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Equal Partnerships: Ideal Androgynous Marriages in Jane Eyre and The Woman in White
The Victorian, Vol 2, No 1 (2014)
I stretch the denotation of androgyny and frame the characters from Jane Eyre (1847) and The Woman in White (1859) around a new connotation. Not only can androgyny be analyzed in terms of the individual, but I extend the term to the forms of marriage. I argue that the most optimal marriage in Victorian literature (and arguably today) is one in which both partners are androgynous, but also that the relationship is founded on friendship and equality, which I term an androgynous marriage. Unsuccessful marriages in the novel can be viewed as masculine when they rely solely on sexual intercourse for intimacy. Further, in the feminine marriage, the wife must be beautiful, obedient, passive, and perhaps obligated to marry her husband. Therefore, both Jane and Rochester, and Laura, (Marian) and Walter have a successful marriage, whereas Laura and Sir Percival and the Count and Madame Fosco have unsuccessful ones. Lastly, I argue that the character that dies in the unsuccessful marriages represents a gender polarity or abnormality, as well as serves in a male-dominant dutiful or sensual partnership.
Stitching a Life, Telling a Story: Sewing in Jane Eyre
Women's Writing. Published online: 28 Feb 2014
This essay begins by situating Jane Eyre (1847) within contemporary representations of sewing in canonical novels by the Brontë sisters and George Eliot. These texts depict the complex and contradictory nature of needlework. The essay reveals how sewing takes Jane from her girlhood at Lowood School to her deliberate auditioning for the role of Rochester's “lady wife” at Thornfield Hall. It is a journey that is aided and punctuated by Bertha Mason's destructive acts upon fabrics, each of them a coded and crucial message to Jane. The essay's argument is founded upon three linked points: that the pivotal moments in Jane's life and social journey are woven into the story of her stitching; that this story draws upon fairy-tale archetypes; and that Jane's increased skill in manipulating her needle is bound up with her control over her narrative and her theatrical self-presentation.
Postcolonial Life and Death: A Process-Based Comparison of Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and Ayu Utami's Saman
Comparative Literature 2014 Volume 66, Number 1: 95-112
This comparative study of Wuthering Heights (a mid-nineteenth-century British novel by Emily Brontë) and Saman (a late-twentieth-century Indonesian novel by Ayu Utami) examines the two novels' respective treatments of internal colonization — a shared thematic concern that only becomes apparent with critical attention to the similarities between scenes found in each work. Read together, the two texts expose the limitations that a unilinear model of the colonization process may impose on life for the colonized subject. Whereas Wuthering Heights figures pre-colonial and colonial modes of life as existing on a single chronological continuum, casting the former as an irretrievable thing of the past, Saman conceives of the two co-existing parallel to each other, the former continuing to exist despite the introduction of colonial culture. By proposing and deploying a process-based model of literary comparison that alternately analyzes the similarities and differences between texts rather than attempting to maintain a balanced view of both at once, this essay also hopes to contribute to recent discussions within the field of comparative literature on how to treat textual convergences and divergences.