Aspects of Characterisation in James Hadley Chase's Crime Fiction: Multiple Perspectives

Ulrike Tabbert, Juhani Rudanko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review


In this article we explore two of British crime fiction writer James Hadley Chase's novels in connection with Forster's [Aspects of the Novel] distinction between flat and round characters, later conceptualised by Culpeper [Language and Characterisation, 56] as a scale with certain factors associated with roundness or flatness. Our aim is to position three characters from two of Chase’s novels on the flat/round continuum based on the analysis of selected scenes. The discussion draws together an analysis of agentivity and semantic roles in the first part, which is complemented by an analysis of transitivity patterns and other stylistic features such as naming choices, negation and metaphor in the second part to present an account of characterisation in the selected scenes. Our mixed-method approach under the umbrella of a stylistic analysis of literary texts also makes a case for agentivity analysis (whether a phrase is agentive or non-agentive) to be added to the stylistic toolkit alongside transitivity analysis [Halliday and Matthiesen, Halliday's Introduction to Functional Grammar; Simpson, Language, Ideology and Point of View], including in the case of metaphorical expressions.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEnglish Studies
Issue number3
Early online dateApr 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Agentivity
  • negation
  • semantic role
  • stylistics
  • theta role
  • transitivity

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Linguistics and Language
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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