questions and wishes without a change in the narrative style when it comes to personal pronouns