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Enclosure, transformation, emergence :
b space and the construction of gender roles in the novels of charlotte bront
h [electronic resource] /
by Michelle Lattanzio.
[Tampa, Fla] :
University of South Florida,
Title from PDF of title page.
Document formatted into pages; contains X pages.
Dissertation (Ph.D.)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Includes bibliographical references.
Text (Electronic dissertation) in PDF format.
Mode of access: World Wide Web.
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ABSTRACT: I am interested in the construction and meaning of space in Charlotte Bront's novels, and more specifically the idea of enclosure, in abstract and concrete terms. In a concrete sense, I wish to investigate the physical spaces the women in Charlotte Bront's novels inhabit: their homes, gardens, workplaces, clothing, and their bodies. In an abstract sense, I wish to investigate the cultural, psychic, gender, and linguistic spaces they inhabit: the cultural images and conventions women are enclosed within, the psychic space of the mind, and the narrative spaces they inhabit (and create). Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, in their seminal text The Madwoman in the Attic, focus on the patriarchal enclosure of female characters in Victorian texts. As many Feminist critics of nineteenth century literature have noted (Vicinus, Agress, Auerbach), these enclosures are largely controlled by the patriarchy. Indeed, the protagonists of Charlotte Bront's novels reflect the entrapment of the feminine protagonists in a patriarchal world. However, focus on this entrapment obscures the power that characters like Lucy Snowe, Jane Eyre, Shirley Keeldar, and Caroline Helstone generate from their enclosure experience. Each enclosure these three characters experiences fuels their education. Lucy, Jane, Shirley, and Caroline generate power and transformation of self from their time spent in these various enclosures. The education of these characters becomes the education for real women. In order to reclaim and reaffirm the value of enclosure for women, one may trace the positive notions of enclosure through the Jungian model of a three-stage gestation of women's rites of passage: enclosure, transformation, and emergence, as proposed by Bruce Lincoln. This gestational process results in psychological and spiritual transformation. All four protagonists participate in many cycles of the gestational pattern on micro and macro levels. This process results in their eventual transformation and emergence as wise women. It is vital to re-interpret the psychic and physical enclosures within Villette, Shirley and Jane Eyre as spaces that shape the identity of Lucy Snowe, Caroline Helstone, Shirley Keeldar, and Jane Eyre.
Advisor: William H. Scheuerle, Ph.D.
t USF Electronic Theses and Dissertations.
Enclosure, Transformation, Emerge nce: Space And The Construction Of Gender Roles In The Novels Of Charlotte Bront by Michelle Dawn Lattanzio A dissertation submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy Department of English College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Co-Major Professor: William H. Scheuerle, Ph.D. Co-Major Professor: Marty Gould, Ph.D. Pat Rogers, Ph.D. Gurleen Grewal, Ph.D. Date of Approval: March 23, 2010 Keywords: liminal, myth, jung, psyche, feminist Copyright 2010, Michelle Dawn Lattanzio
Dedication This dissertation is dedicated in memoriam to my father, Thomas Daniel Lattanzio, b.1911 Â– d.2003, for teaching me by example, and for his constant encouragement, eter nal love, and unshakeable faith in me. I love you, Pop, and I hope I have made you proud. Â“With goodwill, all things are po ssible.Â” Â– Thomas D. Lattanzio
Acknowledgments I wish to thank everyone who has made this work possible through their scholarship, love, support, and unfailing belief in me, even when I faltered. My professors, colleagues, frie nds, and family have been incredibly generous in sharing thei r resources with me; know that you all have my eternal gratitude. I wish to than k Dr. William H. Scheuerle for his scholarship, leadership, compassion, an d patience during my Masters and Doctoral work at the University of Sout h Florida. My inte rest in Victorian literature began in his courses, and I owe my success to his unending support of my scholarly endeavors. I al so wish to thank Dr. Pat Rogers for his advice, support, and scholarship. I learned invaluable lessons in scholarship, teaching, writing, and publ ishing from Dr. Rogers, which have come to fruition in my own work. Many heartfelt thanks to Dr. Frances Auld for her friendship, keen in sights, scholarship, and fa ithful support. Thanks to my beloved husband, Jo n Hull, whose love, support, patience, and sense of humor has nourished my body and soul. My thanks also to Dr. George Feden, for his insightful analysis, compassionate support, and lessons imparted; you are indeed a wise and thoughtful Â”Greybea rd.Â” Thanks to Kandace Golas, MSW, LC SW, for helping me get to the finish line.
i Table of Contents Abstract .................................................................................... iiIntroduction ............................................................................... 1Chapter One: Enclosure ............................................................. 12Physical Spaces: Domestic Space, Stage Space, Landscape, and the Body ............................................... 12Cultural Spaces: Constructions of Class and Gender Roles ...... 43Narrative Space: Identity and the Knstlerroman .................. 61Psychic Space: Maidens ..................................................... 76Chapter Two: Tran sformation ..................................................... 85Physical Spaces: Domestic Space, Stage Space, Landscape and the Body ................................................ 85Cultural Spaces: Constructions of Class and Gender Roles .... 105Narrative Space: Identity and the Knstlerroman ................ 109Psychic Space: Mothers ................................................... 129Chapter Three: Emergence ........................................................ 143Physical Space: Domestic Space, Stage Space, Landscape and the Body .............................................. 143Cultural Space: Construction s of Class and Gender Roles ...... 152Narrative Space: Identity and the Knstlerroman ................ 155Psychic Space: Crones ..................................................... 159Conclusion .............................................................................. 164Tabula Ra sa ................................................................... 164Endnotes ................................................................................ 171 Works Cited ............................................................................ 178 About the Author ............................................................. End Page
ii Enclosure, Transformation Emergence: Space and the Construction of Gender Roles in the Novels of Charlotte Bront Michelle Lattanzio ABSTRACT I am interested in the construc tion and meaning of space in Charlotte BrontÂ’s novels, and more specifically the idea of enclosure, in abstract and concrete terms. In a concrete sense, I wish to investigate the physical spaces the women in Charlotte BrontÂ’s novels inhabit: their homes, gardens, workp laces, clothing, and their bodies. In an abstract sense, I wish to investigate the cultural, psychic, gender, and linguistic spaces they inhabit: the cultural images and conventions women are enclosed wi thin, the psychic space of the mind, and the narrative spaces they inhabit (and create). Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar, in their seminal text The Madwoman in the Attic focus on the patriarchal enclosure of female characters in Victorian texts. As ma ny Feminist critics of nineteenth century literature have noted (Vic inus, Agress, Auerbach), these enclosures are largely controlled by the patriarchy. Indeed, the
iii protagonists of Charlotte BrontÂ’s no vels reflect the entrapment of the feminine protagonists in a patriarchal world. However, focus on this entrap ment obscures the power that characters like Lucy Snowe, Jane Eyre, Shirley Keeldar, and Caroline Helstone generate from their encl osure experience. Each enclosure these three characters experiences fuels their education. Lucy, Jane, Shirley, and Caroline generate power and transformation of self from their time spent in these various enclosures. The education of these characters becomes the education for real women. In order to reclaim and reaffirm the value of enclosure for women, one may trace the positive notions of enclosure thro ugh the Jungian model of a threestage gestation of womenÂ’s rites of passage: enclosure, transformation, and emergence, as proposed by Bruc e Lincoln. This gestational process results in psychological and spiritual transformation. All four protagonists participate in many cycles of the gestational pattern on micro and macro levels This process results in their eventual transformation and emergenc e as wise women. It is vital to re-interpret the psychic and physical enclosures within Villette Shirley and Jane Eyre as spaces that shape the identity of Lucy Snowe, Caroline Helstone, Shirley Keeldar, and Jane Eyre.
1 Introduction I am interested in the construc tion and meaning of space in Charlotte BrontÂ’s novels, and more specifically the idea of enclosure, in abstract and concrete terms. In a concrete sense, I wish to investigate the physical spaces the women in Charlotte BrontÂ’s novels inhabit: their homes, gardens, wo rkplaces, their clothing, and their bodies. In an abstract sense, I wish to investigate the cultural, psychic, gender, and linguistic spaces they inhabit: the cultural images and conventions women are enclosed within, the psychic space of the mind, and the narrative spaces they inhabit (and create). Sandra R. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, in their seminal text The Madwoman in the Attic focus on the patriarchal enclosure of female characters in Victorian texts. As ma ny Feminist critics of nineteenthcentury literature have noted (Vic inus, Agress, Auerbach), these enclosures are largely controlled by the patriarchy.i Speaking of Charlotte Bront, Gilbert and Gubar no te, Â“We would argue that this is the vision she worked out in most of her novels, a vision of an indeterminate, usually female figure (who has often come Â‘from the kitchenÂ’ or some such placeÂ’) trapped Â– even buried Â– in the
2 architecture of a patriarchal soci ety, and imagining, dreaming or actually devising escape routes past walls, lawns, antlers, to the glittering town outsideÂ” (313).ii Indeed, the protagon ists of Charlotte BrontÂ’s novels, as well as those of her sisters, Anne and Emily, reflect the entrapment of the feminine prot agonists in a patriarchal world. However, valid as Sandra Gilb ert and Susan GubarÂ’s study is, focus on this entrapment obscures th e power that characters like Lucy Snowe, Jane Eyre, Caroline Hels tone, and Shirley Keeldar, in Villette Jane Eyre and Shirley respectively generate from their enclosure experience. For women generally, na rrative space must exist before the physical space. If a space for discourse on womenÂ’s issues comes to exist in the worlds of art and letters, and a new life narrative takes form out of such discourse, the space then becomes part of the cultural milieu, leading to the creati on of societal, ph ysical space. The retreat of Charlotte BrontÂ’s charac ters into freedom slips between the theoretical cracks. Lucy Snowe experiences enclosure within enclosure in Villette layers upon layers: the pensionnat building, which is a former convent, encloses her, as do the roles of governess and teacher, along with images of the feminine and the gender conventions that shape such cultural enclosur es. Jane shares some of LucyÂ’s experiences as a governess and teac her and is enclosed in various houses along her journey. Caroline learns about the enclosures of
3 teacher and governess from Mrs. Pryo r and Louis, respectively, and is enclosed in the Rectory with its attendant family graves surrounding the building. Shirley is enclosed in her manor house, Fieldhead, the Nunnwood, and in her liminal stat us between genders, as Captain Keeldar and the woman Shirley. Each enclosure these four characters experience fuels their education. Lucy, Jane, Caroline, and Shirley generate power and transformation of self from their time spent in these various enclosures. The educat ion of these characters becomes the education for real women. In order to reclaim and reaffi rm the value of enclosure for women, one may trace the positive notions of enclosure through the Jungian model of a three-stage gest ation of womenÂ’s rites of passage: enclosure, transformation, and emergence.iii This gestational process results in psychological and spiritua l transformation. Charlotte Bront, working from a tradition of women writers before herself, establishes in her narratives conceptions of spac es for women that are outside of the traditional female enclosure, the domestic sphere of the Â“angel in the house.Â” Charlotte Bront, and wo men writers of this period and beyond, construct their lives as narra tive, as art, in the enclosure of the narrative frame. This space is ge stational, generative space, for in this artistic, imaginative space they are free to create the kind of life they want.
4 Charlotte Bront and her characters Jane Eyre, Caroline Helstone, Shirley Keeldar, and Lucy Snowe construct their gendered lives in the narrative space, and so their narratives form part of a Â“usable pastÂ” for women in both Victorian and contemporary times (per Carol FlindersÂ’ notion). Jane Eyre Shirley, and Villette educate women about gender roles, in terms of how these roles are culturally constructed, and how to subvert those constructions to their own ends. In reconstructing their gender in claiming for themselves both masculine and feminine gendered id entities, they achieve psychic wholeness. In rewriting their gender roles in narrative, they are also re-ordering, re-writing, re-memberi ng their psyches Â– for isnÂ’t the psyche also text and space? All four protagonists participate in many cycles of the gestational pattern on smaller scale, all of whic h contribute to the larger pattern, resulting in their eventual transf ormation and emergence as wise women. It is vital to re-interpret the psychic and physical enclosures within Villette Shirley, and Jane Eyre as spaces that shape the identity of Lucy Snowe, Caroline Helstone, Shirley Keeldar, and Jane Eyre. Space no longer envelops these characters; they develop space, and from this development they reconfig ure their selves. This pattern may be seen to operate on two levels, which intermesh and form one larger spiral pattern, macro and micro levels.
5 On the macro level, LucyÂ’s journey in its entirety may be seen as a pattern of enclosure, transformati on, and emergence. She begins her narrative enclosed in the familiari ty of England, travels across the water to Belgium, where she is encl osed in the former convent-turnedschool where she is transformed by her various experiences (including her new vocation as a teacher, her love for Graham Bretton and Monsieur Paul, and writing her life narrative) and finally she emerges as a woman who has achieved psychic wholeness and balanced sense of gender. However, Lucy participates in many cycles of this pattern on a smaller scale, all of which in some way contribute to the transformation and eventual emergence as a wise woman. One example of several of this pattern working on a smaller scale is her enclosure, transformation, and em ergence in the school play for Madame BeckÂ’s fte. One may also look at her enclosure experiences in the garden alley as complete cy clic episodes unto themselves that, when taken all together, feed into the larger gestation pattern. Jane Eyre, the protagonist of the text of the same name, is like Lucy Snowe in Villette in that she seeks the same sense of belonging and centeredness that Lucy desires. Lu cy is an inverse of Jane; in her cynicism, she allows herself to feel less. JaneÂ’s journey, like LucyÂ’s, is one of education. Jane will be educat ed in many ways: in the ways of the world, similar to Anne BrontÂ’s Agnes Grey, in the ways of love,
6 like Lucy, Shirley, and Caroline, in book-learning, in enduring the inevitable hurts and stings of life with grace, and in spiritual ways, also like Lucy, Shirley, and Caroline, as all four women learn to revere Nature as a spiritual teacher and a provider of divine sustenance. JaneÂ’s journey, as are CarolineÂ’s, ShirleyÂ’s, and LucyÂ’s, is also one toward psychic wholeness. All three women will learn to balance their passion with reason and to lear n to endure slights and wounds to their characters and emotional core s with grace and courage. Like Lucy, Jane must learn to balance th ese two opposing forces Â– but Lucy and Jane start from different plac es. Jane starts from an inborn orientation toward passion (note that her Uncle Eyre goes to Madeira, a hot place, to earn his fortune), an d Lucy starts from a place of cold, of reason and ch ill observation. Caroline begins her journey as a nave young girl whose sheltered life in the Rectory has kept her from experiences that fuel emotional and intellectual maturati on. Her Uncle, Mr. Helstone, has retarded her growth with his me thodology of child-rearing, which amounts to emotional and intellectual neglect. In a prime example, he tells her to go forth and amuse herself and cease asking him questions about her future, to which she re plies, Â“With what? My doll? ( Shirley 191).Â” It will take the efforts of Shirley Keeldar, the matron of Fieldhead, Mrs. Pryor, Robert M oore, and others to expand her
7 conceptualizations of identity, femi ninity, love, and desire. Caroline is first introduced as a woman similar to the picture of Mr. HelstoneÂ’s late wife hanging above the mantle. While Mrs. Helstone is beautiful of feature, she is bereft of spirit; her face is Â“passive,Â” and Caroline says she was known as a Â“remarkably still, silent personÂ” (221). Caroline, through the wisdom and experien ce gained in her enclosure experiences, will construct an identi ty independent of the Angel in the House, as represented by her AuntÂ’s likeness.iv Shirley Keeldar, unlike Caroline, bears no marked resemblance to Mary Cave, the deceased wife of Mr. Helstone referred to in the previous paragraph. As Mr. Helstone describes her to Caroline before CarolineÂ’s introduction at Fieldhead, Shirley is Â“a fine girlÂ” with a Â“sprightly spiritÂ” and there Â“nothing lackadaisical about herÂ” (193). Indeed, Shirley is no Angel in the Ho use; rather, she is the Captain in the house (200). Bestowed with a manÂ’s name, and as she notes, a manÂ’s position (200), Shirley is introduced as a strong woman of means and purpose, assuming her role at the helm of her manor house and its attendant businesses. However, Shirley must learn to reconcile and embrace the masculin e and feminine aspects of her persona, a task that is accomplished by her education in matters of business and love in the course of th e novel. Shirley speaks of her dual conscience, her divided self: Captain Keeldar, the public lord-of-the-
8 manor, and the private woman, wh o feels she has a Â“base alloy of cowardiceÂ” in her composition (264-265). All four women are wild women in gestation, waiting to come in to their own power, their own ascendancies. These protagonists are learning to grasp and exercise powe r, and they both must learn the difference between power-over (which correlates with their upbringing) and power-from-within (which they learn after they develop their identities and values).v The three characters also learn when to exert each type of power Â– what situat ions call for which kind. Charlotte Bront, in the process of inscribing her characterÂ’s journeys of selfeducation, educates real women, fr om the Victorian ag e to present day.vi Jane, Caroline, Shirley, and Lu cy undergo underworld journeys toward their psychic goals of unifica tion of the shadow self and ego. Each woman must be broken down completely and then rebuilt on a stronger, wiser frame. Jane breaks down after her failed attempt at marriage with Rochester, a flaw of her judgment and his. This process makes sense as they are planning to build a life together, to be bone of bone and flesh of flesh Â– each must then be broken down and rebuilt, and Jane in part becomes the rebuilder of RochesterÂ’s life and persona. Lucy breaks down in af ter spending the long summer in isolation in the pensionnat, after she tries to find God and herself in the Catholic Church and the sacramen t of confession. In her failure to
9 find her identity in an extant way, she realizes that her values and concept of self must come from within, meaning that she must generate such things from her experiences. Caroline begins from a similar point to Jane, in that she is nave and inexperienced in the ways of human relationships and must learn hard lessons through painful experiences. Shirley turns ill, and attempts to hide her illness (of body and spirit) (497-499), brought on by a bi te from a mad dog of the same name as the chapter, PhÂœbe. The chapter title and dogÂ’s name are significant as PhÂœbe in Greek mythol ogy is a Titaness, the daughter of Uranus and Gaia, and grandmother of Apollo and Artemis (Farrar 261). The implied reference to Shirley as a Titaness recalls her visions of the Great Mother in chapter seven (319321). In her illness, Shirley must reconcile the dual aspects of her pe rsona and come to terms with her love for Louis Moore, her tutor. Each female protagonist is ultima tely in search of a home of some kind. In JaneÂ’s case, she is at home in RochesterÂ’s heart, though he must come to understand Jane before she may settle there: Â“Wherever you are is my home, my only homeÂ” ( Jane Eyre 248). Jane will discover relatives into whose ho me she is welcomed, but she must eventually make her way back to her true home with Rochester at Ferndean. In LucyÂ’s case, she sear ches endlessly for a home, in her
10 native country and abroad, in family and with strangers, and finally is granted one of her own by Paul. Ca roline has a home in the rectory that she is not particularly Â“at home Â” in, as she is being raised by an uncle to whom she is not genially a ttached. Caroline is not at ease in the Â“windowed graveÂ” of the Rectory ( Shirley 399), but she feels at home in the Nunnwood and in garden spaces, enclosures where she is close to nature. However, we may notice in Shirley how the home of the woods, of Nature, is replac ed in the end by a manmade, industrialistÂ’s dream of Â“home,Â” paved over, sooty walkways, with spare homes lining the walk and the trees all gone. This patriarchal view of what constitutes home is mu ch different from, say, Fieldhead, with its gardens and farmland, and it s matron Shirley KeeldarÂ’s love of the woods. Jane Eyre, Lucy Snowe, Shirley Keeldar, and Caroline Helstone are women involved in journeys to selfhood, an integrated identity arising from their enclosure experien ces. Perhaps the character Shirley from the novel of the same name best sums up the goal of these women when she says she is Â“a woman, and something moreÂ” Â– she has a Â“touch of manhoodÂ” and feels that she can do a manÂ’s job ( Shirley 198). The heroines must lear n to achieve this gendered balance in their conceptualizations of identity, no mean feat in the Victorian milieu. For a period that is full of hope for the future
11 generally and exults in its many accomplishments, a period in which the body of knowledge on so many subjects expands vastly, gendered identity for women Â– and men Â– seemingly remains mired in traditional viewpoints, as reflected in the arts at that time. Charlotte BrontÂ’s female protagonists forge new paths for women in their life narratives, opening up the gendered identities available to Victorian women and beyond, and for this reason it is imperative to explore in detail the modalities of these three texts.
12 Chapter One: Enclosure Physical Spaces: Domestic Space, Stage Space, Landscape, and the Body As are many other real women in her era, the characters Lucy Snowe, Caroline Helstone, Shirley Keeldar, and Jane Eyre find themselves enclosed physically, in ge ographical locales, in nature, in the domestic spaces of houses, garre ts, and gardens, and on the space of the stage. The journal Parabola Â’s issue Â“HomeÂ” (31:4) deals with Â“homeÂ” as a concept, and some of the material reflects the concept of Â“homeÂ” in Charlotte BrontÂ’s nove ls, from the concept of being Â“at homeÂ” somewhere, to the physical body as home (as in the phrase Â“home is where the heart isÂ”) and home in a spiritual sense, particularly regarding the spaces of parish homes and churches. Such locations should function as spirit ual homes for the congregation but are generally anything but homey. Nature always seems to offer a more fulfilling spiritual Â“homeÂ” to th e protagonists in Charlotte BrontÂ’s novels than Christian sanctuaries.
13 Indeed, the first two paragraphs of LucyÂ’s narrative are concerned with space, the space of her godmotherÂ’s home, both geographic and domestic. She indicates the rootedness of her godmotherÂ’s family, Â“Bretton of Bre tton,Â” their connection to the land itself, the family name being one an d the same with the ancient town of their many-years dwelling. Ther e are, however, two worlds in Villette as a novel and also in Villette, the city. The English world is defined by its notions of propriety, and is proper and exacting, while the Continental world is one of intr igue, indulgence, and fluidity. The Bretton household is a microcosm of provincial England for Lucy, with its orderly furnishings and resident s, neatness, and cleanliness, a distinctly Protestant place wher e Â“Sundays and holidays seemed always to abideÂ” (3). The first chap ter of the novel is titled Â“Bretton,Â” further underscoring the story of Lucy as rooted in this time and place, in both a historical and cultural sense. The space of Villette, of the Continent, is a foreign world to Lu cy in many ways, not the least of which is the Catholic underpinnings of the culture. Her first experience as she arrives off the boat is one of foreboding and confusion; the very air of the night seems to Â“rebukeÂ” her for her Â“presumptionÂ” in being there, a stranger in a strange land without even appropriate coin to tip her commissionaire upon arrival at an inn or any facility with the local tongue (52). LucyÂ’s impression s of Villette in this introductory
14 chapter to her new home are full of disparaging comments that contrast sharply with her idealized English home: hotel floors are deemed unclean, the canals along her arduous journey are slimy like Â“half-torpid green snakesÂ” and the men she encounters in her search for the Villette inn are Â“plebian in soulÂ” (53-57). Eight years after leaving Bretton, upon the heels of her suffering the apparent loss of her kinsfolk an d before she ventures to Belgium, Lucy is invited to enter the enclos ure of Miss MarchmontÂ’s home as her companion. Speaking to the meaning of this time and space, Helene Moglen notes in her text Charlotte Bront: The Self Conceived : Psychic withdrawal bound Bront to her home and imprisoned her in the cavern beneath the sea: the tiny space which was the vestige of the surviving selfÂ—d rowned yet still alive. Psychic withdrawal makes Lucy welcome the undemanding emotional life at Bretton and ultimately it caus es her to accept, when it is offered, the position of companion to Miss Marchmont. Here too the dwarfed and stifled ego fi nds security in the narrow boundaries of claustrophobic space. (202) Lucy has just endured a time of grea t troubles Â– a time of Â“cold, of danger, of contention,Â” which she co ntextualizes for the reader in the imagery of drowning souls upon a lo st ship (31). As Moglen notes, Â“Lucy, like her creator, is a Â‘survivo r.Â’ Her identification is more with
15 the dead than with the livingÂ” (197) Moglen observes that Paul is a fellow survivor, too: Â“Paul has sacrif iced everythingÂ…He too, has been a survivor Â– identifying with the de ad. He has lived as a monk, in a space as limited as the one which enclosed Lucy and Miss MarchmontÂ” (220). It seems that psychically Lucy is floundering, torn by her grief and her anger with her situation. Se rving as a companion to a cripple is not appealing at all to Lucy. Her life will be reduced to, as she says, Â“To live here, in this close room, th e watcher of suffering, sometimes, perhaps, the butt of temper, through all that was to come of my youthÂ” (32). However, at this stage in her life she has little choice but to enter the enclosure of Miss Marc hmontÂ’s home and learn the lessons inherent in being a Â“w atcher of suffering.Â” Lucy is an itinerant wanderer by circumstance and not by personal habit. Left to her own devices, had Miss Marchmont lived on, she would have likely spent the year s of life tending to her disabled matron. As her circumstances are, she has no family left to contact (so she thinks at this point), and must find her own way in the world, a perpetual outsider in search of a home and acceptance. She will find an eventual home, and acceptance of a kind, in Belgium through the hands of Providence and Mssr Paul of the Pensionnat. Lucy gravitates toward the gard en at the Pensionnat, and it becomes a key enclosure for her tr ansformation. The garden bears
16 some relationship to the original Garden Â– the Garden of Eden Â– in that Lucy will experience a comi ng-of-age in this space and will confront forces both good and evil in its realms. It is in the garden that she is enclosed and undergoes trials and trauma that lead to transformations in her person such as her meetings with Paul, Madame Beck, and the Nun. In the garden, Lucy will incubate and then bury certain dreams (her letters from Gr aham Bretton), from which she reemerges with new self-knowledge an d sharpened wisdom. Lucy finds a particular enclosure within the encl osure of the garden that comes to serve as her peculiar territory Â– the Â“lÂ’allee defendue,Â” which in part forms the barrier between the girlsÂ’ and boysÂ’ schools. She reclaims the alle dfendue for herself from the mold and fungi, from the overgrowth, and makes this shad y and narrow walk her own space (100-101). While here, she reflects on the moon and stars, as old friends from her childhood. In the novel Shirley the home of the woods, of Nature, is replaced in the end by a manmade, industrialistÂ’s dream of Â“homeÂ” with paved, sooty walkways, spar e homes lining the walk, and the trees all gone. Nunnely Woods, an enchanted place of old trees and woodland mosses, was said to be a haunt of Robin Hood, and the ruins of a nunnery are buried in the cup of a dell at the heart of the woods (212-215). The enclosure of Nunnely Wood s, beloved by Caroline and
17 Shirley as a liminal space and a space that framed the landÂ’s history, is gone, its frame broken irrevocably by the mill owners. Nature as a term has multiple meanings in these three novels; it may mean the natural world, or the nature of humankind, or may engender both meanings simultaneously. In Shirley Caroline is haunted by the ghost of her father, in a psychic sense. He enclosed her in a garret as a child, on occasion even letting her go without food, and the last time she saw him he threatened to kill her as she was a burden to him (102-103). This sounds like a version of the Bluebeard tale. In her writing about the Bluebeard archetype, Clarissa Pinkola Estes notes that Bluebeard is a pr edator, one who seeks power over another, and manifests as an aspect of the psyche in men and women Â– a contra naturam, or Â“for ce against natureÂ” (Estes 40). Reflecting the varied values of anch oritic spaces, Caroline tells Shirley of the graveyard that underlies part s of the Rectory, confesses that she dreams melancholy dreams some times, and that she rather longs to leave the confines of the Rectory (240). Graves lie under the kitchens, completing a circle of lif e and death, nourishment for and of the body and the soil. Caroline is ro oted physically and psychically in this space, but her roots are growing stagnant; to branch out, literally and metaphorically, she must esca pe the space of the Rectory.
18 Kathleen Tillotson, in her article on Jane Eyre makes a key observation about Jane that applies to the other female protagonists as well: A creature dependent, captive, ye t with the liberty of adventure in imagination Â– a window to lo ok out of, a book to read and pictures on which to build fanc ies. The double impression of constraint and freedom is burnt in to the mind in those first few paragraphs; it is accompanied by the symbol (to become recurrent) of the window. (28) In a passage reminiscent of the opening of Jane Eyre Caroline is enclosed in a window-alcove, doin g needlework (seemingly generative work that is forced charity work). Sh e is like Jane Eyre in the opening of said novel, exchanging her needlework for the book (394). The attitude of the passage is similar, with its desolate, lifeless character. JaneÂ’s window seat and book, however imbued with cold, remote imagery, opens into a space that sh e can occupy in her imagination, a space that takes her away from he r dismal life in the Reed home. In Jane Eyre Jane is as isolated at times as Shirley and Caroline are in Shirley in enclosures that upon exam ination are as anchoritic in their construction and atmosphere as LucyÂ’s, ShirleyÂ’s, and CarolineÂ’s yet she does not associate her experiences with the monastic life. To
19 wit, the garden enclosure at Lowood is described as a Â“convent-likeÂ” garden, a place for the inmates to repa ir for pleasure and work (50-51). The idea of the convent garden is a repeated theme in all three texts. In each instance, the Â“conve ntÂ” garden space is a liminal space that frames significant experience s for each character. Frequently, these experiences are of a spiritual nature, blending elements of pagan and Christian themes. Jane is indeed religious, in a spiritual sense, but she is no nun, nor is she haunted by nuns real, historical, or imagined, as are Lucy and several characters from Shirley Jane has a religion of her own, with one foot in the pagan world of nature and its spirits and one in the Christian tradition of her society and time. If Jane resembles any kind of female spirit ual figure, it is a fairy, as her relationship to nature and the cons tructions of her by others in the text bear out. As John Reed notes in Victorian Conventions Â“In England, serious employment of fairy-tale de vices served to unite esthetic and moral elementsÂ” (29). Reed elucidates how existing fairy tales function in Victorian literature. In the instan ce of Jane Eyre, this function is about the tale of how a fairy child comes of age and finds her fairy king in the process. Jane EyreÂ’s st ory is largely one of fantasy Â– there are many fantastic elements to the plot, and the idea of Jane as a fairy-human sort of changeling fi ts well into the overall fantasy.
20 However much of Jane Eyre is fantas y; there is real education for women in her story. Fantasy can and does in form reality. Â“Lif e, viewed as an imitation of Christ, an AesopÂ’s tale, a PilgrimÂ’s Progress, or a fairy tale, is still life shaped from the quarry of experience, still a Â‘making order in the chaos of impressions,Â’ towa rd a moral endÂ” (Reed 32). Jane Eyre opens with Jane in the enclosure of the Reed household, similar to that of Lucy Snowe in the Bretton household. Jane notes that she does not like lo ng walks in the outdoors Â– perhaps she is Â“too exposedÂ” on such walks? Speaking of the opening scene in Gateshead, Maurianne Adams in her article Â“ Jane Eyre : WomenÂ’s Estate,Â” says: The curtain is a barrier which serves to protect Jane, to isolate her, and to reinforce her identifi cation both with interior space (she daydreams over her book) and with the barren landscape on the other side of the uncurtained windowpaneÂ….It does not require great psychological insigh t to understand JaneÂ’s coping devices and their image-equiva lents in the inner and outer landscapes of JaneÂ’s fantasy and social worlds. JaneÂ’s estrangement from social and familial life is imaged by her protective isolation from domestic interiors, while her spirit is constantly vigilant to search out spiritual affiliation in the outer
21 landscape Â– she meets both Helen Burns and Edward Rochester outdoors. (184) Jane is enclosed, but she has a wind ow on the world. She is in an enclosure that has windows of oppo rtunity. Her connection to nature through the window will be her lifeline, both now and later. Jane will eventually look out the window at Lowood Â– the enclosure with windows of opportunity Â– and aspire to liberty. Throughout the novel, Jane retreats into enclosures to find her freedom. Jane is Â“shrined in double reti rementÂ” in the window seat, with the red curtain drawn about her (910). She has carefully selected a book with pictures, repeating the image of a window into another world, a frame within a frame. She will escape into the world contained in the book of birds through the pi ctures. The glass of the window is Â“protectingÂ” but not Â“shelteringÂ” Jane from the cold day. As Jane studies the day through the glass, we can see that even as a small child she shows a propensity for analysis and an eagerness to understand things. The image of the red curtain that separates Jane in the alcove from the Reed family has significan ce regarding JaneÂ’s transformative journey. Red is the color associated with the Mother archetype in pagan mythology, and in the text it is accordingly a transformative color for Jane (Farrar 36). In the Red Room, a bed rests on raised
22 pillars, curtained with deep red curtains, like a Â“tabernacle.Â” We are told the room is Â“chill,Â” Â“silent,Â” and Â“solemnÂ” (14-15). This too, as noted by many critics, has all the ea rmarks of an initiatory rite (like a menstrual hut) (Figes 128). Helene Moglen, speaking from a Jungian point of view notes: It is a womb-world from which sh e is born into a new state of being. Within it she is overwhelmed by the feelings and fantasies of the spirit-self. Catching sight of herself in the mirror she does, in fact, think that she has become an inhabitant of that other universe. She feels herself to be totally alienated from the living, thrust alone into a world of th e dead and the supernatural. She loses her sense of the boundaries of her identityÂ…Her fainting fit marks the end of the submissi on of her childhood and the beginning of a new stage of growth. (111) We learn that Mr. Reed died in this room, consecrating it as a liminal place, and as Jane looks in the mi rror at her reflection she sees an Â“imp,Â” a Â“fairyÂ” spirit looking back at her. Perhaps this is the Â“Mirror StageÂ” experience of JaneÂ’s developm ent, where she learns to identify the Â“IÂ” and Â“not-IÂ” (Lacan, Ecrits Â“The Mirror StageÂ”). Note that the windows in the re d room are described as heavily festooned with draperies with the b linds always drawn (so the windows are sealed shut), forming almost a separate dimensional space from
23 the rest of the house. Speaking of the mirror image in the Red Room incident, Maurianne Adams states: Jane has pulled inward, and withdrawn from a physical self occupying social and familial space at Gateshead, into a Â‘placelessÂ’ or status Â– and sp ace-free spiritual and moral identity, occupying thin air. Jane withdraws into her imagination and her spiritual integrity, a process by which ego is reduced to its irreducible and invulnerable inner core. Withdrawal, however, is not to be understood as simp ly negative. Although the elfin and visionary mirror image also presents to Jane an image of terrifying supernaturalism, this e ffect is the pagan antecedent for Helen BurnÂ’s mystic and Christian anticipation of that happy day when the spirit would be freed from the fetters of the flesh. (186) Expounding further upon AdamsÂ’ point, one must note Jane is a true mystic, even though she doesnÂ’ t necessarily identify herself as such, self-identifying as a Christian. She is in tune with the natural world Â– she observes the sunrises and sunsets, the storms and the winds, and is friendly with all ambassadors of Nature (dogs, horses, other animals, heavenly bodies such as the sun and moon and stars). It is interesting to note that Jane has an affinity with elements of the natural world from small to large, from Earth bound to Heavenly Â– a sign of her psychic maturity and growth in wisdom. Jane makes her
24 bed in the moors, is a friend to an imals, is comforted by the weather, and looks to the heavenly bodies and the heavens themselves for answers and succor. JaneÂ’s final jo urney back to Rochester, her reunification with her other half, is whispered on the winds, its discourse carried back and forth in this fa shion. Jane may well call herself a witch, if she so chose Â– she has ea rned the title of Â“wise oneÂ” by novelÂ’s end. The type of enclosure that suits Jane best is clearly nature itself. Jane is Â“at homeÂ” in the natural world. When at Thornfield, she describes the hills as providing an enclosure of Â“embraceÂ” (102). Rochester, however, seems to recogn ize at the end Nature as Home as he takes to his mossy home in the woods. Enclosures in the novels take on forms beyond domestic spaces and landscapes; one must also cons ider the enclosures of the body and mind. Lucy, Caroline, Shirley, and Jane are enclosed by, and enclose others, in their gaze. Speaki ng of Lucy Snowe, Kate Millett in her comments on Villette excerpted from Sexual Politics notes: She is a pair of eyes watching society; weighing, ridiculing, judgingÂ…Lucy sees everythi ng and reports, cynically, compassionately, truthfully, analyt ically. She is no one, because she lacks any trait that might rend er her visible: beauty, money, conformity. Only a superb mind imperfectly developed and a soul
25 so omnivorously large it casts every other character into the shadows, she is the great except ion, the rest only the great mediocre rule. (256) All four protagonists have keen powe rs of observation. They are also enclosed in the gaze of other char acters, both corporeally present and present in spirit and image only. Through her detailed descriptions, Lucy shows the reader early on in the story that she has keen powers of observation. Many of the other ch aracters are enclosed in her gaze, with Lucy offering commentary on thei r looks, motivations, and actions. In an early example, Lucy obse rves the small child who invades the domestic peace of the Bretton home, Paulina Mary (Polly), with a wary eye. Lucy, clinging tightly to her construction of an emotionally cold, unflappable self, cannot abide the barely suppressed emotion of Polly grieving the absence of her father. Gazing down on Polly the night before she is bound for the Co ntinent to reunite with her beloved father, Lucy considers how this tender-natured little creature will tolerate the Â“shocks and repulses, and humiliations and desolations, which books, and my own reason, te ll me are prepared for all flesh?Â” (30). Lucy is keenly aware, even at a young age herself, through book knowledge and her reasoning fr om her observations of human experience, that life is constructed of pain and disappointment as much as it is peace and order. Speaking of Lucy, Helene Moglen comments:
26 It is not until she learns to tr ust her imagination as she must trust her feelings and intuitions th at she can become Â‘reliableÂ’ as a narrator; Â‘wholeÂ’ as a woman. In a remarkably contemporary way, the fiction strives for its form as the heroine searches out her identity. (200) However aware Lucy is as a child of the nature of life, it is as an adult, as a Crone, that she is able to construct her narrative. Lucy is interested in observing people who are passionate and animated Â– such as Polly when she around Gr aham. Otherwise she says she would not watch Polly (she would be uninteresting) (20). It is telling of her true nature, even so early on in th e novel, that she is interested in observing passionate people. This w ill be part of LucyÂ’s journey to psychic wholeness; she will have to learn to accept the emotional, passionate part of herself, the part which Paul notes in her countenance the first time her sees her, later in the novel. For now, though, this attitude of coolness serves Lucy well. Paul, using his skill in physiognom y, is asked to translate the narrative inscribed on LucyÂ’s face. As the reader shall see later in the novel, Lucy becomes equally adept at translating the expressions on PaulÂ’s face, also. Each of them sh ares a great skill in the power of observation. Paul is said to see th rough Lucy Â– she notes that a Â“veil would be no veil to himÂ” (60). He diagnoses her nature, decides that
27 she has a bifurcated nature, of both good and evil, and that either way may prevail. Paul is the first person to notice these two forces in Lucy, and he is the only person to no tice and comment upon these two forces in her throughout the rest of the novel. From early in the novel, Lucy sees herself as a mere looker-on at life, and as such she can be seen frequently observing other people (131). As Robert A. Colby notes in his article Â“ Villette : The Life of the Mind,Â” Â“Lucy is really observing he rself in the process of composing, creating characters and re-creat ing herself, and one understands therefore why she is so preoccupied with the workings of the mind and the imaginationÂ” (42-43). LucyÂ’s gaze encloses all of the main characters in the novel at one point or other, and from her observations of others she picks up threads to weave into her own life narrative. Her observations are fruitful in guiding he r path with regard to other people and herself. She finds out what ma kes them tick and how to handle them, as well as defining aspects of herself. Through the information she gleans from her observations, and he r analysis of such, Lucy becomes much more than a mere looker-on at life. Such a concept of self remains part of her, but she has begun to gr ow beyond this li miting notion. As the reader will see later in the novel, she becomes, with PaulÂ’s help, the directress of her own sc hool. A school directress is certainly a sort of enclosure, but Lucy ma kes the space a freedom.
28 Lucy, seeing her own reflection in a mirror as she contemplates her proposed life with Miss Marchmont, determines that her Â“blightÂ” is external Â– that she still has life at her core (32). It is an important moment, as she has appears in mour ning clothes, still wrapped in the shroud of her grief; th e image Lucy sees of herself is like that of a ghost, Â“a faded, hollowed-eyed vi sion,Â” seemingly not far removed from the grave herself. Millet, in commenting on LucyÂ’s mirror images, says Â“Born to a situation where she is subject to life-and-death judgments based on artificial standard s of beauty, Lucy is subject to a compulsive mirror obsession, whereby each time she looks in the glass she denies her existence Â– she does not appear in the mirrorÂ” (262). She recognizes the externality of the condition, however, and is aware of her own vitality buried under layers of suffering and grief. At this point in her life, Lucy he rself knows much about suffering, perhaps, as she insinuates in the chapterÂ’s opening page, more so than other young women her own age. Lucy, as we have seen from the previous chapters, learns as much through observation as she does experience. Observation in these novels encompasses much more than observing ones self or fellow humans; Nature is also a key entity for observation. In Shirley we see that the sky functions as a portent of things to come (19). The curate, Ma lone, does not notice the omens in
29 the sky, and it is noted that he is not given to observing Nature closely. Indeed, this kind of ob servation seems to be gendered feminine in the novels, or is a repr esentation of a feminine gendered image, such as in Robert MooreÂ’s vision of Eden, where he sees a Â“visionÂ” that Â“glides across remote vistasÂ”; though his reverie is cut short, we can rest assured his vision is Caroline (292). We may see the import of the fema le gaze in many examples in the novel. Mrs. Pryor remarks on the picture of Mr. HelstoneÂ’s late wife hanging above the mantle (221); whil e Mrs. Helstone is beautiful of feature, she is bereft of spirit; her face is Â“passive,Â” and Caroline says she was known as a Â“remarkably still, silent person.Â” As such, she is the Angel in the House, still watching over the domestic proceedings in her space. This image functions as a central tenet of CarolineÂ’s education, particularly as rendered by her Uncle. In the first meeting between Caroline and Uncle Helstone in chapter seven, in asking after her activities that day, he remands her to Â“stick to the needleÂ—learn shirt-making and gown-making, and pie-crust-making, and youÂ’ll be a clever woman some dayÂ” (98-99). Four chapters later, in response to her request to become a governess, he calls such an idea a Â“feminine fancyÂ” and tells her to Â“run away and amuse yourself,Â” to which Caroline replies tellingly, Â“With what ? My doll?Â” (191). According to her UncleÂ’s view of life, Â“cleverÂ” wo men should toil in the domestic
30 universe, Â“amuseÂ” themselves with something other than intelligent conversation, and certainly never yearn to perform work outside of their own home. Regarding the Angel in the Hous e, the conceptual image of woman as alternatively heavenly and demonic permeates all of the Bront novels (Auerbach, Woman and the Demon 9). Robert sees Caroline as the Virgin Mary and tells her that his mother was a Roman Catholic (606). Litanies of the Virgin come to his mind, and he recites some of them to her in French (t he Celestial Rose, the Queen of the Angels). RobertÂ’s twin, Louis, also sees his beloved in an angelic light. Louis compares the Â“utteranceÂ” of Shir leyÂ’s eye, seen but not heard, to the language of Angels in heaven during the silent period (611). He also says her shoulders wear Â“a goddess-grace,Â” and though he worships Nature he would prefer to behold her through a wife (616). Shirley combines the capricious spirit of the Fae with the classic beauty of the angel figure. Shirley and Caro line hide in a bower covered with hawthorns awaiting MooreÂ’s passage bidding him to make them a proper good-bye; upon seeing them he pronounces them as fairies (315-316). Learning to reconcile th ese two metaphors of womanhood, the angel and the demon, is a ke y part of the work of reconciling aspects of the self, part of the educat ion for all four female protagonists.
31 Gazing and looking are other venue s for education in the novels. Upon spying on Fieldhead, Carolin e sees Shirley and Robert Moore walking together and chatting ( 233-234). She considers them lovers, Â“happy spiritsÂ” not of this world in their union, and considers herself to be a Â“poor, doomed mortalÂ” of this wo rld, with no spirit, hiding in the darkness. Who is the watcher, and who is the watched? Caroline says that when she tries to observe Robert closely, she notices that he is watching her (275). Moore and Caroline meet up at the tea service, and Caroline once again feels the pene tration of his gaze, described as thought it were a daguerreotype impr inted by lightning (308). Gaze is always key in this relationsh ip. Continuing the theme of looking/gazing, Caroline looks into Sh irleyÂ’s eyes to try to ascertain the secret of her eagle-eyed precisio n vision and looks to find Moore in ShirleyÂ’s eyes (313).vii Mirrors are key frames for discovery in the novels. WJT Mitchell in his article Â“Space, Ideology an d Literary RepresentationÂ” notes: It is hardly surprising, then, that womenÂ’s novels are obsessed not only with inner spaces of domestic architecture, the opportunities for psychic projection in the attics, and closets of Gothic mansions, but also with the paintings, mirrors, windows, and vistas that that open onto secondary, virtual spaces within these spaces. (98)
32 In an example from Shirley Moore has a long discu ssion with Shirley, extracting from her the presumed ca use of her illness (a bite from a mad dog; 517). He notes their image in the mirror, illuminated by firelight, and declares the differenc e between the two. The mirror as object is multifunctional in the nove ls, serving as a reflection of the present reality and also as a scrying tool. Robert puts himself in the place of a woman in the nineteen th century, looking to marry for money and not love (532-533). Even wo rse, he presumes that that is ok, as he believes Shirley loves hi m. Shirley sees through him, of course, and calls him on his presumptio ns. Robert says of Shirley, Â“Her words were a mirror in which I sa w myselfÂ” (534). She reflects his language back to him, as a therapist does to a client. Another parallel between Jane and Lucy is the issue of the gaze. Both girls are noted for their powe rs of observation, the way they watch people, and both have great powers of analysis and cunning attributed to them by way of their direct, penetrating gazes. Note that Jane is an observer of life as is Lucy Snowe. Jane is accused by John Reed of watching and plotting underhanded events (28). The preceding conversation among Mr. Br ocklehurst, Mrs. Reed, and Jane is continued in the look Mrs. Reed gi ves Jane afterward, and it is this communication that fuels the im pending showdown scene between
33 Jane and Mrs. Reed, wherein Jane utters her truths clearly for the first time (38-39). As much as Jane, Lucy, Shir ley, and Caroline are keen observers, they too are much under ob servation of one kind or another in the course of the novels. Dilating upon the issues of observation and spaces, and putting description ahea d of narrative, from the opening sentence of the novel WJT Mitchell notes: The possibility of action, understood as self-initiated movement in space, is continually undermined. In its place we find the representation of vision, of gazing, speculation, and observation, a tendency even more pronounced in Villette, where figures of espi onage and surveillance govern the ubiquitous passages of descr iption. If Jane Eyre is the heroine as painter, she is also the narrator as seer. (100) Jane does prove to be a sort of seer, in that she can see clearly the essential nature of people upon meeting them, and the prophetic nature of her dreams and artworks. In Jane Eyre Rochester is constantly watching Jane closely for clues to her essential nature. Upon her formal presentation to Mr. Rochester as his new hire, he examines her closely. He cannot tell her age for certain and has her play the piano and examines her artwork. He asks her, Â“Where did you
34 get your copies?Â” to which she replie s, Â“out of my head.Â” Her pictures come from her visions seen with her Â“spiritual eyeÂ” (127-128). Jane and Rochester are in consta nt observation of each other, absorbed in each otherÂ’s mysterie s from the very beginning of their relationship. Jane reads RochesterÂ’s face and sees that the Â“organÂ” of benevolence is small. Rochester asks Jane if there is any hope of his transformation from Â“India-rubberÂ” to flesh (134-135). From the start, Rochester sees in Jane a certain wisdom whose depths he is incited to plumb. Rochester reads JaneÂ’s mental replies in her countenance Â– he warns her that he can read the lang uage of her eyes (138). In the guise of a Gypsy who has come to tell fortunes at Thornfied, Rochester reads JaneÂ’s face and hands (183203). This idea of the eyes as windows to the soul is clearly a refl ection of courtly love conventions, and indeed, Jane is an object of desire for Rochester that he cannot possess but may idolize; indeed, he later attempts to make an Â“idolÂ” of Jane later in the novel, when he st ubbornly insists on plying her with unwanted gifts (270-272). Jane talks about how RochesterÂ’s features draw her feelings from her and fetter them in his (176-177). Jane considers herself akin to Rochester in terms of their nature if not wealth and class. Recalling the dual meaning of the word Â“natureÂ” in the texts, she says it is a Â“blasphemy against natureÂ” for her to consider otherwise. The germs
35 of JaneÂ’s love for Rochester ar e revived, and grow Â“green and strongÂ”Â— she says Â“he is not of thei r kind;Â— I believe his is of mine.Â” The plant imagery is significant, as it ties Rochester to Jane as a type of Green Man to his Fairy kin.viii Jane has a psychic streak in her that is perhaps a legacy of her fairy blood. Her dreams are portents of things to come. Jane looks upon the veil that Rochester has bought for her Â– she discusses RochesterÂ’s thought-process in sele cting it, and his responses to her objections, and he calls her a Â“witchÂ” because she has read him well (283). Eerie winds blow as Jane dreams her first dream of barriers and division from Rochester of being burdened with a child and chasing after Rochester. In her second dream she envisions a ruined Thornfield, home to bats and owls Jane wanders through the grassgrown enclosure still with the child and she climbs the walls to glimpse Rochester in the distance, when she falls and loses the child. Bertha penetrates JaneÂ’s bedroom and rends JaneÂ’s veil in two pieces. Jane sees Bertha looking in the mirror Â– Jane says Bertha looks like a vampire (a Â“foul German specter Â– the VampyreÂ”). Bertha comes up to Jane and stares at her face, mirroring the action of Jane looking in the mirror (285-286). Rochester has told Jane that when they have been married a year and a day he w ill tell her the truth of things. In pagan traditions, a handfasting may last for a year and a day. Also,
36 initiation into pagan traditions gene rally last for a year and a day. In effect, Rochester is proposing a Pagan marriage ritual to Jane. Jane looks at herself in the mirror and sees a veiled/robed figure, enclosed in foreign ga rments and framed by the mirror; she doesnÂ’t recognize this figure as herself (289). Rochester calls Jane the Â“desire of his eyesÂ” upon seeing her dressed th is way Â– which fu rther points up RochesterÂ’s interest in exteriors, with appearances and looking. Jane gazes on neither Â“sky nor earthÂ”; this is perhaps the first time she fails to note the weather, she fails to be in touch with nature; Â“my heart was with my eyes; and both seemed migrated into Mr. RochesterÂ’s frameÂ” (290). She is utterly enclosed by RochesterÂ’s presence and desires. At the church a place of worship, she finally notices something of the outdoors: the rook wheeling around the steeple and the graves and headstones. St. John Â“reads it in her eyeÂ” that Jane will not be happy long at Morton (358). She will be in want, he feels, of human affection and company, that she is well devoted to such connections. He also speaks of his own restlessness and ambition Â– indeed, St. John starts at the very word, and proclaims that he is indeed ambitious. The idea and dual meanings of th e term Â“stageÂ” is key to this study: a stage of life or growth, and a stage space for performance. These two meanings are merged in the texts, and the stage space
37 embodies temenos, the safe play sp ace which Jane, Caroline, Shirley, and Lucy may respectively try out ro les (gender roles, cultural roles, archetypal roles) to develop their identities. While the environment created by the rugged landscape around the Haworth parsonage could be isolating in a negative way, it also functions as a positive space, a te menos, which provides a safe space for personal growth through the agency of writing. It is the same type of safe space that CharlotteÂ’s char acter Lucy seeks and carves out for herself in the Â“lÂ’allee defendueÂ” in Villette. Much of LucyÂ’s journey, like CharlotteÂ’s, is involved with findin g a safe physical and psychic space for herself, to write, dream, and ex perience life on her own terms. The Bretton home will always be a safe space of refuge and incubation to Lucy, now and later in the novel, wh en she is returned to the Bretton home after she breaks down in Villette. Caroline is enclosed in her be droom, alone with her thoughts (99-100). Note the mermaid mirror im age, and CarolineÂ’s construction of self (Lacan? Mirror Stage? Otherness?). Robert B Heilman in his article Â“Charlotte Bront, Reason and the MoonÂ” notes the moon presides over the visi on of the mermaid in Shirley : The moon visions always partake of the revelatory Â– of human possibility or human actuality, or of the quality of mind of those who have the visions. When Ch arlotte wants to make a quick
38 plunge into the rare essence of a character, she instinctively demands the presence of the lunar muse. (40-41) The narrator comments on the valu e of the moon for eighteenyear-old Caroline, as a benevolent light shining upon the Elf-land of this time and space: Â“What a moon we gaze on before that time! How the trembling of our hearts at he r aspect bears witness to its unutterable beauty!Â” (97). Caroline is at a turning point, on the cusp of womanhood, and the mermaid image sp eaks to the transformation she is about to undergo as she leaves the fantastic Elf-land for the everperilous human world ahead. The m oon figures prominently in Jane Eyre as well, as evidenced in the passage where Helen Burns tells Jane that she depends too much upon huma n love; that GodÂ’s love in which we shall all reap the glory of at deat h, is what is most important. With regard to the meanin g of the moon in Jane Eyre Robert Heilman notes: In Jane Eyre the moon is an aesthetic staple, at times a scenic element inherently charming to the writer, at times almost a character; at its most interesting it reveals an author groping for a cosmic symbolization of reality, or toward a reality beyond the confines of everyday actuality, toward an interplay or private consciousness and mysterious forces in the universeÂ…In JaneÂ’s life every crucial event has its specia l lunar displayÂ…Always there is the suggestion of a transcendenta l force mildly at work. (41-42)
39 Notice that after HelenÂ’s speech, as Helen comforts Jane, the full moon shines upon her and Helen and Miss Temple comes for Jane, whereupon Jane and Helen feast with Miss Temple in her room (72-75). When Shirley makes her first appearance, she enters Fieldhead through a glass door that leads to the enclosure of the garden (196). This is interesting, as we will find out later in this chapter (Â“FieldheadÂ”) that Shirley is both male and fema le in character and sex. As she notes, Â“I am an esquire: Shirley Keel dar, Esquire, ought to be my style and title. They gave me a manÂ’s name; I hold a manÂ’s position; it is enough to inspire me with a touc h of manhoodÂ…Â” (200). Gardens are amorphous spaces, embodying both ma le and female characteristics, and Shirley is also Â“naturalÂ” in many ways. Shirley is also involved in generative work, in her business capacities, and a garden is a space for growing things, a place where things are nurtured, a space in which she shall nurture Caroline. Each house in Jane Eyre is a stage and each enclosure has its own meaning to the larger narrative W.A. Craik, in her essay Â“The Shape of the Novel,Â” comments on th e value of places, particularly houses, in Jane Eyre Of Gateshead, she comments that it is a place of Â“torment,Â” Â“cold and dreadÂ” (7). She states that Lowood is Â“hard and repulsiveÂ” (8). Thornfield has three aspects: the landscape (defined as good); upper stories (defined as an evil space); and drawing rooms
40 (wherein resides Â“heartless and tast eless grand societyÂ”) (9). Craik defines Moor House as Â“anxiety-induc ingÂ” but containing Â“Security and family unityÂ” (10). Ferndean is Â“so unhealthy and gloomy a placeÂ” that it was unfit for Bertha to reside there (11). Lowood may indeed be hard and repulsive, but as Jane notes, she wouldnÂ’t trade Lowood for Gateshead (77). Miss Temple marries and leaves Lowood, and Jane undergo es a Â“transforming processÂ” that same day; with Miss TempleÂ’s presence removed, Jane feels her old emotions stir. She considers the cour age it takes to go out into the world and experience life. If not lib erty, which she desperately wishes for, then Jane asks for at leas t a Â“new servitudeÂ” Â– Â“liberty,Â” Â“excitement,Â” Â“enjoyment,Â” all are not more than sounds for Jane at this time in her development (87-89). Jane as narrator is conscious of the audienceÂ’s presence, of enclosing the audience in their work; she will Â“draw up the curtainÂ” as on a scene in a play and reveal the acti on to us (96). A few pages later, Jane, in her room at Th ornfield, plays on the word Â“thorn,Â” reflecting upon the transitory peri od and space she has entered (100-101). The first meeting of Jane and Ro chester is a momentous affair for both of them, in terms of sh aping their individual and joint narratives. This is an important st age of her life, as this momentous meeting grounds her as one of th e Â“fair folkÂ” to Rochester, and
41 establishes him as one of same to Jane. Jane is more comfortable in this stage of landscapes than in th e drawing rooms of Thornfield. Both daylight and moonlight illuminate Roch ester for JaneÂ’s first full view of him Â– she notes that if he were handsome and young, and if he had replied to her ministrations with good humor and gaiety, she would have been put off of him (116). As he is, though, she is comfortable standing her ground. She is not afraid of walking in moonlight. Jane says the incident was an active thing in an unbearably passive life. RochesterÂ’s face is not like the others in her memory gallery Â– it is masculine Â– so, his is evidently the first masculine face she admits to memory (118-119). Jane says returning to Thornfield is to return to stagnation. She does no t want to return to this life and cannot appreciate the Â“privileges of se curity and easeÂ” Â– to do so is to Â“slip again over my faculties the vi ewless fetters of a uniform and too still existence,Â” like, she says, a man who has sat too long in an easy chair (118-119). The charades games of chapter eighteen are key stages in Jane Eyre as these games illuminate the su btext of the current narrative. The staging of the charades involv es costuming, and the traditional theatrical element of the raising of the curtain on the action. Richard Chase notes in his article Â“The Bronts: A Centennial Observance,Â” Â“The aesthetic procedure of Charlotte Bront makes her novel a series
42 of set pieces, tableaux, or great scenes which periodically resolve themselves out of the interspersed areas of formless ac tivity (like the charades staged by Roch ester and Blanche Ingram for his aristocratic guests)Â” (28). In Charade number on e, Rochester and Ingram star as bride and groom (184). In Charad e two, Rochester and Blanche Ingram don Oriental dress; he look s like an emir, she like an Â“Israelite princessÂ” of the Â“patriarchal daysÂ” Â– Â“it was Eliezer and Rebecca: only the camels were wantingÂ” (185). John R. Reed in his text Victorian Conventions offers this gender comment on Blanche Ingram in Jane Eyre in IngramÂ’s comparison of herself to Old Testament princesses: Â“Although they usually exhibit astounding beauty, it is really abrupt masculinity that characterizes thes e conventional typesÂ” (45). In Charade three, Bridewell, Roches ter appears as a prisoner (with fettered wrists) (186). Blanche likes hi m best in this guise Â– she feels the rogueÂ’s look becomes him, that he would have made a gallant gentleman-highwayman. She would like a Â“hero of the roadÂ” Â– the next best thing to an Italian bandit Â– that former only surpassed by a Levantine pirate. In this desire for a Byronic-type here, Blanche is like the heroines of Charlotte and BranwellÂ’ s Angria stories. It is interesting to note that the time of year is spri ng, as this is the traditional time of courtship, the growth of relationship s, the rising of the sap, and the prelude to the mating season (mating starts on Beltane).
43 Cultural Spaces: Constructions of Class and Gender Roles There are two key elements in the Bront an domestic space: enclosure and performance. The pattern of enclosure discussed in this study was not unknown to Charlotte Bront, even though she lived well before Jungian analysts named the psychic phenomenon. Enclosed in the parsonage as a young girl, Charlotte Bront would explore the depths of her imagination, along with that of her siblings, writing the Glass Town stories and eventually the Angrian story cycle. Bront family life engendered performance. They acted out the stories at home, walked around the table, re ading the texts aloud. The Bront s were keenly aware that life, and fiction, and gender, were all performative. As has been well noted by biographers and critics alike (such as Juliet Barker and Helene Moglen, among many others), the imaginative Â“world belowÂ” became a wellspring of inspiration, conscious and unconscious, for future memorable characters. In this enclosure, CharlotteÂ’s life had some connection to the anchorites of the Middle Ages, in that her seclusion gave her the space, both physical and psychic, to write as she plea sed and develop her ideas. Such privacy also gave her the freedom to develop her identity through the writing process and offered a ce rtain protection from outside intrusions. As late as 1850, Char lotte mentions this Â“anchorite seclusionÂ” in a letter to William Smith Williams, the reader for the
44 publishing firm of Smith, Elder and Co.: Â“I believe both Â‘ Shirley Â’ and Â‘ Jane Eyre Â’ are being a good deal read in the North just now Â– but I hear only fitful rumors from time to time Â– I ask nothing Â– and my life of anchorite seclusion shuts out a ll bearers of tidingsÂ” (qtd. in Blackburn 67). Helene Moglen contextualizes th e nature of feminine conflicts in Shirley : By the time Bront sat down to write Shirley she had so matured psychologically, artistically, an d intellectually that she could place the psychosexual problems which had long concerned her within a larger social context ... The time had come for her to confront more directly the nature of female oppression and to consider as analytically as possibl e the way in which this form of oppression was related to others : to find the connections which could be drawn between women and the poor and socially dispossessed, between women and unemployed laborers, between women and children. (158) Caroline says Robert treats the living workers in his factory as machines, without regard to their humanity (72). It may also be said that men treat woman as objects wi thout regard to their humanity. Some men, like CarolineÂ’s Uncle, Mr Helstone, hold that women are lesser creatures, unable to participate fully in life the way a man can,
45 and moreover are capricious crea tures whose whims can never be understood (and so no man should try). Lucy, Caroline, Shirley, and Jane find themselves to be encl osed culturally, such as in the prevailing images of the angel in the house or the spinster, and socially in terms of their social status and roles, such as the governess, heiress, and teacher. In the description of Mary Cave, Mr. HelstoneÂ’s wife, there is the dual image of the Madonna and Angel (52-53). She fades away in death, quietly, unloved, and unnoticed by her husband. Commenting on Mary Cave, Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, in their seminal text Madwoman in the Attic state: Even the noblest patriarchs ar e obsessed with delusive and contradictory images of wome n, Bront implies, images pernicious enough to cause Mary CaveÂ’s death. She is therefore an emblem, a warning that the fate of women inhabiting a malecontrolled society involves suic idal self-renunciation. (376) In a succinct comment, Helene Moglen notes Â“Mary Cave had found physical death preferable to the sp iritual death of her marriageÂ” (165). The true nature of YorkeÂ’s and Hels toneÂ’s antipathy to each other is rooted in their rivalry for Mary, a ba ttle that Helstone won. It is worth noting that Yorke goes on to marry a woman that is the opposite of Mary Cave. The description of Caroline Helstone later in the same
46 chapter reflects some of the same qualities of Mary Cave (66-67). She is quiet, in the way that Mary Cave was, perhaps, but with something different Â– a spark of independence and intelligence that cannot be completely subdued. Several chapters later, the narrato r provides a description of the second female protagonist of the novel who bears its name, Shirley : she is given a masculine name, per he r parentsÂ’ desire for a son, but looks distinctly feminine, with dark hair, good height and well-defined features.ix Shirley says she is Â“a woma n, and something moreÂ” Â– she has a Â“touch of manhoodÂ” and feels that she can do a manÂ’s job.x She cleverly notes that women shou ldnÂ’t have political or religious opinions, yet she banters with Helstone on just those subjects. Speaking of the creation of Shirley as a character, Moglen notes that ShirleyÂ’s Â“external circumstances and personal qualities suggest alternative possibilities for a womanÂ’ s acquisition and use of power and thus for her realization of selfÂ…But she is, after all, a womanÂ—and this qualifies the restÂ” (175). Shirley gi ves Helstone a nosegay, and he refers to her by a masculine pronoun to her governess, Mrs. Pryor; he calls her a captain, a squire and uses the title Mister, and as the chapter closes we see her hand in waving farewell referred to as Â“white as a lily and fine as a fairyÂ’sÂ” (202-203).
47 Jean Wyatt, in her article Â“A Patriarch of OneÂ’s Own: Jane Eyre and Romantic LoveÂ” observes: JaneÂ’s angry response to all attempts to define her as a subordinate is one of defiant au tonomy: Â‘I am not an angelÂ…I will be myself.Â’ JaneÂ’s repeated refusals to be contained within gender categories can inspire her reader with a similar determination to make the fantasy of autonomy a reality in her own life. (206) Jane is not an Â“Angel in the HouseÂ”; rather, she is the Fairy in the House. The differences between these concepts are many: religious affiliations, agency, temporal (dis)placement, power. Lucy is no Angel either; she is a shade, an inoffe nsive shadow, a ghost. Caroline is sometimes constructed as a spectral figure in Shirley The implications of these constructions of identity are important. As a ghostly entity, Lucy is freed from the body and the restrictions that are placed upon the female body. The borders are di ssolved, and her body, like JaneÂ’s fairy body, becomes a liminal space, a liminal text. The second paragraph of Villette focuses on the order inherent in the Bretton home; the orderliness and peace of the home, Â“where Sundays and holidays seemed always to abide,Â” suit her well (3). It is like a fairy godmotherÂ’s home in a fa iry tale, the ultimate safe space for a young personÂ’s imaginative pursuits.
48 In keeping with the notion of her body as her casket, for Madame BeckÂ’s fte, Lucy chooses to wear a gown of purple grey Â– the color of the dun-mist on the moors. The gown, in terms of its color and associations, is a gown of shadow. Karen Lawrence, in her article Â“The Cypher: Disclosure and Reticence in Villette ,Â” makes some interesting observations about LucyÂ’s specific choices in attire: In assigning herself a figure li ke the cipher, Lucy deliberately obscures her intelligibility, her body, and her signatureÂ…But in articulating herself with a figure that covers, Lucy causes us to wonder if invisibility is not also a strategy like the Â‘cloak of hodden grey,Â’ specifically a strate gy to avoid being Â‘textualizedÂ’ or read. (307) Indeed, Lucy says of her grey dress, Â“In this same gown of shadow, I felt at home and at ease; an adva ntage I should not have enjoyed in anything more brilliant or strikingÂ” (122). It is interesting that Lucy chances to meet Madame Beck, the ultimate invisible snoop, before the fte, and Madame approves of LucyÂ’s dress as Â“decent.Â” It is important to note the enclosure of her dress, for it is an indicator that she deals with her shadow self extern ally then internally, at this point in her narrative. Some days before Madame BeckÂ’s fte (as Lucy notes, it is summertime), Lucy contemplates the city of Villette from
49 her balcony, and says of herself that she is Â“living my own life in my own still shadow worldÂ” (109). Caroline, enclosed in her room, sees her image outlined on the wall Â– a pale phantom (172-173). In her mind, she sees the freedom and joy she and Robert experienced in nature, in the enclosure of the woods, and she contrasts it with her present state of affairs. In her dreams, Caroline meets the memory of Robert and accompanies him like a spirit. In the moonlight, her spirit is fresh and lively, but in the Â“realityÂ” of the daylight she turns wretched and dejected (258259). Caroline lives in her imaginat ion and memory as a specter. Mrs. Pryor explains to Caroline that she gave her over to Mr. Helstone to raise, because of the pi cture of the girl shown to her: a fine, fair, fairy-like being that Mr s. Pryor was certain contained a malicious heart, as the beauty of her husband had contained within (437). There is an idea of the change ling here in the fairy reference. Shirley calls Louis a Â“great dark goblinÂ” who meets her Â“in the moonlightÂ” and gives such reason for he r apparent fear of him. Of her, he says she is Â“spirit-like,Â” Â“a thing made of an element,Â” Â“the child of a breeze and a flame,Â” Â“the daughter of ray and rain-dropÂ” (630). Perhaps this is her fey nature whic h he describes in these elemental terms and alchemical references.
50 If we consider Jane as part of the fairy folk, two concepts become important. Firstly, the idea of her story as a fairy tale takes on additional meaning Â– on one hand, it is structured like a classic fairy tale, folklore, and on the other is a real Â“fairyÂ’s tale,Â” narrated by the changeling child grown into an ad ult woman, married to man who is like a Â“brownie.Â” Rochester notes that Jane has the look of Â“another worldÂ” Â– he says upon seeing her the night before he thought of fairy tales and considered that she had bewitched his horse Â– was she waiting for Â“her peopleÂ” upon the st ile, he asks? The Â“men in greenÂ”? Did he break through one of her Â“rin gs,Â” a fairy ring? Jane says that the fairy folk have all left England for a hundred years past (125). Helen Burns teaches Jane about the spiritual world Â– Helen is ethereal herself and doesnÂ’t seem to be of this world. No one could be as Â“goodÂ” as Helen Burns. As Barbara Walker notes in her text, The WomanÂ’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects Â“Â‘ElfÂ’ used to be another name for an ancestral ghost, especially a pagan spirit from pre-Christian timesÂ” (245). Â“ManÂ…can be seduced by an el vish woman; but then he became elwetritsch, elvish, eldritch. This happened toÂ…many medieval heroesÂ” (245). Also, J. R. Clark Hall, in A Concise Anglo-Saxon Dictionary states that Ylfe (spelling for elf) Â– lf (another way to spell it) is a gendered male noun that means Â“e lf,Â” Â“sprite,Â” Â“fairy,Â” Â“goblinÂ” and
51 Â“incubusÂ” (8). According to HallÂ’ s etymology, a nightmare is an Â“lfael,Â” a dream of fairies. Roch ester and his wife are estranged Â– l-fremed Â– elf-framed, which mean strange, foreign, estranged and free and separated-from (if you add the Â“ungÂ” ending to it to have alienation). Lucy and Bertha have something in common on this point: both are strangers in another country. Jane, too, fits this paradigm of a stranger in a strange land thro ugh her liminal state as fairy and governess. Further, it is interestin g that the term for Â“elfÂ” is a male gendered noun as it is applied here to females, all of whom assume male gendered traits in the novels. Jane sees Rochester in the garden writing. She says, Â“He is not a ghostÂ” yet her Â“nerves are unstrun gÂ” (246-247). The meaning of the word Â“ghostÂ” is of particular interest as Jane is applying such a term to Rochester instead of the other way around. Upon approaching him, she says she has a veil, and that it is down Â– she shall endeavor to hide her feelings from him. He says of her that she steals into the house at twilight like a Â“dreamÂ” or a Â“shade .Â” Jane proclaims that she has come from the attending her Aunt, who is dead. Roch ester says of Jane: She comes from the other world Â– from the abode of people who are dead; and tells me so when she meets me alone here in the gloaming! If I dared IÂ’d touch you to see if you are substance or
52 shadow, you elf! Â– but IÂ’d as soon offer to take hold of a blue ignis fatuus light in a marsh. (249) It is interesting, at this junc ture, to note the meaning of the term Â“ignis fatuusÂ” Â– it means Â“a w illÂ’o the wisp, or sprite.Â” He goes on, accusing Jane of having second sight and speaking of the carriage for the new Mrs. Rochester Â– Â“Tell me now, fairy as you are, Â– canÂ’t you give me a charm, or a philter, or something of that sort, to make me a handsome man?Â” Jane says to him, Â“It would be past the power of magic, sir.Â” It is Midsummer Ev e, the night of the faeries and of love, consummated and sacred marri age, and the night of Jane and RochesterÂ’s talk in the garden that ends in his proposal (one recalls the elf in the Hawthorne tree ea rlier, and JaneÂ’s painting at Gateshead) (249). Rochester continually refers to Jane as a fairy and asks Jane more than once whether she is ind eed a human being. Jane refers to him as a brownie, with his shaggy black mane. He calls her a Â“mocking changeling-fairy-born and humanbred!Â” (440-441). Rochester calls Jane his Â“skylarkÂ” and says to Jane that he had heard Â“one of your kindÂ” singing in the wood (442). Gender roles are performed, and the performance is in the text, and also in the construction of the text. Gender roles emerge early in Villette as Polly, working at domestic tasks when she is six years old
53 is described by Lucy as Â“silent, d iligent, absorbed, and womanlyÂ” (13). A womanÂ’s place is indeed in the ho me, toiling away at domestic tasks, while intellectual labor is left to the Mr. Homes (scientist) and Graham Brettons (schoolboy following in the footsteps of his deceased father, a physician) of this fictional world, reflective of the real world of Charlotte BrontÂ’s Victorian England. Lucy reconfigures her cultural space, her identity as constructed by her gender, when something or someone goads her into action. She always needs an impetus to get her started on rewriting her narrative. Speaking of her willingn ess to stay on with Mi ss Marchmont as long as she might live, Lucy notes Â“it seemed that I must be stimulated into action, I must be goaded, driven, stung, forced to energyÂ” (34). Speaking specifically of the Â“goa dingÂ” from Madame Beck, Helene Moglen notes, Â“Regarding the young woman as one of those Â‘Anglaises,Â’ who will dare anything, Madame Beck continually challenges Lucy to assume role s which express her capacity for leadership, which evoke her Protes tant Â‘individualism,Â’ her fierce integrity, her prideÂ” (206). LucyÂ’s impulses come from vari ous forms of prodding, such as her nearly destitute situation after Miss Marchmont dies, Madame BeckÂ’s forcing her to become a teache r, Paul forcing her to act in the school play, her spiritual/mental crisis in the confessional, the
54 drugging that leads her into the st reets of Villette, and her passion for first Graham Bretton/Dr. John, and then for Monsieur Paul. In the world of Villette, the city, Lucy engenders a different type of the female gender. To both French and English people in the city of Villette, she is no angel in the house. Her independent, solitary temperament is poorly suited to th e demands of such a limited gender construction. In many ways, then LucyÂ’s gender is much more traditionally male than the othe r women Â– even to her taste in clothing, which is somber and simple. She is not afraid of hard, honest work, including work with her hands, and needs no man to keep her financially. A lady of the nineteenth century does not work with her hands. Such an activity is not part of the ladyÂ’s gender construction. However, Lucy does active, generati ve work with her hands, as Miss MarchmontÂ’s companion (3-34), as a governess to Madame BeckÂ’s children (65-72), and taking care of the cretin during the chapter Â“The Long Vacation,Â” a job that was orig inally to be done by a servant (146). Such generative work may be re ad as a signifier of masculinity. LucyÂ’s gender construction is further problematized after her arrival in Villette. She reflects on ho w people have sized her up on her journey thus far, in terms of how she is defined by her gender, class and dress. Falling into a philosop hizing mood, another inherently masculine act, she notes that servants and stewardesses Â“in a
55 momentÂ’s calculation, estimated me at the same fractional valueÂ” (53). Lucy is conscious of their cons truction of her, and she multiplies their fractional value of her when sh e tips them well for their services. She will not disguise from herself what such a recurrent situation indicated (i.e., her impoverished stat e), but later she comes to, if not embrace, at least reconcile herself to her status. Lucy is a stranger in a strange land, subject to misreadi ng by the natives, such as is Bertha, RochesterÂ’s wife. Lucy, who is assigned the task of governess to Madame BeckÂ’s children, soon finds herself facing a new situation. Madame Beck assumes the position of the goading fo rce that impels Lucy to act when she insists upon her taking the pl ace of the missing English teacher (71). Lucy is struck by Madame Be ckÂ’s power in this episode, which Lucy defines as a manÂ’s power. Lucy sees in Madame BeckÂ’s countenance that she wears Â“not a womanÂ’s aspect but a manÂ’sÂ” (71). Lucy notes that such power is not her kind of power, and she feels acutely the cowardliness of her instinct to give herself over to inertia. Brenda R. Silver in her articl e Â“The Reflecting Reader in Villette Â” comments on the importance of this scene for womenÂ’s narratives in her following commentary: She justifies to the reader her ma jor decision to go forward into the classroom (rather than back ward into the nursery) as a
56 reaction to what she describes as Madame BeckÂ’s masculine challenge to her gifts. A closer look, however, reveals that through this Â‘justificationÂ’ she tr ansforms what appears to be an arbitrary personal choice into an assertion of female selfhood broad enough to include intellec tual ambition and achievement. She creates, that is, a plausible social and narrative context for her own self-development that in turn opens the way for other women to follow her. (293) The power that Madame Beck exerts here is akin to what Starhawk in her text Dreaming the Dark calls Â“power-over,Â” which is an inherently patriarchal/masculine type of power.xi Kate Millet comments on Madame Beck as patriarchal collabora tor: Â“Madame Beck is a perpetual policewoman, a virtual forewoman of patriarchal society. No system of subjection could operate for two se conds without its collaborators, and Beck is a splendid exam ple of the breedÂ” (259). Lucy establishes this type of patriarchal force over Madame Beck, in her only real confrontation with the directress, wh ich involves Monsieur Paul (420). Through the process of writing her life narrative, generated by her enclosure experiences, Lucy will eventually develop a different type of power, a power-from-within, which is a type of power that Starhawk defines as Â“the power of the low, the dark, the earth; the
57 power that arises from our blood, ou r lives, and our passionate desire for each otherÂ’s living fleshÂ” (4). In the attic enclosure, Lucy lear ns/creates the part of the fop and performs for an audience of rats and roaches, fellow shadow dwellers. In this space, she expe riences a transformation, the key aspect of which comes to light wh en she prepares to go onstage. Referring to her theatrical act, Bren da Silver says, Â“The self-respect implicit in her refusal to dress comp letely as a man for the role Â– to deny her femaleness Â– demands that her search for identity and fulfillment occurs on a different st ageÂ” (295). Silver goes on to elaborate on the nexus of gender and narrative in the play scene: Although Lucy rejects living by proxy (GinervaÂ’s way) and refuses to perform before an au dience of strangers, the play does allow her to test her powers and find her voice, and experience that informs her ongo ing dialogue with her chosen audience, the reader. Â‘Who will lend me a tongue?Â’ she asks near the end of her tale, knowing only too well that she can rely on no one but herselfÂ…The complexity of her relationship with her readers and the changing roles she assigns to them as the narrative progresses reflect in tu rn the difficulty of growing to selfhood amidst the contradict ory needs and desires imposed upon her by the prevailing cultural codes. (295-296)
58 Lucy gives way to her passionate nature in this theatrical episode. Paul has seen her moyens, her resources, and he assures her that she has what it takes.xii Lucy only agrees to play a man so long as she may assume the garb in her own way, wh ich is a mix of menÂ’s and womenÂ’s clothing. She plays the part of the fop as a rival to Dr.John, and in doing so repositions herself in the ge ndered space. Lucy notes, Â“where he was outcast I could please,Â” an d so she plays up toGinevra and makes the rle her own (131). Lucy decides the next day that she may not do such a thing again, and writ es that the lock remains unpicked (131). However, we notice that after her acting routine, she gets into a heated discussion about Ginevra an d de Hamal with Dr. John Â– and with a sharp tongue and wit she turn s Dr. JohnÂ’s rhetoric back on him (139-140). The primary episode wherein Lucy gives herself over to her passion and will is in the pensionnat theatre scene. Lucy gives way to her imagination in the way she recrea tes the rle of the fop. It is significant that the fop character is described as a Â“butterfly, talker and a traitor,Â” as this role is tran sformational for Lucy (125). Enclosed in the rle, in the blended cost ume of a man and woman that she insists upon wearing, Lucy is tr ansformed by the experience. She stages her passion in the play. Af ter the play her passionate nature goes offstage, packed back into he r psychic trunk as a costume, back
59 into the shadows. She returns to be ing a mere looker-on at life. There is a connection in terms of charac ter development between Jane and Lucy on this point; formerly, Jane has been a spectator at Lowood and she now has to become an actor (55). Caroline shows the strength of he r intellect in her analysis of Cowper and Rousseau. In response to ShirleyÂ’s questioning, she notes that the observations are hers alone, not taught her by Robert (228-230). Caroline and Shirley discuss the nature of work for women, and both show a desire for generative work. Earlier in the novel, Caroline wishes that Nature had made her a boy, so sh e could work with Robert in the counting-house, rather than sit at womanly tasks with Hortense in the parlor (77). Caroline had also expre ssed a wish for work while speaking with Robert previously. Shirley notes that such work is said to be too masculine for a woman, in that it makes a woman Â“coarseÂ” (228-230). Shirley sounds like Hedda Gabler, as she asserts that she has pistols and can use them (262). Shirle y speaks of her dual conscience, her divided self: Captain Keeldar, the public lord-of-the-manor, and the private woman, who feels she ha s a Â“base alloy of cowardiceÂ” in her composition (264-265). In the busi ness of the distribution of the funds to the poor, Shirley insists He lstone see her as Captain Keeldar (272). At chapterÂ’s end, Shirley as host is referred to as Captain Keeldar, the male host (274). Later on, Shirley is again a captain, but
60 this time in a militaristic sense, insp ired by the band music to dream of going into battle to defend something beloved (302). Shirley and Hedda, as characters, share a desi re to embody masculine gendered traits and a sense that their wealth and status will open up possibilities for them. However, as Helene Moglen notes, Â“Â‘When it comes to the pointÂ’ ShirleyÂ’s position does not is olate her less than other women in her relationships with men. Her weal th and status donÂ’t make her their equal. They make her more valuab le; a prize worth winning: a trophy worth exhibitingÂ” (177). Indeed, Robert thinks of Shirley as a trophy to be won and coveted, just as Tesman makes an idol of Hedda Gabler.
61 Narrative Space: Identity and the Knstlerroman Caroline, Lucy, Shirley, and Jane construct their life narratives in the time and space of the novels, an d they then rewrite them in their narration years later. As Brenda R. Silver notes: Rather than misleading or lying to us, or to herself, Lucy is deliberately creating not only a new form of fiction for women, but a new audience Â– part critic, part confidante, part sounding board Â– whose willingness to enter her world and interpret her text will provide the recognitio n denied to women who do not follow traditional paths of development. (289) For women, the narrative space must exist before the physical or cultural space, and Lucy as well as Jane directly invite the reader to bear witness to their narratives. The freedom that Lucy, Caroline, Shirley, and Jane experience later in life evolves from their inscribed narratives, their linguistic enclosures. Lucy does not insist on personal significance at first Â– she is defined relationally, by Miss Marchm ont, for example. In small and large ways, Lucy begins to insist on personal significance. Helene Moglen notes: In a new situation, assigned different roles by the teachers and students at Madam BeckÂ’s Pensionna t, Lucy finds that instead of being deprived of an identity she has protected with such
62 difficulty, she can define herself in a number of different ways, playing a variety of roles, re sponding to other peopleÂ’s expectations of her. (205) Lucy shifts her ground later in the novel, where she insists on personal significance, or a statement of Eg o, per Barbara GelpiÂ’s concept in Victorian Women .xiii This relational identity persists later in the novel as well, in such incidents as her di scussion with Monsieur Paul over the execution of the pensionnat theater piece for Madame BeckÂ’s fte, and LucyÂ’s Â“rencontre,Â” her skir mish, with Madame Beck. Lucy continues to construct her life narrative, in the time and space of the novel, and th en rewrites it in her na rration years later. At the time of the novelÂ’s narrative, Lucy notes that she is writing this now with hair described as Â“white under a white cap, like snow beneath snowÂ” (40). Lucy consciously constructs her identity in her ps ychic narratives, as in the ongoing battles between he r Reason and Imagination, as well as the other abstract concepts that do battle in her mind and soul. Lucy says she lives two lives, one of though t and one of reality, and notes that as long as the life of thought is fed on fancy, the life of reality can live on daily bread, work and shelter (70). Sh e constructs herself in the fantasy narratives she imagines and projects LucyÂ’s narrativ e renames her and places her in a narrative context. In this respect, then, Lucy is creating the narrative space that must exist befo re the physical or cultural space.
63 LucyÂ’s freedom is a state of mind that evolves fr om her inscribed narrative, her lingu istic enclosure. It is through the agency of lang uage, LucyÂ’s foreign tongue, by which Madame Beck grants her acce ss to the Pensionnat (60). After telling Madame Beck her tale and asking her for employment, Lucy is introduced to the person who will come to shape her narrative, and her psychic development, in re markable ways Â– Monsieur Paul. Monsieur Paul constantly notes that Lucy must be kept down, because he sees exorbitant fire an d passion in her nature that can become destructive if it is given fr ee reign. However, Lucy does a fine job of keeping herself down on her own. She is always chastising herself for thinking up plans and dr eaming of new narrative twists for her life story. She is always keepin g herself in check with the battles between Reason and Imagination, food dress, and her intellect. It is infrequent that she gives he rself free rein in any way. Caroline gets a stern lesson on wisdom and submitting to the pains of experience when she encount ers Robert at the cottage and he is cold to her. Arnold Shapiro, in Â“Public Themes and Private Lives: Social Criticism in Shirley ,Â” says of CarolineÂ’s condition: Caroline is the victim of a society which gives her nothing to do Â– since she is Â‘respectableÂ’ Â– and has no understanding of her needs. She is the victim of this world where selfish men
64 dominate and Â‘feelingÂ’ is ignore d. She is the victim Â– again because she is respectable Â– of a world where she cannot speak out and express her love freely. In CarolineÂ’s story, therefore, the social and private themes of Shirley again coalesce. (228) The lesson imparted by the narrator is one of cruel stoicism, and it is said that this is the fate of women to endure, as men could give voice to their concerns and demand answers (105-107). Shirley, as Captain Keeldar, offers to take Caroline away to the Scottish Islands, to see seals, se a-birds, and mermaids. Caroline says she has longed to hear the sound of waves (does it call to her as a mermaid?) (244). Shirley narrates a fantasy encounter with a mermaid, in August under the Harv est Moon, off the deck of a ship. She says as women, she and Carolin e can resist the enchantress, and calls the mermaid a Â“monstrous likeness of ourselves!Â” (246). Shirley delivers a tirade on the role of women as wives, and insists that she will NOT set herself the task of Â“improving a husbandÂ” (619). Sandra Gibert and Susan Gubar comment on the status of women in Shirley : Â“The foods and fictions that sustain men are precisely those that have contribu ted to the sickening of womenÂ” (374). The idea of such a relationship the part of the role of the Angel in the House, to serve as a moral ideal for her husband, is abhorrent
65 to Shirley. Indeed, Shirley adds at the end of her outburst, Â“I shall insist on my husband improvin g me, or lest we partÂ” (619). Jane, like Lucy, is engaged in writing her life narrative, constructing it with great care an d precision. Whom she allows to speak, and how she allows them to speak are points to be noticed. Jane is open with the telling of he r tale Â– one does not get the sense that she is holding back many thin gs, or is told so overtly by her narrator, as one is with Lucy Sn oweÂ’s narrative. The title page of Jane Eyre indicates that JaneÂ’s story is an autobiography, and though we have no such note in Villette we do have LucyÂ’s statement that she is writing her tale in retrospect, with hair that is Â“white under a white cap,Â” indicating that this is the st ory of her life, even if it is not identified specifically as an auto biography (40). Jane seems to be a trustworthy narrator, and she deve lops a warm rapport with her reader. Lucy seems to keep her re ader at armÂ’s length. Both women have certain cutting senses of sa rcasm that arises at points, and occasionally edgy senses of humor (L ucy more so on this point, with her catty remarks). Jane almost always seems to be writing from a place of honesty, and of warmth and fairness towards her cast of characters. Lucy narrates her tale with a sense of reluctance and a sense of anger, almost, for days go ne by and hurts and slights long since inflicted and passed over.
66 JaneÂ’s paintings are keys to her narrative, which are almost always surrealistic and not particul arly representative. For Jane, her artworks are part of the way in which she frames her experience, frames her narrative. WJT Mitche ll, in commenting on women and literary space notes: Â“Gilbert and Gu bar (1979: 7) ask the question, Â‘If the pen is a metaphorical penis, wi th what organ can females generate texts?Â’ I suggest that for many women, the answer is a paintbrushÂ” (98). This proves to be an accurate statement on the part of Jane, as she constructs her narrative through her artwork as much as she does through her written narrative. Robert Colby notes, Â“In this respect Villette can be contrasted with Jane Eyre Where LucyÂ’s impulse is to take up the pen, JaneÂ’s is to reach for the crayonÂ” (43). It is interesting to note the substa nce of JaneÂ’s pictures, the images/symbolism: one painting is of a womanÂ’s bust as the evening star embodied, ascending Â– and her ne xt one is of a desolate king. Her pictures recall superstition and myth, and comment on the status of women and men within the frame of society. Jane created these works on a midsummer vacation and traditionally midsummer is associated with the fairy world and their powe rs. Rochester says the paintings have Â“elfishÂ” touches (128-129). Jane connects the experience of reading the picture book, and constructing some kind of narrative ou t of the series of arctic pictures,
67 with the stories that Bessie would sh are with her, adventures of fairy tales, ballads and scenes crib bed from Gothic novels like Pamela.xiv This is significant, as JaneÂ’s tale is a Â“fairy tale,Â” in that is the tale of a fairyÂ’s life (Jane is often described as a fairy, a Â“charmedÂ” girl). If one considers Jane as a living fairy, then her connection to the outside world, the moon and the heavens, and the stunning series of the events of her life make more sense. A fantastic creature should indeed live a fantastic life. Jane is a Wild Woman and her ques t is to develop her wild self. Jane says the Reed children are Â“not fit to associate with her,Â” and she challenges Mrs. Reed next, saying the utterance seems to leave her lips without her thought or consent ( 29-30). It is as though something is speaking through her (which, of course, it is Â– it is her spirit addressing Mrs. Reed, as will happen again later with Rochester). Upon reflection Jane sees the Â“dre arinessÂ” of her Â“hated and hatingÂ” position. Jane tries to comfort hersel f with a book of Arabian tales, and as she notes the winter frost on th e ground outside, she wanders to the gates, wondering, Â“What shall I do?Â” She is at a crossroads of sorts, a threshold, which is a commo n motif in this story (40). Bessie notes that Jane has Â“quite a new way of talkingÂ” Â– but Jane knows enough to remain silent on the point of her talk with Mrs. Reed (42). It
68 is an interesting comment from Bessie, as Jane learns her narrative skills from Bessie. Awful as the overall Lowood experience is, Jane takes to learning and the first drawing she produces is of a cottage (dreaming of her own space, a room of her own) ( 77). She notes that she wouldnÂ’t trade Lowood for Gateshead. Jane sa ys of herself that she likes to Â“analyzeÂ” and Â“question,Â” and at leas t here there is a space for her to learn (80). Jane still longs for liberty Â– her wanderlust is alive, even at Thornfield, as though she has gyps y blood in her (112). We also see JaneÂ’s imagination at work: Â“Best of all, to open my inward ear to a tale that was never ended Â– a ta le my imagination created, and narrated continuouslyÂ” (112). Comme nting on the meaning of the upper regions of Thornfield, Adrienne Rich notes in her article Â“Jane Eyre: The Temptations of a Motherless WomanÂ”: For Jane Eyre, the upper regions are not what Gaston Bachelard calls in the Poetics of Space Â‘the rationality of the roofÂ’ as opposed to the unconscious and ha unted world of the cellar. Or, the roof is where Jane is visited by an expanding vision, but this vision, this illumination, brings her close the madwoman captive behind the doorÂ…Yet JaneÂ’s sens e of herself as a woman Â– as equal to and with the same needs as a man Â– is next-door to
69 insanity in England in the 1840sÂ…Just as her instinct for selfpreservation saves her from earlie r temptations, so it must save her from becoming this woman by curbing her imagination at the limits of what is bearable for a powerless woman in the England of the 1840s. (149) As Jane paces the third floor, her im agination continuously plays out a new narrative, full of vividness. Jane comments on the place of women in society Â– she waxes eloquently about womenÂ’s lot in life and how women are actually the equal of me n Â– and this soliloquy is followed by Bertha/GraceÂ’s slow peal of disembodied, eerie laughter, a reminder of womenÂ’s confinement by society and family. The narrative, the Knstlerroman, is inscribed in language (text on the page), created in art, and written on the body by women for womenÂ’s instruction. The female body is a text within the text of the narrative. These points can be seen in the stories Lucy, Caroline, Shirley, and Jane are engendering. Lucy reclaims the alle dfendue for herself from the mold and fungi, from the overgrowth, and makes this shady and narrow walk her own space (100-101). While here she reflects on the moon and stars, as old friends from her child hood. Lucy also reflects upon her passionate nature, which she recognizes still exists within her, but she purposefully keeps it buried, wo unded, and bleeding. LucyÂ’s body
70 becomes her casket. Helen BurnÂ’s body becomes her own casket, too. Jane notices that Helen, while being punished, looks like she has retreated to an interior space (the recesses that Jane has in her mind, that she thinks of later as a refuge from St. John) (54). Caroline considers the plight of the old maid, the dismal quality of their lives, and with FannyÂ’s urgi ng decides to visit two old maids, Miss Ainley and Miss Mann. She looks at herself in the mirror, and sees signs of herself as an old maid, in her image framed in the mirror (176-177). Miss Ainley is the antithesis of Miss Mann, though both are old maids. Where Mann is self-invol ved and of decent means and not ugly but plain, Ainley is generous of spirit though p oor of purse, and rather ugly in countenance. Caroline attempts to live the life of the old maids in her present state but finds that it suits her not at all. She becomes more wan and worn the more she attempts to imitate the life of the maids and blocks out her emotions (180-184). Jane says to herself: Â“it is ma dness for women to let a secret love kindle within them, which, if unreturned and unknown, must devour the life that feeds it; and, if discovered and responded to, must lead, ignis-fatuus-like, into miry wild s whence there is no extricationÂ” (163). Jane frequently uses her artwork, as well as her narrative, to establish meaning in her space Â– the space of her artwork, and her gendered space in society. WJT Mitchell notes:
71 The ideological function of painting and seeing in Jane Eyre is to provide a mode of liberation for Jane, and ultimately for Rochester, who, like Gloucester Â‘stumbled when he sawÂ’ and achieves true insight only when physically blinded, dependent on Jane for his eyes. Jane is liberat ed not just from the confined space of gender, of course, bu t from the socially ambiguous position of governess and, pe rhaps even more subversively, from the constraints of Christian piety. (100) Jane resolves her emotional attach ment to Rochester by creating a self-portrait and one of Blanche Â– having Â“framed her determinationÂ” she sets to it the next day Â– her portrait, Â“Portrait of a Governess,Â” Â“disconnected, poor and plainÂ” (to be drawn in chalk), and the other, Â“Blanche, an accomplished lady of ra nk,Â” done in paint tints on an ivory miniature: the types of materi als used to inscribe these pictures indicates further the values sh e places on both roles. Jane is engrossed in her drawing at Gateshead. She draws several pictures out of the Â“shiftin g kaleidoscope of imaginationÂ”: Â“A glimpse of sea between two rocks; the rising moon, and a ship crossing its disk; a group of reeds and water-flags, and a naiadÂ’s head, crowned with lotus-flowers, rising out of them; an elf sitting in a hedge-sparrowÂ’s nest, under a wreath of hawthorn-bloomÂ” (235).
72 Upon returning to Thornfield af ter her AuntÂ’s death, and after accepting RochesterÂ’s proposal, Ja ne undergoes a transformation. When Jane looks in the mirror in the morning she sees a different person. She does not resemble her ordinary self Â– she seems like a blooming, radiant version of hersel f (259). Rochester calls Jane his little elf and mustard-seed and says that JaneÂ’s eyes are hazel Â– she notes that they were in actuality green, but for him her eyes appeared Â“newdyedÂ” Â– so that what he is s eeing is not the true Jane but a simulacra Jane (260). David Lodge in his article Â“Fire and Eyre: Charlotte Bronts War of Earthly Elements,Â” speaking of JaneÂ’s relationships with St. John and Roch ester (in terms of first marriage proposals) says Â“In both cases a re lationship with a man is seen as going down into something, bein g swallowed up and consumed by something. In RochesterÂ’s case the something is fire, and in the case of Rivers, waterÂ” (131). Rochester wants to rename Jane, and in effect, to claim her entirely for himself, by renaming her Jane Rochester Â– and she feels a sensation of fear ripple through her at the prospect. She says that she is not me ant for such a destiny and that it feels like a fairy-tale. He wants to en circle Jane with jewels, Â“loading her fairy-like fingers with ringsÂ” (261). She does not want any such trappings (in all senses of the wo rd). Rochester still seeks outward, exterior approval for his actions as he always has; he wishes to
73 remake Jane in a society ladyÂ’s im age and pays no attention to her wish to stay plain and true to he r nature. Of RochesterÂ’s attitude, Moglen says Â“To be transformed by his snobbery Â– placed on a pedestal by his insecurity Â– is to be denied her selfhood and it is for herself that she wishes to be lovedÂ” (123). Rochester wants to take Jane on a Continental tour, for Â“wherever I stamped my hoof, your sylphÂ’s foot shall step also.Â” He wants Jane to reimprint his life story, to reinscribe his history through her presence in these lands. She tells him not to an ticipate anything Â“celestialÂ” from herself Â– she is too Â“earthyÂ” fo r such flights of fancy (262). Clothing creates both narrative and space by covering, and such Â“coversÂ” permeate the novels. JaneÂ’s grey dress is a dress of shadow; Lucy Snowe prefers clothing of somber tones. CarolineÂ’s dress is described as a Â“nunÂ’s robe,Â” with her falling cu rls substituting for a veil (306). Rochester wishes to enrobe Jane in luxurious fabrics and bright colors, and she steadfastly refuses su ch garb, bargaining for black and grey dresses. She thinks that Roch ester sees her as his slave, his harem, and she tells him flatly that she refuses to be pushed into such a role. Indeed, she says that she wo uld be an agent of freedom to any that she found in such th rall under him. Jane call s herself a Â“missionaryÂ” in this guise (270-271). It is interesting to compare this type of
74 missionary with the kind she is asked to become with St. John later. In the first case, she is a liberator; in the second case, she is imprisoned. Rochester himself has made out the cards for JaneÂ’s trunks for delivery for Mrs. Rochester Â– he inscr ibes her name in a certain image on the white paper (which recalls th e white paper metaphor of women, the tableau rasa). Jane cannot make herself affix them to the trunks nor allow them to be affixed: Â“She did not exist; she would not be born till to-morrow, some time after eight oÂ’clock a.m.: and I would wait to be assured she had come into the world alive, before I assigned to her all that propertyÂ” (277). She goes on to note that the spectral Mrs. RochesterÂ’s garments alre ady displaced hers in th e closet, and she calls such garments Â“strange, wraith-lik e apparel.Â” Jane is fighting the inscription, refusing to be remade in such an image. St. John also wishes to remake Jane in his own image, under the auspices of Agape, where she wo uld serve with him as a fellow missionary to India. However, he insists that they must go as man and wife, married; he will not entertain the notion that Jane puts forth of going as brother and sister, or as comrades, fellow curates (404-417). St. John wants her to remand her life to God, as he has remanded his own, but Jane resists him, saying in the first proposal, Â“I scorn the counterfeit sentiment you offerÂ” (411) and in the second proposal, Â“If
75 I were to marry you, you would kill me. You are killing me nowÂ” (415). She also notes that Â“God did not give me my life to throw awayÂ” (416).
76 Psychic Space: Maidens There are, amongst others, two ways to read these three novels, Jane Eyre Shirley and Villette, that sheds light on the texts as part of the Kntslerroman genre and on the stages and modes of growth for women generally. One may read thes e texts as separate but related stories of the female search for identity and the development of gender roles outside of those that ar e sanctioned by society. In this reading, Caroline, Shirley, Jane and Lucy move through three archetypes of female maturation throughout the three novels, three stages of growth: Maiden, Mother, and Crone. These archetypes can be read in multiple ways: as ps ychic stages of maturation, as physically embodied modes of growth, and as mythic roles. The archetypes of the Mother and the Crone will be discussed in chapters two and three, respectively. Adrienne Rich comments on JaneÂ’s initiation into womanhood: Charlotte Bront is writing Â– no t a bildungsroman Â– but the life story of a woman who is incapable of saying I am Heathcliff (as the heroine of EmilyÂ’s novel does) because she feels so unalterably herself. Jane Eyre motherless and economically powerless, undergoes certain trad itional female temptations, and finds that each temptation presents itself along with an alternative Â– the image of a nurturi ng or principled or spirited
77 woman on whom she can model herself, or to whom she can look for support. (143) Jane, Caroline, Shirley, and Lucy are all expected to emulate the examples of femininity that they en counter in their domestic spaces, in society, and in art. Their Maiden jo urneys are also of initiation; they are to be initiated into the myster ies of womanhood. As Maidens, the protagonists are being educated abou t what it means to be female in their culture. This process of initiation, instigat ing a change of perspective, will be part of LucyÂ’s journey to psychi c wholeness; she will have to learn to accept the emotional, passionate pa rt of herself, the part that Paul notes in her countenance the first time her sees her, later in the novel. For now, though, this attitude of coolness serves Lucy well. She tells the reader that she is Â“fixedÂ” with Â“kinsfolkÂ” (4), from whom Mrs. Bretton comes to claim her for an extended stay, and later on she indicates that she has lost her kinsfo lk and must move on to live with Miss Marchmont, the old neighborhood spinster, by way of earning her keep (31-32). So, while the cool, em otionally bland nature of Lucy may serve to protect her from psychic harm early on in her life narrative, she must eventually learn to allow herself to feel emotion.
78 Polly asks her, before she finally goes to sleep, if she, Lucy, is a wise person; Lucy replies that she Â“means to beÂ” (29). In a rather cynical passage in her article on Villette Kate Millet says of Lucy Snowe: Having surveyed the lot, Lucy pr efers to be like none of them. Looking over all the Â‘role models Â’ her world presents, the adoring mother, the efficient prison matr on, the merciless flirt, the babygoddess, Lucy, whose most genuine trial is that she has been born into a world where there are no adequate figures to imitate so that she is forced to grope her way alone, a pioneer without precedents, turns her back on th e bunch of them. Better to go back to something solidly her own Â– deal with mathematics, Paul Emanuel, and the job. (259) This wisdom that Lucy seeks, the knowledge of her self, of who she really is, will come only after she has experienced one enclosure after another, some of her own accord and some by fate, and learns the lessons inherent in each case. Education equals change. Crises and obstacles change a person. The educ ation of women certainly impacts the traditional social and class stru ctures in the nineteenth century. People who are isolated will not evol ve. No Â– they must have conflict. But they must also have enclosure Â– for people must have a space for personal reflection that will engender a transformation of the spirit.
79 Frames, framing, and needlework ar e all aspects of creation Â– of a product, and of a self. Women are expected to work at needlework Â– to frame popular aesthetic ideals, an d bits of scripture or otherwise wise words, in the needleÂ–worked cl oth. According to Hortense Moore, CarolineÂ’s cousin in Shirley, needlework is essential to womanhood (81). For Hortense, this ability in needlework went back many generations. Mr. Helstone tells Caroline that a clever woman knows how to make shirts and gowns and pie-crusts (98). Mill owners like Robert work with frames, too, fram ing a certain type of industrial progress, and perhaps framing some of the social ills left in the wake of that progress. The Luddites in Shirley break the frames, symbolically and materially rejectin g the kind of Â“frameÂ” Robert Moore is creating as a workspace. JaneÂ’s focus on birds is interest ing. The birds may represent the freedom she wishes she had. She will encounter birds many times over in the novel, at various junctures. The birds may also represent the Â“flights of fancyÂ” that Jane is given to. Â“To learn the language of birds was a prominent metaphor for mystic enlightenment. To fly up like a bird, in the state of holy trance was sometimes a prerequisite for initiationÂ” (Walker 396). Jane is under going initiatory rituals/situations throughout the whole of the novel. Â“Celtic fairies were supposed to have bird wingsÂ” (Walker 396). Perh aps all the bird imagery reinforces
80 the idea of Jane as a fairy girl (not e also that Bront was familiar with Celtic lore). Birds are the interprete rs between the planes of existence, between the dead and living Â– they are inherently liminal, on the border between the worlds, both meta phorically and physically, in that flight connects them with the eart h and the heavens. They occupy, in effect, a third space, a space which is exterior to all enclosures and yet is a sort of enclosur e in its liminality. John Reed is what the male children in Anne BrontÂ’s Agnes Grey will grow up to be, and what little Arthur in Tenant of Wildfell Hall would be if his mother, Helen, did not take measures to prevent it. John Reed attempts to punish Jane with a book, not only denying her the knowledge found in books but th en using the agent of knowledge to abuse her (12-13). Jane has been like Eve, tasting the forbidden fruit of knowledge. She, according to the Reeds, shouldnÂ’t be allowed access to knowledge. One must co nsider the power relationship between Jane and the Reeds. John Reed actually makes Jane bleed (reflective of the onset of menses? Initiatory? The initial blood that must be shed and sacrificed for the journey into the underworld?). Note also that John Reed orders he r to stand at the threshold of a door, Â“away from the mirror and the windows.Â” Ostensibly, this is so that when he hurls the book (litera lly Â“throwing the book at herÂ”) he will not break any of the windows or th e mirror. But it is significant in
81 other ways, as Reed serves as the patriarchal voice of authority, who has ordered Jane away from any wi ndows of opportunity, away from any connection to self-image, interior knowledge or the outside world. This initiation serves as JaneÂ’s entr ance to Maidenhood, as it initiates her entrance into the liminal space of the red room. Rochester begs of Jane not to allo w her curiosity to have free reign and tells her that he will accord to he r his confidence only as it is worth having in his opinion. He entreats he r not to wish for too much knowledge of his mysteries Â– not to Â“turn out a downright EveÂ” on his hands Â– he calls her a Â“fire-spiritÂ” and says she railed against fate (262-264). The Ingrams initiate a diatribe on governesses, calling them Â“incubiÂ” and a Â“tribe,Â” indicating they are beneath those of the IngramÂ’s status. Blanche also holds forth on the type of man she most desires (a Â“wild, fierce, bandit heroÂ” Â– like something out of Sir Walter Scott), the gender roles of men an d women (men are to Â“hunt, shoot and fight,Â” and should never challeng e the loveliness of their wives in their own beauty; a womanÂ’s lovelin ess is her Â“legitimate appanage and heritage,Â” and an ugly woman is a blot on the fair face of creation (178-182). Blanche sees herself as a Queen, royalty, and will demand absolute undivided attentions and homage from her husband, and she will Â“suffer no competitor near th e throne.Â” Mrs. Fairfax has been educated in the ways of the world and reminds Jane of her station,
82 questioning RochesterÂ’s motives an d warning Jane to be careful: Â“Gentlemen in his position are not accustomed to marry their governessesÂ” (266-267). Martha Vicinus in Suffer and Be Still comments on the place of the governess in Victorian families: The employment of a gentlewoman as a governess in the middle-class family served to reinforce and perpetuate certain Victorian values. But inherent in the employment of a lady was a contradiction of the very values she was hired to fulfill. The result was a situation of conflict and incongruity for both the governess and the family, a conflict which called forth a variety of responses from governess, family and society. (5) M. Jean Peterson in chapter one of VicinusÂ’ text quotes Elizabeth Sewall ( Principles II, 240) on the problem of the governess: One sensitive observer of the Victorian social scene made the following assessment of a govern essÂ’s situation: Â‘the real discomfort of a governessÂ’s positi on in a private family arises from the fact that it is undefined. She is not a relation, not a guest, not a mistress, not a serva nt Â– but something made up of all. No one knows exactly how to treat her.Â’ (10) Governesses occupy an inherently liminal space in society and individual familes, above the servant s, and both inside and outside of
83 the family structures as hired tutors and child care workers. HelstoneÂ’s attitude toward governesses neatly summarizes the attitude of nineteenth-century society towards womenÂ’s work. He says CarolineÂ’s notion of earning her own keep as a governess is Â“too feminine a fancyÂ” and seems to feel quite put out by her request, which to him means she questions his ability to ensure her living after his passing. He tells her to Â“run away and am use herselfÂ”; she asks, Â“With what? My doll?Â” (189-191). Caroline and Shirley are starting their journeys as Maidens from two different places in life. Shirley begins with wealth and a home of her own, but without the knowledge of how to make the best use of her monies and talents. One may cont rast Caroline and ShirleyÂ’s portraits as they cross the fields to the Whits untide festival Â– Â“a snow-white dove and a gem-tinted bird of paradise joined in social flightÂ” (295). Like Caroline, Shirley, and Lucy, Jane does gain some selfknowledge in the first leg of her jour ney. She writes away to her Uncle in Madeira, thinking that if she has her own fortune to bring to the marriage there will perhaps be more equality in the relationship (272). She also insists upon continuing as governess and keeping her own company at least until evenings. There is a striking change in the chain metaphor between Rochester and Ja ne. He looks to his watch chain and suggests that he shall chain Ja ne to his bosom in the same way,
84 wearing her like a jewel. This is mu ch different than the chain/string that connected their bodies and souls earlier under the chestnut tree. Jane keeps Rochester at armÂ’s length and wards off sentimentality and bathos with cu tting remarks and the Â“needle of repartee.Â” Jane considers that she is doing it right because Mrs. Fairfax is pleased with her. Rochester drop s his sentimental terms for her and calls her a Â“malicious elf,Â” Â“sprit e,Â” and Â“changeling,Â” and show her Â“fierce favoursÂ” rather than gentle kisses and caresses. The older Jane, as narrator, is reflective of this ti me in her life, this pivot-point: My future husband was becoming to me my whole world; and more than the world: almost my hope of heaven. He stood between me and every thought of religion, as an eclipse intervenes between man and the broad sun. I could not, in those days, see God for his creature of whom I had made an idol. (274-276)
85 Chapter Two: Transformation Physical Spaces: Domestic Space, Stage Space, Landscape and the Body Physical space concerns wome n breaking down borders and parameters, crossing thresholds, and entering into limin al spaces, such as the space between the state of the virginal woman and the fallen woman, the sane and insane, the rational and irrational, reason and passion, the masculine and feminine, and class boundaries. In discussing men and women, Shirley brings up the Angel/doll image men have of Â“goodÂ” women and the fiendish image they have of Â“badÂ” women (352-353).xv She says men are Â“under an illusionÂ” about women, and that they Â“do not read them in a true light.Â” Quoting ShirleyÂ’s remarks to Caroline regard ing women (Â“Their good woman is a queer thing, half doll, half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiendÂ”), Moglen notes, Â“It is the classic distinction between the Virgin Mary and the Whore of Babylon: ma n projecting his own bifurcated nature onto women: Rochester divided between the elfin Jane and the vampire BerthaÂ” (164).
86 Caroline and Mrs. Pryor walk the Hollow together, and Mrs. Pryor instructs Caroline about th e nature of a governe ssesÂ’ life, and of the nature of marriage (suggesting to Ca roline both are terrible states to endure) and her political views rega rding social hierarchy. Sounding like Mrs. Marchmont from Villette she offers to take Caroline into a home with her when Shirley marries, and says that she will provide for Caroline after her own death (372-382). Jane describes her feelings an d situation as a winter chill whirling over June, when finally a remembrance of God flutters up from her depths and she makes su pplication in her mind. She feels flooded with a torrent Â– the wa ter imagery engulfs her (298-299). Referring to JaneÂ’s flight from Rochester, Rosemarie Bodenheimer states Â“That Jane should present herself as a Gothic tale-teller on the eve of a fraudulent wedding to Roch esterÂ’s Â‘storyÂ’ suggests that she is in the position of losing control of her own story. Her flight from Rochester might thus be read as a search for a true and equivalent story of her ownÂ” (110). Passion and reason hold forth a discourse in JaneÂ’s mind as she debates what to do Â– conscience is gendered male and passion is gendered female (299-300). This engendering of the motivations of the mind Â– Passion an d Reason Â– is something which all the female protagonists in these novels must integrate.
87 Jane says she feels an Â“inward power,Â” a Â“sense of influence,Â” which supports her as she controls Rochester (304-306). She is clearly able to manipulate him, and he sh ows his knowledge of this action later in the conversation. Jane te lls Rochester to trust in God and Heaven, lead a sinless life, and to hope to meet again with her in Heaven. Rochester says Jane Â“makes him a liarÂ” and Â“sullies his honorÂ” by her language (318-319). JaneÂ’s pa ssion and reason war within her again Â– but her respect for her self, no t what others will think, is a key point in that she keeps her own co unsel. Rochester sees in Jane a Â“wild, free thing,Â” JaneÂ’s spirit, and it is this that he wishes ultimately to possess (320-321). The essence of the physical spaces in this section is their inherent liminality. In addition to the physic al stage space, th ere are physical spaces that represent returns to th e womb and entombme nt, such as the domestic spaces of the pensionnat La Terrase, the moors and Moor House, the Rectory and Fieldhead. In these enclosures, Lucy, Caroline, Jane, and Shirley, broken in body and spirit at these points, will be rebuilt through human agency and the agency of the spiritual realm. Lucy has a turning point in the pensionnat over the summer, an entrance into liminal spaces of the womb and tomb, when as she is left alone with her herself and the crtin. It is important to note that the breakdown itself occurs during the equinox, the time of balance of
88 light and dark, equal day and night. Lucy herself is in need of balance in her life, and she will only find it after she completes her underworld journey through her psyche. She is on an underworld journey into her darkest psychic depths, and her intuitive grasping of this situation is reflected in her desire to be cove red in earth and turf, away from those signifiers of the living world, the sun and moon. The balance of her mind and body, the balance of Re ason, Imagination, the Spirit and the flesh shifts during this passage ; as a result, she will be broken down and rebuilt as a conseq uence of her enclosure. Lucy has a nervous breakdown, an d as a result of such psychic dismemberment she will be reborn into a new persona, one who rediscovers her sexual self. Her sexual se lf came to the fore briefly in the theatre scene, but Lucy henceforth re jected it. She is left alone with her hypochondria, and once the cr tin leaves, she is without any distractions to steer her away from constant self-analysis. She dreams that she is alienated by her belove d dead, by the past, and is filled with despair about the future. Lucy must come to terms with her darkest fears Â– fears of abandonment, loneline ss, and of her shadow self. She wrangles with death in th e dream world, the liminal space of her psychic journey, and in a sense she does die when she falls upon the church steps.
89 Lucy enters the enclosure of th e Catholic Church, and of the confessional, in order to obtain wo rds and witness for her broken body and spirit. As a penitent, she is brok en down completely and rebuilt in spirit, in this case through the au spices of both God and humanity. After her desperate, delusional wand erings through the city, where she has lost her way both literally and metaphorically, she collapses on the church steps and is taken back to the Bretton household in France, La Terrasse, where Lucy experiences rebirth. Speaking of LucyÂ’s awakening in La Terrasse, Janice Car lisle, in her article Â“The Face in the Mirror: Villette and the Conventions of Autobiography,Â” observes: Like other Victorian descriptions of the past, this passage is an image of a withdrawal that is al so a regression. In the womblike Â‘submarine homeÂ’ of memory, one is protected from the storms of adult experience; there the sound of conflict is magically transformed into a lullabyÂ…though LucyÂ’s retreat to La Terrasse, to the cave in the sea, is a ti me of peace and fulfillment, it renders more unbearable the pr esent solitude and struggle which she must endure. (269-270) Lucy is in a liminal state in the Bretton home, a state inscribed upon her flesh body and her psychic body. Having been carried to the Bretton house, Lucy sees herself in a mirror looking spectral and pale, a description that conjures up a gh ostly image for the reader. She is
90 enclosed in a white-curtained bedc hamber, and the ghostly image is furthered with her description of he rself as ashen-faced with skeletal fingers. She is in space that seems to her like a sea-cave, with the colors of her chamber done in soft blues and greens (170). This image of a watery, underground, nurturing spac e is decidedly womb-like, and appropriate to her situation of psychi c and spiritual rebirth. She notes her image in the Â“dark-shining glassÂ” as a mermaidÂ’s image (170). The images of Lucy as taking on the monstrous bodies of the ghost and the mermaid are significant to her gend er construction, as both monstrous bodiesÂ’ resists characterization as ei ther male or female in terms of gender.xvi In Shirley CarolineÂ’s time du ring the middle passages passes in a very different fashion from ShirleyÂ’ s in its content and presentment. Caroline is described in forlorn terms, lonely in her solitude in the Rectory and its grounds, not even finding sola ce in the garden (where checkered light falls upon her sittin g still as a statue) or in the books on the homeÂ’s shelves (all either un suitable or incomprehensible to her, or having been read too often to be of interest any longer) (389). The whole passage evokes a sense of staid mono tony, a study in chiaroscuro. Caroline delivers a long speech on the nature of life as it appears to her (390). Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar note, Â“Â‘Women will starve in silence, Bront seems to imply, until new stories are created that confer upon them the power of naming themselves and controlling
91 their worldÂ” (391). Caroline is starving for life outside of her prescribed realm, and states the malady in ba ld terms: Â“I believe single women should have more to doÂ—better chan ces of interesting and profitable occupation than they possess no wÂ” (390). She seems to understand that life should be fascinating and invigorating, but to her it is as though she is being groomed for death, and she is constantly preoccupied with her own morbidit y. Caroline considers Miss Ainley, who lives as a Nun does, and whos e thoughts are focused on a life lived in peace and joy in another realm (Heaven) while she simply bides her time on the earthly plane. Caroline recognizes that her frame of mind and perspective on life is wrong somehow, but she is at a loss to see how to change her attitude or circumstances. After returning home to the Rector y, Caroline is taken with fever and begins a rapid downward spiral of degenerating health (421-432). She herself underplays the severity of her illness to all who inquire, but the seriousness of it is obvious to anyone who views her in person. Consider this event alongside the illn ess of Jane Eyre at Moor House, and of Lucy during the long vacation at Villette and her recovery with the Brettons. All three of these illne sses, though they have physical manifestations, are sicknesses of th e soul. They are due to heartbreak, and the subsequent unmooring of the soul from the body and mind. In their recoveries, they must be made whole again, meaning that their
92 mind, body and soul must again be one unit. Helene Moglen makes a cynical, if accurate, assessment of CarolineÂ’s story at this point: CarolineÂ’s story moves in a direct ion parallel to ShirleyÂ’s. The apparent differences of their si tuations are submerged by the larger similarities of the female conditionÂ…Mother and daughter live together in passive domest icity waiting for Robert to reappear and shelter them both within the benevolence of his enlightened paternalism. (186-187) In each case, ShirleyÂ’s an d CarolineÂ’s, their crises of identity are wrapped up in their love for thei r lovers, in their desire to become one with the object of their affections Also in all cases, th e recovery of their soul sickness is aided by the discovery/reconn ection with family. In CarolineÂ’s case, she discovers the truth of her lo st mother, namely Mrs. Pryor, and this knowledge and re-connectio n literally saves her life. Jane returns to Gateshead on May 1st, Beltane, as Mrs. Reed is dying (228). Beltane is the festival of fertility and is also a festival of balance, of the delicate balance of death and life. Jane allows Bessie to tend to her now as she did when Jane was a child. Jane comments that she trod the same path, hall to lodge, with Bessie years ago. Jane says, Â“I still felt as a wanderer on the face of the earth; but I experienced firmer trust in myself and my own powers, and less withering dread of
93 oppression. The gaping wound of my wrongs, too, was now quite healed; and the flame of resentment extinguishedÂ” (229-230). Jane is in a liminal place, drea ming restlessly of her time at Gateshead and in the red room, and it is in this dream-setting that she sees a presence of light glide up th e wall, to the roof that dissolves into the heavens, and finally takes the shape of a woman as it parts the sable folds of clouds: Â“first a hand, then a white human form shone in the azure, inclining a glor ious brow earthward,Â” and the moon mother speaks to her waywar d daughter: Â“My daughter, flee temptation!Â”. Jane acknowledges he r being, and says in reply, Â“Mother, I willÂ” (321-322). In speaking of JaneÂ’s dream an d the vision of the Moon that prompts her to leave Rochester, Adrienne Rich states: Her dream is profoundly, imperiously, archetypal. She is in danger, as she was in the Red Room; but her own spiritual consciousness is stronger in womanhood than it was in childhood; she is in touch with the matriarchal aspect of her psyche which now warns and prot ects her against that which threatens her integrityÂ…Individual women have helped Jane Eyre to the point of her severest trial; at that point she is in relation to the Great Mother herself. (152)
94 This vision of the light becoming a moon mother who speaks to her virgin daughter is like a vision of Artemis, the patron goddess of births, fertility, and women. Artemis is a protector of the natural world, so it makes sense that she wo uld appear to offer advice to one of her own, a fairy girl of nature Robert Heilman refers to Robert GravesÂ’ White Goddess as a text informing hi s reading of BrontÂ’s works: Â“Whether by plan or throug h an unconscious or semiconscious sense of forces at work in the wo rld, Charlotte tends to make the Â‘White GoddessÂ’ a presiding deity, if not over her novels as a whole, at least over moments of crisisÂ” (38). The driver leaves Jane off at Whitcross, which is a four-way crossroads, marked with a white-washed stone pillar with four arms pointing in the directions of four towns (325). The crossroads are ruled by Hecate, crone goddess of the crossroads. Jane is at the epicenter now, the place where she herself is at a spiritual, physical, and moral crossroads. Jane, without realizing that she is doing so, offers herself up to HecateÂ’s mercy by laying her body down in the moors near the crossroads. She has left her parcel in the carriage as it leaves her off at the crossroads, which is a kind of sacrifice. She is alone and is destitute, and must turn herself ov er to the universal parent, Mother Nature. Like any good child of natu re would in her scenario, she takes to the moors, and she seeks shelter in a granite crag. Jane constructs
95 night as feminine Â– she seeks GodÂ’s presence in the night sky and sees the might and strength of God in the Milky Way. She had started her prayer in sadness but ends it in th anksgiving, for the Â“Source of LifeÂ” was also the Â“Saviour of Spirits.Â” Ja ne sees herself metaphorically as a bird with shattered pinions, still vain ly seeking to fly home to its mate (326-327). When most types of birds mate, they mate for life Â– their bonds are forever. Jane is related to the ravens and the crows, and the rookery outside of Thornfield. Jane is in the same kind of liminal space, in her shelter in the bosom of th e moors, as she is when she is conceived as a bird. Birds are the in terpreters between the planes of existence, between the dead and liv ing Â– they are inherently liminal, on the border between the worlds, bo th metaphorically and physically, in that flight connects them with the earth and the heavens. They occupy, in effect, a third space, a space which is exterior to all enclosures and yet is a sort of enclosure in its liminality. The moors serve Jane as a womb to retreat to, and possibly a tomb to die in, as Jane decides to go to the moors to die, to have the Â“crows and ravensÂ” pick her bones ov er, birds who are associated with death and change. She seeks an en closure to feel Â“hidden if not secureÂ” but sees a light and moves toward it, which turns out to be Moor House (333-334). She first thinks the light is an Â“ignis fatuus,Â” but soon ascertains that it is not just a marsh light. She passes
96 through holly or yew bushes into th e garden and pushes aside ivy to stare into the domestic scene of Moor House. Karen Lawrence, in speaking of gazing and viewing as creating text, notes: Implicit in my discussion of th e cipher is an argument that although Â‘specularityÂ’ and viewin g are of major importance in this novel, they cannot be divorced from the activities of reading and writing, that is, from textuality. Spying, viewing, observation, and voyeurism are all central activities in this mysterious narrative, but they are integrally connected the reading of significance and the wr iting or tracing of significance in the story and the narrative. Wi thin the story, experience is seen as a marking of the self and is related to what Bront calls Â‘impressibilityÂ’ Â– the ability to be marked or changed by oneÂ’s experience, to be impressed in th e sense of not only recognizing significance but in being altered by it, oneÂ’s self engraved by the writing of experience. (310) JaneÂ’s birds, liminal harbingers, have brought her to a new initiatory stage, a liminal space to be re born, Moor House. Jane will be Â“impressedÂ” at Moor House in many ways Â– through her experiences with Diana and Mary, and through her interactions with St. John.
97 The stage space is an enclosure but is also a liminal space, outside the boundaries of time, spac e, cultural conventions, gender roles, and class constructions. Perf ormance engenders transformation. Following her recuperation at La Terrasse, in the chapter Â“The Cleopatra,Â” Lucy is exposed to visu al art that further stimulates her thinking about gender roles and th e cultural construction of the feminine. Graham leaves Lucy to her own devices in the art gallery, and in perusing the pictures she sees the figure of Cleopatra on a large canvas. The framed picture of Cleopatra frames a particular gender role, that of the exotic, fleshy woman as sexual object. Lucy evaluates this role within the frame of her own experience, and decides that she rejects this image, seeing the Egyp tian Queen as indolent and lazy. Paul, fearing that such unmitigated gazing upon this image of womanhood will evoke the sexuality latent in Lucy, finds her and makes her look upon the set of four images of women, called Â“The Life of a WomanÂ” series, where she s ees a maiden, wife, young mother, and widow. Studying this series of framed, enclosed images of women, all of which represent traditional gend er roles, Lucy finally calls them Â“vapid as ghostsÂ” and says that they are as bad in their way as Cleopatra is in hers (190). None of these images of women and concomitant constructions of gender speaks to Lucy Â– she rejects them all. So this episode, too, fuels her education, by reaffirming those
98 gender constructions that Lucy reject s, which helps to clarify for Lucy what qualities she wishes to engend er. Lucy will not live the life of a traditional woman, as represented by the artwork, nor will she live as a sex symbol Â– she is in the proces s of choosing a gendered identity outside of those avenues (187-194). Through Graham and Mrs. BrettonÂ’ s auspices, Lucy is taken to other cultural venues Â– a concert at the principal music society and to the theatre to see the famous Vashti Lucy is very moved by the great, passionate Vashti. The devil is in her eyes and she is a goddess of suffering, and Vashti achieves beauty in suffering. Karen Lawrence, in commenting on gazing, says: LucyÂ’s plainness allows her to reverse the gaze, to observe the Â‘mysteryÂ’ of the male rather than provide the feminine mystique. Secondly, in the degree of her unobtrusiveness, she becomes a kind of fly-on-the-wall focalizer ga ining access of vi sion by virtue of her insignificanceÂ…Thus instea d of a mark to be deciphered, Lucy presents herself as nontex tualized, resisting the male as viewer who would interpret herÂ…Like the biblical Vashti who refused to display herself for th e male gaze, Lucy Snowe avoids the fate of spectacle and becomes spectator instead. (308) In the enclosure of the theatre, Lucy is changed, in that she sees yet another construction of womanhood, and it is finally one that
99 resonates with her construction of se lf. In the image of Vashti, Lucy is shown a woman who suffers, as Lucy suffers, but is able to transform her suffering into art. The art Vash ti creates is not the art in the picture gallery, framed and enclosed images of women as virgins, whores, or mothers, but something completely different. One is reminded here of the earlier theatr e scene, in which Lucy turned her frustration and suffering into art on the stage in the pensionnat. In the way in which Vashti has bound both Grace and Beauty at her side, though she suffers, she is stro ng, and the imagery recalls the character of Lucifer in Paradise Lost Just as the fires of hell in Paradise Lost transform Lucifer, Lucy too is transformed by her experience of the fiery passion she witnesses in Vashti and the fire in the theatr e. The Â“evil forcesÂ” that write HELL on VashtiÂ’s brow, passion and the Â“abounding bloodÂ” (243), are akin to the forces that fuel LucyÂ’s journey toward independence, in that it is these forces in herself that Lucy must come to understand and incorporate. Robert A. Colby, speaking of Villette notes: In this novel, on the whole, the arts are associated with passivity and escapism, nature with the acti ve mind and reality. For Lucy, therefore, the arts tend to recede in importance as she becomes less a spectator of and more a dire ct participant in life. The shift is bound up with the gradual proc ess of self-discovery that Lucy
100 experiences, involving changes of attitude, revisions of judgment, a general re-orientation of he r emotions and mind. (40) Lucy says of her experience Â“that night was already marked in my book of life, not with white but wi th a deep-red cr ossÂ” (244). Lucy functions here again as author, inscr ibing the experience into her life narrative. The disorder of LucyÂ’s life, psychic and physical, is reordered through the aesthetic of the art she witnesses and experiences. Lucifer becomes a leader in Hell after bein g cast out of Heaven, making a Heaven out of Hell. Vashti in her suffering, HELL inscribed on her body, is still described as Â“strongÂ” an d a Â“queenÂ” (242-243). Like these characters, Lucy will learn from her experiences how to be a leader, a strong and passionate woman, and how to make a heaven out of her personal hell. Lucy will lose Graham to Paulina after this episode, but in a sense she has already let hi m go when she looks upon his countenance during the performance and sees that he is unmoved by the Â“sinister and sovereign VashtiÂ” (244). Shirley and Caroline are enclosed in the darkness, on a hill overlooking the mill, and watch the attack on the mill by the mob. Shirley says she is glad that they are there to watch the action unfold with their own eyes, surrounded by silent nature, and she describes the action as happening on a stage (339-349). In this incident, as in
101 many others, Shirley is both mother and father to Caroline Â– she alternately consoles her and restrains her. Moore and Shirley speak of Caro line (at ShirleyÂ’s instigation). She asks Moore whether he thinks Caroline is peculiar or masculine, and asserts that Caroline is neitherÂ…but that she is clearly capable of defying Moore (362-363). In Shirley as in Charlotte BrontÂ’s other novels, the very land itself tells a narrative, a story inscrib ed in sun and stone, in wind and water (442-443). Notice how abstractions of the human consciousness appear as agents in these dramas, playing their roles among the natural elements. Mother Nature is indeed alive in these works, almost as a narrative underlying th e human narrative, provid ing a frame (enclosure, in a very real, tangible sense and a metaphorical sense) for the human storyline. All things are reflected in the natural world. The natural world herein referred is both local and exotic ; it is Asiatic de serts and biblical lands and the very earth of Yo rkshire: macro and micro. Louis describes Shirley as he s ees her (523-524). By turns, when described in peasant aspect, she so unds like Jane Eyre. As Louis says of her, Â“Much cant have I heard and read about Â‘maiden modesty;Â’ but, properly used, and not hack neyed, the words are good and appropriate wordsÂ…I could call her no thing in my mind save Â‘stainless virginÂ’Â” (522). In her riding habit, she sounds like Hedda Gabler, down
102 to the haughtiness she shows to all men but Louis: Â“She is never wilder than when equipped in her habit and hat; never less manageable than when she and Zo co me in fiery from a race with the wind on the hillsÂ” (524). Jane sees the family and servants framed in the glass, and the Rivers sisters engaged in an act of translation (334-335). The sisters have goddess names, Mary and Diana (both goddesses who succor virgin women). Naturally, the Great Moon Mo ther to whom Ja ne appealed in her flight from Rochester guided her to these literal and figurative sisters. Adrienne Rich notes, Â“Diana and Ma ry bear the names of the pagan and Christian aspects of the Great Godde ss Â– Diana and Artemis, the Virgin huntress, and Mary the Virgin MotherÂ” (152). Jane bemoans the specter of deat h and the Â“banishment from my kind!Â” She says, Â“I can bu t die, and I believe in God. Let me try to wait His will in silence.Â” St. John speaks for the first time in the novel: Â“All men must die, but all are not condemned to meet a lingering and premature doom, such as yours would be if you perished here of wantÂ” (338). St. John considers himself an Â“alien from his native country, Â– not only for life but in deathÂ” (356). He seeks a life of service, poverty and obscurity Â– sure it will bring him closer, as a pioneer, to God. St. John makes alchemical references regarding Jane: Â“in your nature is an alloy as detrimental to repo se as that in mine; though of a
103 different kind.Â” He recognizes a fe llow outsider in Jane, someone who is as alien in her own country as he is. St. John offers Jane a schoolhous e, at Morton, to run for the female children of the local peasan try and farmers, with a two room cottage to live in, a child helper an d thirty pounds a year salary. Jane thinks of the position as Â“humbl e,Â” Â“sheltered,Â” Â“safe asylum,Â” Â“plodding,Â” and Â“independentÂ” (357). RochesterÂ’s final home, Ferndean, is described as Â“deep buried in a wood.Â” It could not be rented as it was too unwholesome and decayed for anyone to make a home in. The Â“heavy frameÂ” of the forest encloses the house and grounds, and it is said to be as quiet and still as Â“church on a weekday.Â” Jane enters the property through a portal, into an Â“enclosed groundÂ” surrounded by woods on which the house stands. Jane sees Rochester emerge from the house, wander a bit, shoo off a servant then re-enter. Rochester is described by Jane in bird imagery Â– he has Â“raven-bla ckÂ” locks, a countenance like a Â“wronged and fettered wild beast or bird,Â” a Â“caged eagle, whose goldringed eye cruelty has extinguishedÂ” (433-434). Jane gains entry to the house an d, after a brief explanation to the servants, she is allowed to carry in his water and candles. He thinks that she is but a ghost at firs t, a teasing presence that will soon
104 vaporize, but she convinces him she is real as she kisses first his eyes then his brow (435-436).
105 Cultural Spaces: Construction s of Class and Gender Roles Cultural spaces are the points of conflicts, where the protagonists confront and break with the cultural and societal borders and parameters. From the engagement of these conflicts (even if there is no real resolution to the conf licts) comes transformation. Richard Chase comments on transformation and cultural heroines: This poor orphan chil d with a mission in a hostile world is like Cinderella certainly. Also, she is li ke Joan of Arc and, as Chesterton observes, the solitary vi rgin of the folktales who goes to the castle of the ogre. I suggest that to the Bronts, this pilgrim virgin is a culture heroine. The culture heroes of mythology are those figures who, like Hercules, Prometheus, or the animal deities of the American Indians, slay the mons ters or overcome natural or human obstacles or bring intelligen ce to men so that civilization can be born out of savagery an d chaos Â– Â“transformers,Â” the anthropologists call these culture heroes. (26-27) Caroline, Jane, Lucy, and Shirle y are both transformers of others, through their words and deeds, and are themselves transformed by the creation of thei r narratives. The conflicts in the text revolve around borders, and th e specific borders that are met and crossed include religion (Lucy and th e Catholic church, the Helstone vs. Moore), morality (JaneÂ’s refusal to become RochesterÂ’s mistress,
106 and her refusal to marry St. John on moral terms), class (Jane and her encounter with Mrs. Fairfax after Rochester proposes, and Jane as a woman without a station, wandering the moors, homeless), and gender (Jane insists that she and Rochester, man and woman, stand equal at GodÂ’s feet). Joe Scott, who works for Robert Moore, espouses the popular, patriarchal Â“biblical viewÂ” of the st ation of women in society, which Shirley Â– and even Caroline Â– refute s. He seems shocked that Shirley reads Â“what a man readsÂ” in the newspapers. Shirley Â– in a Hedda Gabler moment again Â– tells Joe th at she would patrol the mill and farm grounds with his musket (327-330). CarolineÂ’s long commentary focuses on the plight of the single woman in England and compares the circumstances of her sex to that of SolomonÂ’s virtuous woman and Lucretia spinning cloth with her handmaidens. She determines that the biblical vision for women as doing generative work is far more sa tisfying than the current state of affairs for women in England, and wonders that her society does not learn from this excellent lesson. Sh e also notes that society Â“forbids utteranceÂ” to those whose grieva nces cause society uncomfortable pause, effectively silencing the narrative these women have to write (390-393). The Sympson daughters, ShirleyÂ’s cousins, are classic Victorian girls, without any original thoughts of their own. They stand
107 in direct opposition on this point to Shirley, and even to Caroline, for as much as she does exude conventi onality she can and does think for herself (454). Uncle Sympson declares WynneÂ’s proposal to Shirley and she refuses utterly on the grounds that she does not esteem, admire, or love him, that he is a profligate, a dullard, and is vulgar. Sympson is revolted by ShirleyÂ’s behavior, wish ing that the law would force her to comply (472-473). It is notable that only ShirleyÂ’s money keeps her from having to abide by his wishes Louis says ShirleyÂ’s Â“Gold and her Station are two griffins, which guard her on each sideÂ” (615). His statement recalls the 4 key Victoria n MÂ’s Â– Money, Manners, Marriage, and Morals. Shirley and Mr. Sympson have it out over her refusal of Nunnely, and she tells him that she is an atheist to his god (the World, the god of materiality) (557). Shirley says Â“I am anchored on a resolve you cannot shakeÂ” (558). Shirley is a type of an anchoress in Fieldhead, as an acolyte of the Nature goddess (or perhaps a gender-bending Fairie Queene?). Jane notes that St. John is not accustomed to women addressing him such as she is now, and she says, Â“I felt at home in this sort of discourse. I could never rest in comm unication with strong, discreet, and refined minds, whether male or female till I had passed the outworks of conventional reserve, and crossed th e threshold of confidence, and won a
108 place by their very heartÂ’ s hearthstoneÂ” (377). He lene Moglen comments on JaneÂ’s personal growth through relational separation: At every previous point of part ing (from Bessie, Helen, Maria Temple, Rochester) JaneÂ’s Â‘self,Â’ apparently severed and divided, has become stronger and more integrated than before. The separation from St. John marks the ultimate resolution of her spiritual and sexual being, but th e transformation of the Edward Rochester to whom she returns is the crucial condition of the actualization of that being and therefore of the viability of the new romantic myth which the novel has articulated. (140) Jane is reaching beyond the grasp here, in that the vision Jane employs in her far-reaching view in to her compatriotsÂ’ minds, into their mental/emotional landscape. St John must conclude that she is Â“original,Â” which is an interesting term from someone who is steeped in Christianity Â– does he mean sh e is a true incarnation of Eve? Consider the ramifications of Jane as a fairy/woman. As a fairy, she is truly other; she has a kinshi p with humanity, perhaps, but is outside of the human construction of gender so her ques t to reunite with her fairy king, is a different type of gender (and ge ndered) journey.
109 Narrative Space: Identity and the Knstlerroman Jane, Caroline, Shirley, and Lucy are, at this point in their respective journeys, entering into dialogues with their shadow selves. This portion of their experience is the narrative of their struggle to integrate the shadow self. This in tegration of shadow material will transform their personas. This is the point of critical mass where they must wrest control of the pen from the patriarchal forces th at have been vying with them to inscribe their personas, th eir narratives, on their bodies and spirit. There is a fulcrum shift here, from the exte rnal world to the internal world. Lucy lives in the Â“shadow worldÂ” of the Jungian shadow self, a point that is touched on by Bront critic Barbara Hannah.xvii Perhaps this shadow world is part of her jo urney of enclosures. Lucy needs to learn to integrate her shadow self, her passionate self that she keeps down, and that later Paul will insi st must be kept down. LucyÂ’s Â“reasonÂ” is at least in part resp onsible for her containment of her passions. Unlike Jane Eyre, whose journey involves a trajectory originating in passion and moving toward a balance with reason, LucyÂ’s narrative moves from reason to a balance with passion. If we view LucyÂ’s journey as the journey of the self toward integration, we may well read her constant draw to ward the shadows of spaces, and her struggle to integrate the variou s parts of herself, as a shadow
110 struggle towards wholeness. Lucy ca nnot love or be loved by others because she is not yet willing to re -integrate her shadow self, her passionate side. In her identification with Miss Marchmont, she learns not only about suffering and how to bear up under great suffering but also the power of passion, as Miss Marchmont tells Lucy the story of her great passion with her beloved Frank (a fo reshadowing of LucyÂ’s relationship with Paul, and the resultant longing she will experience for him in his absence). Lucy has wanted to strike a deal with fate, to suffer a life of small pains in return for no gr eat agony (34). She doesnÂ’t yet understand that at least in part we make our own suffering in life Â– part of our suffering is due to the perspective we hold on life. Lucy hides her treasured letters from Graham/Dr. John and buries her grief under the NunÂ’s pear tree. She treats it as a grave, and she is a mourner of those things that are lost, or dead, or never to exist. As she contemplates the moon after burying her letters, the Nun comes to Lucy in the garden. This time she confronts the Nun, instead of fleeing. Lucy demands of the ghos t its purpose in tormenting her. She actually advances as if to touch it Â– and it recedes, as if the power of touch is too much for it, the special magic that would defeat it if Lucy could guide the magic to make contact with the Nun.
111 The Nun represents many things to Lucy, and among these notions may be included suffering, chastity, repressed desires. In terms of LucyÂ’s relationship to the Nun, Helene Moglen comments Â“Lucy has also been Â‘buried alive,Â’ and the specter is the dread shape of the imprisoned, undeserving self of the past: the sterile and isolated self of the futureÂ” (219). For Lucy though not for Ginevra, the Nun stands for, in some respects, the ultimate in chastity, as the Nun refuses any connection with the fl esh. The Nun brooks no touching, and if one considers touch is ulti mately a marker for humanity, she can be said to deny humanity itself. She is the ultimate alienating force, and as such she is the prima ry force that Lucy must overcome if she is to defeat her sufferi ng and achieve wholeness. LucyÂ’s hypnagogic journey culmin ates in the final confrontation with the Nun, who has co me to embody the shadow self that Lucy must gain power over in order to achieve wholeness. Lucy goes back to her bed and discovers what she believes to be the Nun lying in her bed. Referring to the relationsh ip of Lucy and the Nun, John Kucich notes: The neo-Gothic nun in Villette is a subtle sign of this relationship between reserve and performance, since the nunÂ’s costume is a theatrical use of Â‘repressionÂ’ as disguise. As a trick used to negotiate trysts, the nun calls atte ntion to LucyÂ’s own reserve as part of a performative psyc hological organization. (80)
112 Lucy tears her out and trods the Nun underfoot, discovering that she is an illusion, rending her physical and psychological presence, destroying the NunÂ’s power over her mind and spirit. In Jungian terms, Lucy is absorbing this part of her shadow self, which she must do in order to achieve psychic balance. Nature confers her blessing upon Lucy as she destroys this final illusi on, as moonshine flickers over her as she completes the action (440-441). In Shirley Martin Yorke has secreted himself in his fatherÂ’s woods and is reading a contraband book of fairy tales Â– in the two tales, he meets what is perhaps the Fairie Queene or a version of Epona, and follows her into fairyl and, and in the second he sees ereides, mists of foamy water in the shape of women. After seeing these two visions from his stories, he sees the very real shape of Caroline Helstone moving through the winter forest, lost in the woods, her face covered with a veil and dr essed in dark silk Â– she sounds like an ethereal nun (567-568). All of the four women protagonis ts undergo underworld journeys toward their psychic goals of unifica tion of the shadow self and ego. Each woman must be broken down completely and then rebuilt on a stronger, wiser frame. Jane breaks down after her failed attempt at marriage with Rochester, a flaw of her judgment and his (which makes sense as they are planning to build a life together, to be bone of bone
113 and flesh of flesh Â– each must then be broken down and rebuilt, and Jane in part becomes the rebuilder of RochesterÂ’s life and persona). Lucy breaks down in after spending the long summer in isolation in the pensionnat, after she tries to find God and herself in the Catholic Church and the sacrament of confes sion. Caroline and Shirley both go through prolonged illness that manife st on the physiological plane but begin on the psychic plane. Jane sees that Rochester is watc hing her, and she makes for the orchard, which is an Â“E den-likeÂ” nook, full of blooming life. She says she feels she can Â“haunt such shade foreverÂ” under the auspices of the Â“now-rising moon.Â” She scents Roches terÂ’s approach by the wafting of his cigar smoke, and she attempts to flee the garden before him by crossing in his shadow, a shadow created by the moonlight, but he senses her there somehow: Â“he had not eyes behind-could his shadow feel?Â” (250-251). It is indeed Roches terÂ’s shadow self that will emerge that night, ready to sweep away Ja neÂ’s innocence and moral standing with his lustful passion to possess her utterly. Jane may not have second sight exactly but she does po ssess a Â“certain knowledge of her own,Â” to borrow a phrase from Lu cy Snowe, another observer of people. Jane knows that there is something wrong, some evil afoot, but she convinces herself that it mu st rest with her, not Rochester.
114 Rochester also notes that sunset is meeting with moonrise Â– it is the ultimately liminal point on the Midsummer Eve. When Jane speaks to Rochester of her spirit speaking to his spirit, as if they had passed through the grave, it brings up the fairy image (otherworldly image) and the meaning of the bird imagery Â– the land of the dead, of liminal spaces. Jane says to Rochester, Â“I am not talking to you now through the medi um of custom, conventionalities, or even of mortal flesh; Â– it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the gr ave, and we stood at GodÂ’s feet, equal, Â– as we are!Â” (255). Rochester tells Jane to stop st ruggling like a bird rending its plumage in desperation; she says that she is no bird, and no net ensnares her, that she is a free hum an being with a free will. It is notable that Jane denies her fairy-se lf, her bird self, in this passage. Rochester calls Jane his Â“second self,Â” Â“equalÂ” and Â“his likeness.Â” He asks her to be his Â“best earthly comp anion.Â” He also says to her, Â“Youyou strange-you almost unearthly thin g!-I love as my own flesh. Youpoor and obscure, and small and plai n as you are-I entreat to accept me as husband.Â” Notice that he calls her almost unearthly (which, of course, she is), and Jane begins to believe him as he becomes less civil (like the fair folk). Jane tells him to turn his face so that she may read it in the moonlight Â– what sh e finds inscribed upon his flesh is
115 strong and strange workings Â– he himself says it shall be no more legible than a crumpled, scratched page (256-257). Rochester claims to know what his Maker will and will not sanction, and he disregards the sancti ons of civilized society. After he decides upon his disavowal of Bertha and claiming of Jane, the two lovers find themselves in deep sh adow, though the moon has not yet set. They come in at midnight, an d the horse-chestnut tree splits down the middle from a lightning strike overnight (258). Lucy needs an escape from her body. Her body is her casket. She lives in the enclosure (an impris oning type of enclosure, in this paradigm) of an imbalanced mind and body. Andrew W. Hook notes in his article Â“Charlotte Bront, the Imagination and Villette Â”: With its action largely internalized, Villette is above all a psychological novel: its drama is the drama of consciousness. . Character and event are important in Villette only in relation to Lucy SnoweÂ’s response, as first-pe rson narrator, to them. Just as much as a novel by James it is th e story of the story that really matters. It is the through the ce ntral recording consciousness of Lucy that the coherence of Villette is achieved. (143) It is important to understand, howeve r, that LucyÂ’s illnesses spring not from any identifiable physical ailment but from her state of mind (hypochondria). When Lucy notes earlie r in the text that the Â“blight is
116 externalÂ” (32), she is only part ly right. The Â“blightÂ” upon her countenance may in part be due to external circumstances, not a physiological disease structure, but he r blight is also due to a mental condition. Perhaps her illness has some thing to do with her Protestant mind-set. As a Protestant, and ind eed as a Christian, she has been taught to deny her flesh, as the fl esh is inherently sinful. To achieve communion with God as a Christian, one must turn from the flesh and all of its pleasures and pains an d focus oneÂ’s mental energy and physical efforts upon oneÂ’s faith, and in preaching the glories of God and the heavenly rewards available to the faithful. LucyÂ’s focus, as is PaulÂ’s, is on that other world, th e one beyond this earthly realm, where people who have suffered lik e themselves will reap whatever rewards God has in store for them, fo r their obedience to his divine will (as shown through LucyÂ’s Providence). Part of how Lucy (and Charlotte Bront, also) escapes the enclosure of the flesh is through th e imaginative world. For Lucy, this is through daydreams and through wr iting, both creative, generative work. Lucy and Charlotte both wr ite their way to freedom, freedom from the enclosure of the flesh thro ugh entering the enclosure of the mind, whose parameters offer a space for expansive mental and spiritual growth. The cell of the mind becomes the corollary of the moors; it is a contemplative sp ace, where one can experience
117 freedom. Carol T. Christ in her article Â“Imaginative Constraint, Feminine Duty, and the Form of Charlotte BrontÂ’s Fiction,Â” comments on SoutheyÂ’s letter to Charlotte: It might be argued that Bron tÂ’s fiction shows the common Victorian ambivalence toward the imagination, and indeed it does. But BrontÂ’s identity as a woman gives that conflict a peculiar significance. As her correspondenc e with Southey shows, Victorian conception of womanÂ’s place did not allow her autonomous imaginative activityÂ…On the one hand, she values imaginative energy as a means of achieving sa tisfying self-expression; on the other hand, her conviction that the world does not permit women such gratification of desire makes her see that energy as vain, selfindulgent, and delusoryÂ…Her no vels therefore contain an ambivalence both toward the imagination and toward the containment she often espouses. (66-67) It is interesting to note that Sout hey, in his reply letter to Charlotte about her writing, sought to deny her this world of writing, this indulgence of imagination, as it would make her an unfit woman. His charge also denied her access to the masculine gendered role of writing, which Charlotte, and her character Lucy, needed in order to survive. Lucy notes late in the novel that such issues as social status and class are Â“third class lodgersÂ” in th e space of her mind (290). This
118 attitude toward social status and class is outside of the societal boundaries for her time, and her tran scendence of such limitations is further evidence of her inner growth. Lucy also constructs a certain na rrative in her involvement with other people Â– she is one person with Ginevra, one with Graham, one with Paul, and so on. She has a repert oire, as for each person she is a different persona. Lucy does not pu t forward just one personality. She is seen in the light of how the obse rver wishes to see her. In chapter twenty-six, Lucy lists some of her different personas: Madame Beck esteemed me learned and blue; Miss Fanshawe, caustic, ironic, and cynical; Mr. Home, a model teacher, the essence of the sedate and discreet; somewhat conventional, perh aps too strict, limited and scrupulous, but still the pink and pattern of governesscorrectness; whilst another person, Professor Paul Emanuel, to wit, never lost an opportunity of intimating his opinion that mine was rather a fiery and rash nature Â– adventurous, indocile, and audacious. (282) Ginevra knows that Lucy is a co mplex personage, and she pleads with Lucy to tell her who she IS, rea lly Â– what kind of personage is she (288-289)? Lucy tells Ginevra that sh e is a rising personage Â– from companion to governess to teacher (which is true). Lucy reflects on
119 what really matters as she considers GinevraÂ’s appeals; Â“it quite sufficed to my mental tranquility th at I was known where it imported that known I should beÂ” (290). Comme nting on Lucy and the narrative structure of the novel, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar state: LucyÂ’s evasions as a narrator indicate how far she (and all women) has come from silent submission and also how far all must yet go in finding a voice. In struggling against the confining forms she inherits, Lucy is truly involved in a mythic undertaking Â– an attempt to crea te an adequate fiction of her own. (418-419) Lucy has come to underst and that her true identi ty need only be known to herself, and to those who she has let into her heart Â– and no one else. This attitude is yet more evidence of her continued personal growth. Graham, though he has spent a gr eat deal of time in LucyÂ’s company, shows that he knows very little of her true personage. He says of Lucy that if she were bo rn male she and he would be great friends. He also calls her an in offensive shadow (295-297). Graham sees her only as a lady Â“who is neither hindrance nor encumbranceÂ” (246). He does not see the depths of LucyÂ’s persona, the passion and the reason, in the way in which Paul has from the first night he met her, and translated her character as it was written upon her flesh. Lawrence speaks to the value of the written narrative for Lucy:
120 As an alternative to the perils of interpretation Lucy faces in person, she turns to writing, to self-articulation, in her own autobiographical textÂ…Her writ ing, then, gives her access to power, a means of signifying he rself in a different way. Her Â‘heretic narrativeÂ’ indeed offers an alternative to the inarticulateness of her speech, marked with privation, and the nun-like silence of her pres ence. In her narrative, she Â‘textualizesÂ’ herself in her own way; she writes the script and therefore controls to a greater de gree the circulation of her own sign. Just as in life Lucy schools the characters around her to interpret a female text different from those they have read before, so in writing she schools her readers to understand her significance. (308-309) It is no wonder, then, that Lucy must write Graham out of her narrative, by burying his letters; he could not ever know her soul. Lucy puts Graham under erasure, further cementing her role as the author of her own life narrative, as only the author/editor can erase. Paul, however, later declares her born und er his own star, and he takes to calling her his little sister (360). As the only person who has seen her true nature, he is bonded to her psychically. Paul shows himself to be aware of LucyÂ’s dual nature, in terms of her proclivities toward masculine gender roles, during the incident
121 dealing with his summons to the Ath ne. Lucy accepts the mission to disrupt PaulÂ’s class with the messa ge, and as part of her plan to entreat him, she teases with him in class about his professorÂ’s cap (299-301). Her use of humor with him, the playful offering of the noose composed of embroidery thread indicates that she sees herself as an equal to him in terms of po wer. As she reaches for his bonnetgrec, a signifier of his masculinity an d attendant power, he says to her that she may turn into a man for th e occasion and go the Athne in his stead. As he leaves the class, Paul jokes with Lucy about her power over him, comments which operate on two levels, one of humor, and one of an acknowledged truth about her position with him vis--vis gender relations (307-308). However, as is noted several times in the text, Paul is not always comfortable with Lucy standing on an equal footing with him. He sarcastically and sneeringly hisses in her ear vague threats concerning the limits to which females may aspire. As Lucy notes, Â“I was vaguely threatened with, I know not what d oom, if I ever trespassed the limits proper to my sex, and conceived a contraband appetite for unfeminine knowledgeÂ” (331). In a lecture, Paul says that Â“Women of intellectÂ” are a Â“luckless accidentÂ” who are not fit to be either wife or mother Â– thereby exhausting two out of five of the feminine gender roles available to Lucy in the world of th e novel, the others being a spinster,
122 nun or a whore (334). She disavows being a woman of intellect, and tells him that though she cannot claim to have the book knowledge that he suspects her of possessing, she sometimes, but not always, feels a knowledge of her own. Paul asks her to explain herself, and of course, she cannot, as the knowle dge of which she speaks is the knowledge of her identity, her knowledge of herself as masculine and feminine, and how her construction of self vis--vis gender places her in the larger cultural space. This kn owledge is important, as it is this knowledge that Lucy has gained fr om her transformation throughout the text (334). This knowledge of masculine and feminine gender roles, and her place within this matr ix, is knowledge that is far more useful to Lucy than the knowledge of Greek and Latin that Paul is so certain she possesses. It is her know ledge of gender that will form the basis of her narrative, the Â“usable pa stÂ” which Lucy is constructing for her female readers. For her refusal to cooperate with his plan, for her to write a composition in the presen ce of his colleagues, Paul accuses Lucy of having a demon-like pride ( 336). Paul sees vestiges of Ego in Lucy, a sustained sense of self, fo r what is pride but the ultimate statement of Ego? Shirley finds her spirit moved by the presence of the Moon, the Â“sweet regent.Â” Earth is made an Â“EdenÂ” for Shirley by the illumination of the heavens, bringing forth th e inborn joy in her soul to the
123 forefront of her spirit Â– it is descr ibed as a God and Nature-given gift, and she is said to have the experience of a genii-life because of it (387). Â“ShirleyÂ’s ambivalence is refl ected in her religious attitudes as well. She feels, as did Jane Eyre, the need for a female mythology, a religion which is not the product of the male imagination, not an extension of the patriarchal structur e. And, like Jane, Shirley finds her spiritual affinity in natureÂ” (Moglen 180). The narrator notes that Shirley is too indolent and inherently lazy to recognize the peculiarity of her visions and to inscribe her ex periences as text (the song which is sung to her) (388). Shirley does not write down the experiences, but Jane does, and Lucy does also. In this way, perhaps Shirley is the experience of the soul in the midd le of the growth cycle. Heilman describes Bront as setting forth a Â“kind of vision fiction had not known since BunyanÂ” in speaking of ShirleyÂ’s rhapsodies involving the moon (40). Caroline takes up issues of femi nism with the Misses Yorke at the Moore household (398-408). Rose takes Caroline to task over her solitary installation at the Rectory and points out that life is for the living, as seen in the book she reads ( The Italian ), that one should use what talents they have for their ow n betterment and edification as to do otherwise is wasteful and indeed sinful before the eyes of the
124 Maker. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar comment on the use of the word Â“talentÂ” in RoseÂ’s speech: The pun on the word talent is a functional one since RoseÂ’s point is precisely the connection between the financial dependence of women and the destruction of their creative potential: each and every one of the housekeeperÂ’s drawers, chests, boxes, closets, pots, and bags represents the ve ry skill that insures suicidal Â‘feminineÂ’ service, self-burial, and silence. (390) Caroline is well aware of the potentia l for self-destruction inherent in such service, as shown in her conv ersation with her Uncle regarding her desire to make a living of her own as a governess. Caroline does not wish to be buried in the Re ctory, amusing the curates at tea parties and attending to the work in the jews-basket. In the course of explaining to her Uncle why she wi shes to seek a situation with a family, she notes, Â“I should be we ll if I went from homeÂ” (189), and that she feels weak because Â“I be lieve I should have more to doÂ” (190). Rose points out to Caroline th at she would inevitably be happier anywhere other than the Â“widowed graveÂ” of the Rectory: Â“Much happier, even if you did nothing but wander Remember, however, that I shall have an object in view: but if yo u only went on and on, like some enchanted lady in a fairy tale, you mi ght be happier than nowÂ” (399).
125 Louis recites to Shirley Â“La Premiere Femme SavantÂ” (the first bluestocking), upon her challenge (485-490). It is the story of an orphaned girl, more or less abando ned by her primeval tribe, whose care is ultimately left to the natural world, a world that is created as a utopian ideal of environment. Described in this passage is the image of the woman as tabula rasa, a Â“clear candid pageÂ” on which knowledge may inscribe a Â“golden recordÂ” (487). Note also in this passage that Shirley is seen marking up MooreÂ’ s texts Â– again, a habit she had inculcated in her youth. She makes her mark on his pages. As Shirley and Moore take turns in recitation their voices mirror each other, and they seem to be two halves of a whol e self, integrated in their love of the arts of recitation. Moore notes th at he approves of nothing Utopian in the last paragraph of the chapter (and, of course, the first recitation was entirely Utopian in nature ) (493-495). Moore notes that the characters of Â“queenÂ” and Â“childÂ” ar e in ShirleyÂ’s nature Â– consider these perhaps as Crone and Maiden, respectively? (505). Jane is a wild woman in gestation, waiting to come in to her own power, her own ascendancy, as she will note later in her narrative. Here too is another parallel between Lucy and Jane Â– both women are learning to grasp and exercise powe r, and they both must learn the difference between power-over (which is what both of them are raised up with) and power-from-within (which is something they learn after
126 they get a grip on their identities and values). They both also learn when to exert each type of power Â– what situations call for which kind. Jane commits to living entirely in the present for her own survival. She talks about her past an d future in narrative terms, as book pages: her past is Â“a page so heavenly sweet Â– so deadly sad Â– that to read one line of it would dissolve my courage and break down my energy.Â” Her future is a blank page: Â“The last was awful blank: something like the world when the deluge was gone byÂ” (323). Consider the idea of the woman as a blank page, awaiting inscription. Jane here seems to be committing to inscribing her life story upon her own pages; her commitment to living in the present, and to determining her own destiny, confirms this. From St. JohnÂ’s story of her newfound fortune, monetary and family, Jane finds a new link of chain is forged Â– this one tying her to her human family (as opposed to her fairy family in Rochester). She is thrilled with the bequest of family more so than money, to blood kin rather than gold (386). Attesting to JaneÂ’s visionary capabilities, she looks upon a blank wall in her cottage, and she sees Â“a sky, thick with ascending stars, Â– every one lit me to a purpose or delight.Â” She feels the gold weigh heavily upon her at first, but now her fortune is a Â“legacy of life, hope, enjoymentÂ” (388).
127 Speaking of enclosure and esca pe, Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar claim that the BrontsÂ’ characters are devising escape routes out of the patriarchal society th ey, as Victorian women, find themselves enclosed with in. It seems that the e scape the Bronts, in terms of their characters and themse lves, are really looking for is an escape from the flesh, from th e body, through the venue of the imagination. Gilbert and Gubar note, Â“In the process of writing her life history, we realize, Lucy has cont inued the learning process begun by the events she narratesÂ” (427). Lucy Caroline, Shirley, and Jane are healing their psychic and physical wounds by giving them Â“words and witness,Â” per Jungian psychoanalyst Clarissa Pinkola-Estes conceptionxviii, through their writing, on two levels. On one level they, the Bronts, are writing for an au dience (both each other and the larger Victorian readership), and the narrators in their texts are writing for an audience (indeed, in the case of Charlotte, frequently addressing such an audience). Lucy as author, recovers her own voice in writing her narrative: Â“LucyÂ’s plots have led not to burial but to exorcism, for she is in the process of becoming the author not only of her own life story but of her own lifeÂ” (Gilbert and Gubar 434). Lucy, in giving words and witne ss to Miss MarchmontÂ’s suffering, also gives the same to her own. She shall be reborn in Miss MarchmontÂ’s chamber, her new life in Villette coming as a
128 consequence of Miss MarchmontÂ’s death. Furthering this image of new life about to be reborn, the reader is told that Lucy sleeps in a crib in Miss MarchmontÂ’s closet, an enclosur e within an enclosure, one which communicates a sense of infantilization (37). Jane resolves to marry St. John if it is indeed GodÂ’s will. The room is full of moonlight as Jane makes her plea to Heaven to Â“show me, show me the path!Â” Across th e moors, comes a voice well-known and loved, calling her name thrice. Jane recognizes that this is no mere superstition but Â“the work of na tureÂ” that has answered her plea (422-423). Jane is free now from St. John Â– it is not his God that has answered her heartÂ’s call but the Â“M ighty SpiritÂ” that she prays to inside: Â“It was my time to assume ascendency. My powers were in play, and in force.Â” Jane goes upstai rs to her chamber and Â“fell on my knees; and prayed in my way Â– a different way to St. JohnÂ’s, but effective in its own fashion. I seemed to penetrate very near a Mighty Spirit; and my soul rushed out in gr atitude at His feetÂ” (422). Note the masculine image in place here Â– she Â“penetratesÂ” in much the same way St. John penetrates Jane with his rhetoric and searing gaze.
129 Psychic Space: Mothers The Mother archetype embodies, literally and figuratively, different things: reproduction, ch ange, nurturing, the cauldron of death and rebirth. Helene Moglen comments on JaneÂ’s transformation from a maiden to a mother, in Ro chesterÂ’s newfound dependence on Jane at Ferndean. She notes that Ja neÂ’s words Â“belong to the virginal daughter who has been magically transformedÂ—without the mediation of sexual contactÂ—into the noble figure of the nurturing motherÂ” (143). All four heroines experience a transformation from Maiden to Mother in their narratives, educated by Â“mothersÂ” of various types, from Mrs. Pryor, ShirleyÂ’s surr ogate mother and CarolineÂ’s birth mother, to Lucy and Mrs. Bretton, Miss Marchmont, and Paul Emanuel, and Jane, who is mothered by the intangible but imminent Great Mother goddess in nature, by Mrs. Temple, Helen Burns, and th e two sisters of Moor House. The Mother has two as pects, the nurturing mother whose bosom and womb are resplendent with life-giving nutrition, and the terrible mother, who calls us to he r breast and womb in order to dismember us so that we may be reborn into the world. The MotherÂ’s body engenders the sacred cy cle of death and rebirth. It is also worth noting, from a Jungian perspective, that LucyÂ’s educational backdrop, the shaper s of the enclosures that she experiences, are either women, or men who have the ability to nurture
130 her. She starts in Bretton, her godmotherÂ’s home, travels to Miss MarchmontÂ’s home, and arrives in Villette at the Pensionnat de Demoiselles, run by Madame Beck. Her two compatriots, at Bretton and Villette, are female (Polly an dGinevra). Her experiences in the world of art, visual and performe d, are concerned with images of women (the paintings in the gallery, and the performance of Vashti). Helene Moglen notes that Paul is a Â“maternal figureÂ” to Lucy (215216), and Robert Colby states Â“Throu gh the awakening and invigorating influence of Monsieur Paul, Lucy hers elf achieves the harmony of soul she admires in himÂ” (44). Ev en Paul, who becomes an important teacher and agent of transformation in Lucy, is himself enclosed by women (Madame Walravens, the hag, Ma dame Beck, and the various incarnations of Justine Marie Â– the ghostl y legend of the nun, his memories of the real Justine Marie, and his ward Justine Marie). All of the aforementioned wome n and mothers by proxy have something to teach Lucy about what it means to be a woman, in societal and cultural capacities. They teach Lucy about the gender roles women are expected to pl ay, the cultural meanings of Â“femininityÂ” and give her something to agitate against in this respect. The Jungian archetypes of the Grea t and Terrible Mothers, and of the Hag, appear in these women Â– the Great Mother in Mrs. Bretton and Miss Marchmont, the Terrible Mother in Madame Walravens and also
131 Madame Beck, the Hag in Walravens, Marchmont and Beck, to varying degrees. All of these archetypes are necessary for Lucy to construct her identity. LucyÂ’s narrative is in formed by these archetypes, though not governed by them. Shirley will not enter the church; she observes a personified Nature in prostration at Her altar, saying her prayers and blessings. She also compares the spirit of natu re to Eve Â– and Caroline says, that is NOT MiltonÂ’s Eve. Shirley conc eives of the great mother Eve and prefers to pray with her than the patriarchal church. Caroline considers the word Â“motherÂ” as Shirley sees it, and dreams of her own birth mother reclaiming her to her home Shirley says Â“The first womanÂ’s breast that heaved with life on this world yielded the daring which could contend with OmnipotenceÂ…Â” Â– sh e goes on to note the strength of women throughout the ages till the emergence of Christ (319-321). As John Kucich notes in his article Â“Passionate Reserve and Reserved Passion in the Works of Charlotte BrontÂ” regarding the value of reserved spaces, Â“Reserve appears to be available for the advantage Â– one might say even the Â‘fulfillmentÂ’ Â– of certain individuals within the very cult ure that tries to oppress those individuals by imposing reserve fr om withoutÂ” (86). Jane, Caroline, Shirley, and Lucy are looking fo r nurturing and solace in these gestational spaces, and what they di scover is that they must learn how
132 to self-nurture, how to care for th emselves, how to be comfortable and happy in their own bodies, in their own personas, in their own lives. In chapter thirty-one, Â“The Dryad,Â” Lucy retreats to the alley garden enclosure to settle her lif e accounts. In the process of contemplation, she discusses the id ea of opening her own school, the final vestige of her financial and personal independence. However, beyond this possible accomplishment, she asks whether she is to live without love, Â“if there is nothing more for me in life Â– no true home Â– nothing to be dearer to me th an myself, and by its paramount preciousness, to draw from me better things than I care to culture for myself only?Â” (340). Her choice of words is worth noting in this passage, as she equates a soul connection, a true love for another human being with her hoped-for Â“tr ue homeÂ” (340). A home of her own is exactly what Paul arranges for her, and in keeping with it as her place of independence, though Paul has procured it for her she must keep it up on her own. Once agai n, Lucy looks to nature as the referent for her narrative; she conc ludes that she is a crescent moon, not a full orb (340). In reading this passage, one wonders whether this passage of LucyÂ’s narrative is reflective of what Charlotte Bront was for Arthur Bell Nicholls Â– hi s true home, and he hers? JaneÂ’s description of her cottage sounds like LucyÂ’s Â– as does her estimation of what kind of life she will lead as a teacher. Jane reveals
133 her feelings Â– she is not content in this life Â– she feels Â“desolate,Â” and Â“degradedÂ” by the coarseness of her charges (360-361). Jane declares that Â“domestic endearments and househ old joysÂ” are the Â“best things in the world!Â” (393). St. John exhorts Ja ne to look beyond these transient joys, higher than the Â“transient objectsÂ” of Â“ties of the fl eshÂ” to be more ambitious in employing the talents give n to her by her Creator, of which St. John warns her God will ca ll to a strict accounting. Speaking of Jane and RochesterÂ’s relationship at the end of the story and of the relationship betw een houses and landscapes, Helene Moglen states Â“The truth of this rela tionship is an interior truth, as remote from social reality as ar e Gateshead, Lowood, Thornfield, Marsh End, and FerndeanÂ—themselve s all landscapes of psychological developmentÂ” (145). Note JaneÂ’s travel through the houses: Gateshead, Thornfield, Moor Hous e, and Ferndean. Each home is increasingly more reflective of ties to the natural world, both in name and in nature (the nature of the buildings, grounds and general furnishings, aura, etc.), all of whic h coincides with JaneÂ’s journey to reconcile her self, her fairy and hu man natures, and her passion and her reason. From a psychological perspective, the female protagonists enter into the darkness of psychic death, despair and dis-memberment, and have to reconstruct themselves. They are entering into the archetypal
134 Underworld, where they must confront and resolve all those aspects of self and womanhood that are abject. Lucy must undergo one more und erworld journey before novelÂ’s end, the difference between this one and the previous being the external construction and frame of this particular journey Â– the hypnagogic night flight through the park brought on by Madame BeckÂ’s drugging of Lucy. The opiate Beck or ders frees LucyÂ’s imagination, and she goes out in to the night in a liminal state Â– a hypnagogic state between sleeping and waking, un der a Â“moon supremeÂ” (421-422). There are some key differences between each of these underworld journeys. Lucy is gu ided through this journey by Imagination, not Death, and her atti tude is different, too; instead of being deeply depressed and anxious, she is excited, her senses keenly aroused by the powerful drug whic h has freed her somewhat from her inhibitions. The only aspect of Death that rears its head in this passage is visible in the sky over the pens ionnat, which Lucy says, Â“bears the aspect of a worldÂ’s deathÂ” (423). He r interpretation of the sky is on target, as the omen is indeed indica tive of a worldÂ’s death, the world of the pensionnat and all its atte ndant trappings which have held power over Lucy Â– Madame Beck, th e image of the Nun, which Lucy will soon leave for her own space.
135 Lucy crosses thresholds on he r journey through the psychic underworld, such as the pensionnat threshold (423) and the gates to the park (424). Under a flaming arch of stars, Lucy goes into the park. She describes the space of the park in exotic terms Â– she enters Â“a land of enchantment,Â” not of Â“trees and shadowsÂ” but of Â“altars and templesÂ” (424). This description furt hers the conceptualization of this space as a magical, liminal real m, a space existing outside the boundaries of the conscious world. Wa ter imagery, of the sea, and the tidal wave of people and stimuli, permeates the text in waves, recalling the imagery of rebirth in th e sea cave at La Terrasse. LucyÂ’s aim is to find the basin of cool wa ter, Â“the circular mirror of crystal,Â” and to surprise the moonÂ’s reflection therein (424-426). Lucy is confronted by Graham in the park but manages to evade his steady, questioning gaze. In th e process of exchanging glances with him, she comes to an underst anding of the status of her and GrahamÂ’s relationship Â– that both w ill keep an enclosure in their heart, specially set aside, each for the othe r. Coming to this type of closure of the tension between her and Grah am is one of the emotional tasks that Lucy had to complete before she could develop a true romantic relationship with Paul. It seems th at now the Â“unquiet tombÂ” of her buried letters has ceased to disr upt her dreams, as she does not
136 mention any further rumination on her romantic attachment to Graham after this point. Lucy also spies on the meetin g of the Beck/Walravens/Emanuel clan in the wooded glen. In viewin g Paul come on the scene with his ward, Lucy says that in her whole life she liked to penetrate to the truth of things Â– to see the Goddess in her temple and to lift the veil. (436). However true this may be Â– that Lucy has always sought the Truth Â– she misjudges the truth of the state of affairs between Paul and his ward. She does ascertain so me part of the truth, however, when she notes further along in th e episode that, regarding PaulÂ’s vows, Â“the saintly consecration, th e vow of constancy, that was forgotten: the blooming and charming Present prevailed over the Past; and at length his nun was indeed bu riedÂ” (437). PaulÂ’s nun is buried Â– he has chosen the flesh and blood of Lucy over his long-deceased and utterly unavailable nun. In her comment s on the ending of LucyÂ’s tale, Kate Millet notes, Â“Lucy is free. Free is alone; given a choice between Â‘loveÂ’ in its most agreeable cont emporary manifestation, and freedom, Lucy chose to retain the individu alist humanity she had shored up, even at the expense of sexualityÂ” (263). His vows of constancy and consecration have not so much evaporated as has been passed to a new target Â– Lucy. Lucy and Paul ma y not have a sexual relationship, but they do have a loving relationship as Paul proves his love for Lucy
137 by endowing her with her own space, away from the prying eyes of Madame Beck. Lucy does not yet understand that Paul has committed to her; she will have to have to be shown the physical space, the enclosure that Paul has secured for her, in order to relinquish the illusion and embrace the truth of Paul Â’s love for her and the truth of her genuine freedom in her own school. Brenda Silver has a slightly different point of view from Millet regarding LucyÂ’s freedom at the end of the novel: LucyÂ’s life does not end with Pa ulÂ’s; the observant reader will have noted that the school clearly continues to prosper and that Lucy, by the time she begins her narrative, knows the West End of London as well as her beloved City (chapter six). Rewriting the traditional novel to illustrate the limited plots available to women in literature, as in life, she has survived the destruction of the romantic fantasy and grow n into another reality. (303) PaulÂ’s genuine love for Lucy lives on in the tangible form of the home and school he provided for her. Thou gh she does lack PaulÂ’s physical presence in her life, in the flesh, he shall always be present in spirit, in-forming LucyÂ’s life and mind, and for Lucy, that is enough. As Lucy notes, Â“I thought I loved him when he went away; I love him more now in another degree; he is more my ownÂ” (463).
138 Caroline and Shirley find freedom of a sort in their connections, albeit not as complete as Jane or Lucy. Caroline find s sustenance in her motherÂ’s love Â– a void has been filled for her, and as she convalesces she no longer cries ou t repeatedly for water or rejects food (444-446). Note the scene in which Robert and Caroline are engaged (638-639). She has watered a ro se tree in her garden (roses are associated with the Virgin Mary and before that with the Goddess), and she stands contemplating the Star of Love (the planet Venus) Â– and she specifically notes the white of the starshine set against the red of the summer festival bonfires (go ddess colors for that season). She thinks that her mother has embraced her, but finds it is Robert Â– and indeed, he will be mother and husband to her. He refers to Caroline as a rose and himself as a rock Â– an d makes an Â“angel in the houseÂ” comment about her bringing him a Â“sol ace,Â” Â“charityÂ” and Â“purityÂ” that he does not possess on his own (641). The Â“angelÂ” is supposed to inspire her husband to better mora l behaviors, and we can see in RobertÂ’s attitude that he buys into this mythology too. Shirley puts off her marriage to Lo uis with great procrastination, but he eventually prevails upon her for a date. She is described as Â“vanquished and restrictedÂ” and is said to pine away for her lost freedom (637). Shirley so distances he rself from her marriage that it is up to Louis to undertake all arra ngements, and indeed to assume
139 leadership of Fieldhead as she abdi cates all her power as mistress of the home to him. Shirley makes a comment after a year of marriage indicating that she had to do so, be cause if she did not abdicate power Louis would never learn how to be a leader (638). Barbara Hannah speaks to the value of marriage in Shirley : From the point of view of the ac hievement of totality it is the most successful of the three [novels, Jane Eyre Shirley and Villette ], for it ends with the simu ltaneous double marriage of the two pairs, so that a true quaternio is established. Moreover, a sort of epilogue inform s us that it was an enduring and fruitful quaternion: Shirley and her husband Louis Moore, staying on at the manor house which belonged to the former, and Caroline and her husband, Robert Moore, at the nearby Mill, both pairs living long, industrious and benevolent lives. (142) Barbara HannahÂ’s reading of the marriages in Shirley indicates Shirley and Caroline have made entered into unions that are fulfilling and satisfying. Even though Shirley has evident trouble reconciling her love for Louis and desire for his comp anionship with the concept of marriage, she demonstrates her desire and commitment to Louis in her commentary to her Uncle Sympso n: Â“I would die before I would have another. I would die if I might not have himÂ” (627).
140 St. John is frozen over again, and his deep freeze seems to cover Jane over as well Â– she says she is Â“under a freezing spellÂ” and that Â“he acquired a certain influe nce over me that took away my liberty of mindÂ” (398-400). He k eeps her under his ever-present, watchful eye, and only rewards he r fortitude Â– nothing else. He is enclosing her in his gaze as surely as Rochester did, attempting to make her over in his image of what a woman should be, what qualities she should incubate and what roles sh e should play. Jane says with St. John in the room, she feels as thou gh she sits in the room with something Â“uncanny.Â” St. JohnÂ’s contro l of Jane crests when he starts the extend the ritual of a good-night kiss to his sisters to Jane Â– his first kiss is an Â“experimentalÂ” kiss, as he carefully gauges her reaction, and is pleased with her grave complianc e. His kiss is like that of ice or marble, devoid of passion (401). Jane feels that to please St. John she must Â“disown half her nature,Â” and that it would be as impossible for her to aspire to his goals as it would be to change her eyes Â– his desire to re-form her is indeed crea ting a type of flesh tie, which is hypocritical on St. JohnÂ’s part. Though St. John is certainly not of the fey, he weaves a spell, a charm, around Jane all the same as he attempts to persuade her to go with him, as his wife, to India to do missionary work. Jane comments that she feels an Â“iron shroudÂ” enveloping her, and St. JohnÂ’s Â“shaping
141 handÂ” Â– she feels his influence in he r marrow, his hold on her limbs Â– his influence has penetrated her body like a rape of her being. Jane finally loses her fear of St. John and se es him for what he is Â– he is not a saint but a mortal, through and through Â– Â“the veil fell from his hardness and despotismÂ” (404-409). Jane recognizes that if she went with St. John freely, there would be Â“recessesÂ” in her mind that woul d be free of his influence, to which he never came, where she could nurtu re and shelter such sentiments as she pleased. Her body would be under yoke, but her heart and mind would be free Â– and as long as she could have these enclosures to retreat to Â– these window recesse s, where she could escape into her visions Â– she could survive. But as hi s wife, she would become part of him, and he part of her, and so her private spaces would disappear. The fire of her passionate nature would always be checked, and would consume her vitals, destroying her from the inside out (instead of from the outside-in, which going as his sister would facilitate Â– in either case she would be destroyed soon enough) (410). St. John as hierophant (master of mysteries, prie st of the sacred revelations from God) lays his hand on her head, after he has spoken to her of perdition, wrath and redemption (421). Jane is once again at the Whit cross crossroads; she hires the same carriage and feels like a Â“messenger-pigeon flying homeÂ” (425-
142 426). As Jane approaches Thornfield on foot, she sees the rookery and hears the crows call. Also, notice the time of year Â– it is still spring, the month of June, when she sets ou t to find Rochester. Traditionally, June is the month for marriages. In lig ht of this idea, it is interesting to read the metaphor that Jane uses to describe her experience of Thornfield in its present state. She lif ts the veil only to find the Â“lover,Â” Thornfield and its occupants, dead and gone. Jane will find her Â“loverÂ” at Ferndean, in the safety of the deep woods, away from society. Rosemarie Bodenheimer speaks to the terms of JaneÂ’s marriage to Rochester at Ferndean: Â“She alon e, like the fairy-tale prince, can release Rochester from the prison of despair he has locked himself intoÂ…so RochesterÂ’s idea of Jane as his fairy-tale instrument of salvation comes true Â– but not until it has been rewritten in JaneÂ’s termsÂ” (111). Indeed, as ever, Ja ne must live her life on her own terms. She refuses the hierophant, St John, as she ultimately refuses to be mastered by anyone. Jane comes to Rochester with her independence, her own fortune, and will in many ways become the Master of her former Master.
143 Chapter Three: Emergence Physical Space: Domestic Space, Stage Space, Landscape and the Body Jane, Caroline, Shirley, and Lucy are not enveloped by space; they develop space, and derive power from this generative activity. The power they generate is not patriarchal Â“power-over,Â” but Â“power-fromwithin.Â”xix As Sandra Gilbert and Susa n Gubar note regarding women reclaiming their own power in term s of Mary ShelleyÂ’ s cave parable: This last parable is the story of the woman artist who enters the cavern of her own mind and find s there scattered leaves not only of her own power, but of the tradition which might have generated that power. The body of her precursorÂ’s art, and thus the body of her own art, lies in pieces around her, dismembered, dis-remembered, disintegrated. How can she remember it and become a member of it, join it an d rejoin it, integrate it and in doing so achieve her own integrity, her own selfhood?...Her trip into the cavern of her own mind despite (or perhaps because of) its falls in darkness, its stumblin gs, its anxious wanderings, begins
144 the process of re-memberingÂ…the female artist makes her journey into what Adrienne Rich has calle d Â‘the cratered night of female memoryÂ’ to revitalize th e darkness, to retrieve what has been lost, to regenerate, reconceive, and give birth. (98-99) In this passage, Gilbert and Gubar dilate upon the process by which female artists claim their identities and refer to the re-membering of the selfhood as a process of the artist reclaiming the bits and pieces of womenÂ’s narratives, the Â“body of he r precursorÂ’s art.Â” In the process outlined in this dissertation of enclosure, transformation, and emergence, Jane, Caroline, Shirley, and Lucy demonstrate their integrated selves as they have each descended into the cave of experience, and have come out the other side with viable narratives for women. They have completed th eir journeys of education and are now in a position to educate others, in such venues as schoolhouses, domestic spaces, and in their narratives. Brenda R. Silver, speaking of Lucy Snowe notes: Lucy both courts and laments the roles assigned to her by others in what is rightfully read as he r search for selfhood. Ultimately, however, who Lucy is is insepara ble from what she is: a teller of tales unspeakable in the presence of either her comfortable and comforting godmother and the fr iends who surround her at La Terrasse, or the colder, more worldly, yet equally
145 uncomprehending eavesdroppers at the pensionnat on the Rue FossetteÂ…Knowing, however, that ca nnot trust others to perceive her as she is Â– that even when she is not invisible she is more than likely to be misread Â– Lucy goes one step further: she projects her readers into the la ndscape of the novel, the text, and asks them to use th eir imaginations in a mutual act of creation which in turn validates her own emerging self. In this way her narrative both inscribes her evol ving identity and establishes a community of readers whose reco gnition and acceptance provide the context necessary for an individualÂ’s growth to maturity Â– a context all too often de nied to women. (287) Lucy and Paul meet again before he leaves, where Lucy finally admits publicly to the real truth Â– that her heart would break if she were denied PaulÂ’s presence. Here, she has finally penetrated to the truth of things, in her admission of love. Of LucyÂ’s declaration of her love for Paul, Moglen states Â“Her capacity for love, newly discovered, newly explored, brings with it se lf-knowledge and expressionÂ” (224). In speaking of PaulÂ’s declaration, Helene Moglen observes Â“In his love, Paul has also been able to find th e will to self-assertionÂ” (224). On their last journey together, Paul shows her what he has been preparing for her, her new place of abode and her schoolhouse, and so
146 LucyÂ’s journey of education is over Â– she has been educated, and now has her own place in which to educate others. In the last chapter of Villette Lucy says, Â“M. Emanuel was away three years. Reader, they were th e three happiest years of my lifeÂ” (461). Lawrence notes, Â“If it is Paul Â’s presence that enables the love plot to continue, it is, as Karen Ch ase points out, PaulÂ’s absence that allows the plot of ambition to th rive Â– Lucy succeeds as headmistress and writer, in the spaces provided by PaulÂ’s absenceÂ” (317). PaulÂ’s absence in the flesh and his presence in his benevolent gifts to Lucy allow Lucy to flourish in her new spac e. Paul is present to Lucy during this time in the letters he writes to her, and even in his absence he provides nurturance: Â“His letters were real food that nourished, living water that refreshedÂ” (462). Referring to the end of the story, Karen Lawrence notes Â“Lucy returns us to herself as writer, Â‘f iguringÂ’ her story and its arbitrary ending (Â“enough saidÂ”). The space provided by PaulÂ’s absence has allowed for the writing of the Â‘heretic narrativeÂ’; it allows a space for Lucy to record her experiences with Â‘resolute penÂ’Â” (317). She has her independence, which she has more than earned by her steadfast insistence on her own worth and identity. Andrew Hook states: In Villette just as in Jane Eyre Charlotte Bront sets high value on individual independence an d freedom. Both Jane Eyre and
147 Lucy Snowe have a healthy sense of their own worth, and many of their trials arise from their n eed to assert and preserve their individualityÂ…but what Lucy discove rs in this closing section of the book is that freedom is not to be defined only as a negative preservation of individual independence, and is not to be achieved at the expense of fee ling and the imagination. (155) Even though Lucy will not have Paul in the flesh in the end, she does have his love, shown in a tangible form in the enclosure he has lovingly prepared for her. Lucy an d Paul have educated each other, nurtured each other through their sh ared love, on their individual paths to selfhood. Robert Moore returns home to his cottage and says he does so Â“sadder and wiserÂ” than he was six months prior when he left it. He knows now that financial ruin, while in deed a low state, is not akin to personal dishonor. He professes to hi s sister that he is Â“glad to be home,Â” an odd phrase from a man who had never really considered the cottage in the Hollow his home, Â“and to whom its narrow limits had always heretofore seemed rath er restrictive than protectiveÂ” (596). Robert is finding the value in such an enclosure in a way that he could not before his underworld journe y. Caroline is sent for by Robert, and upon her arrival there is a tran quil, pleasant domestic scene, and
148 Robert says again that he is Â“pleased to come homeÂ” (598). For indeed, CarolineÂ’s presence makes his house a home. The metaphors (teachings) of the horse chestnut tree are important to note, as they apply to all three novels. Two halves reunited, growing strong together Â– the fractures have been healed. On the eve of their orig inal wedding day, Jane repairs to the orchard for safety and solace, as her mind is troubled on her wedding eve (278-279). The wind blows strong from the South, and one must consider all the possible connotation s of this direction: BerthaÂ’s homeland, the notion of change. Ja ne looks upon the horse chestnut tree, split and decaying, and says of each piece, Â“each of you has a comrade to sympathize with in hi s decay.Â” A blood-red moon shines through the two halves after she sp eaks to the tree. Robert Heilman summarizes BrontÂ’s efforts in em ploying the moon in her works: She is restating in lunar imagery the problem with which she was always concerned Â– the distinction between an imagination which falsified reality by creating specious comfort or needless fear, and imagination which in tuited truth. She rejects moonbeam mirages but never the moon. If she is on guard against quixotic mistakes, it seem s to me safe to say that she never rejects the quixotic vision. (48)
149 As Heilman notes in his commentary, Charlotte Bront uses the forces of nature to communicate truth, and this is true of the lessons imparted by the horse chest nut tree, the moon, and other ambassadors of Nature as the Great Mother. Caroline begins her journey as the ghost of Mary Cave in appearance. Enclosed in her room, Caroline sees her image in outline on the wall Â– a pale phantom. In he r mindÂ’s eye, she sees the freedom and joy she and Robert experienced in nature, in the enclosure of the woods, and she contrasts it with he r present state of affairs (172-173). Caroline, after suffering through a di smemberment of spirit as serious in kind as the cracked hawthorne tr ee, is healed through reunion with her mother, Mrs. Pryor, and her union with Robert Moore. Shirley, the matron of Fieldhead, seems to have everything at the start of her journey: money, a home of her own, and a faithful friend and companion in Mrs. Pryor, her gove rness. However, Shirley lacks for love, and the Captain must navigate her way through the paths of union offered (Robert Moore, Sa muel Fawthrop Wynne, Sir Philip Nunnely) to find her true love matc h with her tutor, Louis Moore. Lucy, upon meeting Mrs. Marchmont, sees herself in the mirror as Â“a faded, hollow-eyed visionÂ” (32). Though sh e recognizes that she still feels Â“life at lifeÂ’s sources,Â” she is like th e split horse chestnut tree, as she must find the ways in which she ca n feed the source of her life, the
150 wellspring of her desire, which eventu ally comes to pass as a result of her relationship with Paul Emanuel. Consider RochesterÂ’s insubstantia lity to Jane earlier on in the novel; though he was only at time a Â“dreamÂ” to her, he has form and substance now. All is surreal to Jane upon seeing Rochester; she calls him phantom-like and a mere dream. He puts his hand and arm in front of her and asks her whether sh e finds them real. She says, Â“yes, though I touch it, it is a dreamÂ” (281). By the end of the novel, Rochester and Jane are united in flesh, soul, and spirit. As Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar poin t out in their chapter on Jane Eyre : Apparently mutilated, he is paradoxically stronger than he was when he ruled Thornfield, for now, like Jane, he draws his powers from within himself, rath er than from inequity, disguise, deception. (369) RochesterÂ’s very soul demands Jane or it will play havoc on his earthly frame. She pledges herself to him, to be his Â“eyes and hands.Â” Jane also says she must Â“reh umanizeÂ” him Â– he is being metamorphosed into a lion, his hair is like Â“eagle feathersÂ” and she speculates on his nails as claws. He shows her his deformities, and she is not dissuaded in the least (439). In quoting from TennysonÂ’s poem The Princess John R. Reed notes: Â“TennysonÂ’s recommendation, when Prince and Princess finally
151 unite, is that Â‘the man be more of a woman, and she of manÂ’ VIIÂ” (52). He also says, in speaking of archetypal womenÂ’s gender roles, Â“It was a question of finding the pr oper balance between Judith and GriseldaÂ” (52). The first quotation sp eaks to the anima/animus concept of Jung, whereby men and women reflect a balanced, integrated persona. Secondly, Jane, as well as her compatriot female protagonists in the other novels find their bala nce between the strong Judith and the patient Griselda.
152 Cultural Space: Construction s of Class and Gender Roles Jane, Caroline, Shirley, and Lucy, having broken and reconstructed the borders of class, cultural roles and gender roles, have created new class, cultural an d gender roles for themselves, and by extension for other women. As Harold Bloom notes in his introduction to Jane Eyre : Modern Critical Interpretations Â“Is Rochester a man? Is Jane Eyre a woman?...The nuances of gender, within literary representation, are mo re bewildering even than they are in the bedroomÂ” (5). Caroline moves beyond becoming a copy of Mary Cave. Jane has become a Fairy Queen to her Fairy King. Lucy has become a Wise Woman teacher. Jane says of herself at Gateshead, as a child, that she was Â“unwilling to purchase liberty at the price of casteÂ” (26). In the end, Jane will not purchase liberty at the price of caste, as she will have found money, manners, and family Â– and will have liberty within her marriage to Rochester, as she will lead him, as his hands and eyes. As Rosemarie Bodenheimer in her articl e Â“Jane Eyre in Search of Her StoryÂ” points out regarding JaneÂ’s relationship with Rochester at the end of the story, Â“She becomes Â‘the instrument for his cureÂ’, in the way he had earlier intended, but through the powers of the storyteller to move her audienceÂ” (1 03). Bodenheimer goes on to say of Jane as storyteller, Â“In the end it becomes impossible to answer the question
153 Â‘Then what kind of story is JaneÂ’s life?Â’ For it is the life of a storyteller in a world full of fictions, a teller whos e claim to originality as a character rests in her ability to take charge of so many kinds of stories in a narrative that seem s both to credit and quarre l with them allÂ” (112). Jane tells Rochester that her heart belongs to him alone Â– and that if fate bade her to leave him, it would remain with him forever. He thinks of himself as useless and dead as the old lightning-struck chestnut tree Â– but Jane points out that he is green and vigorous at the roots and will regenerate. Â“Pla nts will grow about your roots, whether you ask them or not, beca use they take delight in your bountiful shadow, and as they grow they will lean towards you, and wind round you, because your strength offers them so safe a propÂ” (447). Rochester asks Jane to marry him, and she assents heartily. He tells her that he has worn her intended bridal necklace around his neck, under his cravat, as a token/ talisman of his vanished love. He says that in the year they have b een separated, he has had to walk through the Â“valley of the shadow of deathÂ” in order to be humbled and so reborn to God. He tells Ja ne about calling to her through the woods in the moonlight night, and of hearing her voice in return. He intimates to her that their spirits must have met and mingled out in the wilds somewhere, and Jane keep s her experience of that evening to herself, and Â“ponders this in he r heartÂ” (note the language here; it
154 is the same language Mary uses in the Bible). He pledges before Jane and God to lead a purer life than he has previously (448-451). Rochester and Jane do live in a sort of cave/liminal space at Ferndean. The Â“alabaster cave and silver vale Â” signifies Ferndean as a womblike enclosure, set apart from the worl d at large and the rules of human society. Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar note, Â“Ferndean, as its name implies, is without artifice Â– Â‘no fl owers, no garden-bedsÂ’ Â– but it is green as Jane tells Rochester he w ill be, green and ferny and fertilized by soft rainsÂ” (370). Rochester is JaneÂ’s Celestial City (a la PilgrimÂ’s Progress ). Regarding St. John Rivers, the Â“recessesÂ” in JaneÂ’s mind would never be enough Â– though she would have positive enclosures she would have no wind ows of opportunity. Caroline, Jane, Lucy, and Shirle y have taken ownership of and transformed the cultural role of th e working woman. At the end of the protagonistsÂ’ journey to identity, the working, independent woman is not constructed as a low-class marginalized woman stripped of her femininity by her generative work and denied masculinity because of her sex. They have an inherent sense of their self-worth, and are comfortable with their femininity and masculinity.
155 Narrative Space: Identity and the Knstlerroman Jane, Caroline, Shirley, and Lucy have completed their PilgrimÂ’s Progress and have found the peace and self-knowledge for which they sought throughout the narrative. Th eir journey ends on the earthly plane, however, not the celestial plane as in PilgrimÂ’s Progress These women come to live in two places; the earthly, concrete domains of their bodies and their homes, and th e liminal space of their narratives, their art. Jane, Caroline, Shirley, an d LucyÂ’s narratives become part of womenÂ’s usable past, influencing th e shape of womenÂ’s narratives, in art and life, to come. John Kucich speaks to psychic space and narrative freedom: Bront, the English novelist who fi rst fully develops a logic of emotional reserve, destabilizes he r characters in relation to struggles for power, and in that way promises them a kind of psychic freedom not limited by its re lation to Â‘tacticalÂ’ pressures, a freedom that appears to be more pleasurably undefined and undefinable. (69) Lucy compares the spatial and temp oral enclosure of her godmotherÂ’s home to the journey of Christ ian and Hopeful from BunyanÂ’s PilgrimÂ’s Progress where they find themselves on a river bank that seems as though it is caught up in perpet ual spring, with green trees and lilies the year round (4). Lucy shall even tually, like Christian and Hopeful,
156 have to leave the fair and lovely re alm of everlasting fruition and move on through different and rougher terra in in order to achieve the goals of knowing oneself and finding wholen ess, such as when she journeys to Miss MarchmontÂ’s home, and then across the water to Villette. After this journey, Lucy can tell her own story: After PaulÂ’s death, she receives at last the inheritance from Miss Marchmont. She is responsible fo r her school. She is of use. She pursues her talents and maintain s relationships. Without hope, she is not happy, but she is strong. Virginal, she has still experienced passion. Childless, he r life is full of children and will not be sterile. Alone and lonely, she is not alienated. Surviving, she need not live as a survivor. She does not have to tell the story of another. Now she ca n tell and understand her own. (Moglen 229) Caroline is substantial/substantiated now (by virtue of finding her mother, her lover, and her courag e); she is integrated, no longer a Â“ghost of herself,Â” as Sandra Gilb ert and Susan Gubar point out (378), like the ghost of Mary Cave that sh e resembled for so long. CarolineÂ’s story is the story of learning to inhabit her flesh. As Katherine M. Rogers points out in The Troublesome Helpmate: A History of Misogyny in Literature Â“Insistence of wome nÂ’s weakness and the sweetness of submission was a ge ntle way of keeping them in
157 subjection, and in subjection, of course, they were prevented from doing harmÂ” (180). Consider Carolin e and the interaction with her Uncle in this statement, and consid er the relationship between Jane and St. John, and Lucy and Paul. Earlier in the novel, Caroline refers to Shirley as MooreÂ’s Â“fai ry shadow,Â” and Robert says Â“Lina, you haunt me.Â” He professes to see her form in myriad aspects of his life, particularly in nature but also in his abode and mill (254-255). RobertÂ’s dreams of Â“improvi ngÂ” the Hollow and surrounding lands are in keeping with the indust rial strivings of the nineteenth century (644-645). He sees civilizatio n as preferable to wild spaces, and sees progress in the paving over of the landscape. He values the human life over the fairy life. He sees himself as bringing prosperity to the parish through his pouring of the Pactolus waters through Briarfield. Caroline values the wild spaces, as he r fairy spirit would desire; Roberts ideals are grounded in the world of men, not the fey. He also assumes that the women Â– Caroline Shirley, and Miss Ainley Â–would be pleased to run a day school, and plans for them to do so. Helene Moglen takes a negative, cynical view of the marriages in Shirley : Although the heroines find hu sbands, they seem diminished rather than fulfilled by their marriages. ShirleyÂ’s potential is thwarted. CarolineÂ’s questions are silencedÂ…The momentary
158 glimmering of light is extinguished It can only be recaptured in tales told by women to children and to one another. (188-189) This is precisely the point of all th ree of these narratives, a point that Moglen seems to gloss over in her reading of the novelÂ’s ending; these stories are indeed Â“tales told by women to children and to one another,Â” and in the telling and re -telling women are enlightened Â– thus the Â“glimmering of lightÂ” re mains lit, a beacon to women in generations to come.
159 Psychic Space: Crones The Crone archetype represents th e wisdom of lived experience, the wise woman who has gained ma stery over her own life (like the tale told by the Wife of Bath). Lu cy, with her white hair under a white cap, and Jane, having born her children, have both come to this stage. At the end of their journeys to identity, Jane, Caroline, Shirley, and Lucy are women who have reconciled the feminine and masculine aspects of their selves. They have balanced their reason and their passion, and have achieved their journey to wholeness. They now possess the wisdom of the Crone, af ter having experienced the cycle of death and rebirth. In recounting her life narrative in her old age, Lucy achieves self-integration. The evidence is wr itten on her body and the printed page. Her white hair, Â“white under a white cap, like snow beneath snowÂ” (40) is a vestige of wisdom and is inscribed on her body. She inscribes her narrative with a pen on white paper, a masculine and feminine action, respectively, an d a further indication of her integration of masculine and femini ne genders in herself. The paper itself is both text and space, both of which she is consciously constructing/reconfiguring. Robert Colby notes, in speaking of the ending of the novel, Â“Bitterness an d irrational passion give way to
160 understanding and acceptance of th ings as they areÂ” (47). Janice Carlisle, speaking of auto biographies, notes in a comparison to Dickens: Unlike David, who writes his story with Agnes seated next to him, Lucy is another Miss Marchmont, alone with her memories. Yet she recounts the marriage of Paulina Home and Graham Bretton with such calm disinterest one might think that it causes her no pain. How does this situation come abou t? In one sense the answer to this question is very simple. LucyÂ’s writing of her story in the first and second volumes is itself the ac tivity that allows her to triumph over her earlier inability to confront the implications of memoryÂ…As Lucy tells us, if she were a nun, she would have no reason to write her confessions. The act of recording her past must, therefore, provide Lucy wi th the specifically temporal satisfactions that this wo rld has denied her. (267) Lucy achieves an integration of both the masculine and the feminine in her self, through her act of writing her narrative, and she also claims the act of writing for herself, by nature of the way she constructs her narrative. Perhaps part of JaneÂ’s life work is to recognize the Divine Feminine as well as the Divine Mascu line, to come to understand these two sides of spirituality in order to construct her spiritual self. Her first exposures to Christianity come in the form of any teachings she received from Mrs. Reed and her nur ses (Bessie, et al.), any reading
161 she did on her own, and then from Mr. Brocklehurst, and finally from her beloved friends and teachers, Helen Burns, and Miss Temple. She must learn to separate the truth from the egoistic fals e rhetoric offered by those who profess the Christian faith. Indeed, one of the things Jane will learn is that situations an d people are rarely what they seem on the surface. Acknowledging the Freudian read ings of Rochester, Adrienne Rich asks, Â“What kind of marriage is possible for a woman like Jane Eyre? Certainly not marriage with a castrate, psychic or physical. (St. John repels Jane in part because he is emotionally castrated.) The wind that blows through this novel is the wind of sexual equality Â– spiritual and practicalÂ” (154). Rich goes on to note, more generally about marriage in the novel: Marriage is the completion of the life of Jane Eyre, as it is for Miss Temple and Diana and Mary Rivers; but for Jane at least it is a marriage radically understood for its period, in no sense merely a solution or a goal. It is not patriarchal marriage in the sense of a marriage that stunts and diminishes the woman; but a continuation of this womanÂ’ s creation of herself. (155) It is not so unusual, as critics have noted, that Jane goes off into the forest with Rochester and leaves her human family at the home that Jane provides for them. Jane is Â“other Â” Â– she is not of their ilk, even if
162 they are related Â– and so it is natura l that she would prefer to be with her counterpart in otherness, Rochester. Caroline begins her story trapped in the rectory with her Uncle, Mr. Helstone, who cannot offer her love and affection, only paltry advice about learning to make sh irts and gowns and pie-crusts. Her initial rejection by Robert teaches her about the bitter disappointments possible in the realm of romantic love. The narrator illustrates the lesson of the stone and the scorpion wi th chilling instruction: Â“For the whole remnant of your life, if you su rvive the test Â– some, it is said, die under it Â– you will be stronger, wiser, less sensitiveÂ” (105). Caroline becomes trapped in her sorr ow and loss, and is rescued from self-immolation by her long-lost moth er, the wise crone, Mrs. Pryor. The wisdom Caroline absorbs from Mr s. Pryor and from Shirley Keeldar re-invigorate her spirits, and she does indeed survive the aforementioned test. Shirley Keeldar also grows in wisdom and spirit through the course of her story, in that th rough her trials she reconciles the masculine and feminine aspects of her persona, Captain Keeldar and the woman Shirley Keeldar, respective ly. Shirley survives the bite from the mad dog, PhÂœbe, who belongs to Mr. Wynne, one of her spurned suitors, and comes to accept her love for Louis as genuine. It is interesting to note that in each he roineÂ’s case, the crises of identity
163 are wrapped up in each womanÂ’s love for their lovers, in a desire to become one with the object of their affections. Also in all cases, the recovery of their soul sickness is aided by the disco very/reconnection with family (Jane at Moor House, Lu cy at La Terrase, Caroline and Mrs. Pryor, and Shirley and her young cousin, Harry Sympson).
164 Conclusion Tabula Rasa Pertinent to this discussion is John LockeÂ’s notion regarding the minds of newborn children as Ta bulae Rasae, in Book I of An Essay Concerning Human Understanding .xx One may also consider the narrator of Mary ShelleyÂ’s Lodore : Â“He found the lovely girl somewhat ignorant; but white paper to be wr itten on at will, is a favourite metaphor among those men who have described an ideal wife.Â” Jane, Caroline, Shirley, and Lucy, in a se nse, begin their journeys as white paper to be written on, in terms of their virginal bodies, and to an extent their personas are inscribed upon their bodies by culture and society, by external forces. In an endnote commenting on inscription/impression, Karen Lawrence notes: Although the complexity of the re ciprocal process of inscription between Lucy and Paul qualifies the topos of the man writing on the blank page of the woman, Pa ul is the writing master who aggressively tries to leave his im print on Lucy. The rhetoric of textuality applied to LucyÂ’s and PaulÂ’s relationship is at times
165 almost egalitarian, as when he tells her they have similar Â‘impressionsÂ’ (I say Â‘almost,Â’ because it is he who instructs her to read their similar characters in the mirror). On the other hand, Paul often tries to forc e Lucy to be written on or to write his way, even asking her at one point to be his amanuensis. (318) In writing her narrative, then, Lu cy achieves an integration of masculine and feminine aspects of iden tity on multiple levels. In one sense she undertakes a masculine acti on by inscribing her narrative on paper. However, Lucy is female, and so her act of writing her life story takes on another level of meaning. Lu cyÂ’s act of writing is generative work, in that she is not creating a static object, such as a textile, but something that is in flux Â– her cont inuing life story, her history, her narrative. She claims this act of crea tion for herself, and tells her own history in and on her own terms, gi ving and withholding information as she deems fit, selecting certain aspe cts of her life story to emphasize and others to gloss over.xxi In Shirley one may note the image of the woman as tabula rasa, a Â“clear, candid page, wher eon knowledge, should knowledge ever come, might write a golden recordÂ” (487). Louis has made his mark on Shirley through the course of his tutelage; he notes, however, ShirleyÂ’s propensity to leave her own mark: Â“Miss Keeldar, her mark Â– traced on every pageÂ” (490). As note d earlier, Shirley does not write
166 down her peculiar visions, the song which is sung to her (388) but she does make her mark on Caroline, Lo uis, Mr. Helstone, Harry Sympson, and Robert Moore. Caroline is ma rked by Shirley and Mrs. PryorÂ’s tutelage, evinced in such passages as ShirleyÂ’s Titaness visions of the Great Mother (319-321), and Mrs. PryorÂ’s teachings regarding marriage and the plight of governe sses (372-382). Caroline also notes that society Â“forbids utteranceÂ” to those whose grievances cause society uncomfortable pause, effectively silencing the narrative these women have to write (390-393). However, they eventually wrest co ntrol of the pen, and inscribe their own stories, their own identiti es, upon their bodies and upon the page. As Kate Flint points out in Â“Women Writes, WomenÂ’s IssuesÂ” regarding Jane Eyre: For JaneÂ’s marriage, ra ther than constricting her, may, given the first-person narrative fo rm of the novel, be re ad as releasing her Â– releasing her into writing. Thro ughout, Jane Eyre explores the relationship between texts (both ve rbal and visual), interpretation, and autonomy. It suggests that the imaginative sphere is one which allows scope for both re-wri ting, and re-possessing, existent formulations, and for independent endeavor. (182) JaneÂ’s marriage does appear to confirm her independence conjoined with her happiness; she has not pu rchased love at the price of
167 confinement, as she would have if she had joined with Rochester at Thornfield as his mistress. Jane has also not sold her soul for soulless marriage to St. John, a move that would have surely silenced her narrative. As she states in the close of her narrative, Â“Reader, I married him,Â” an active statemen t that confirms her independent choice in the matter (452). In reflecting upon Kate F lintÂ’s previous commentary on Jane Eyre one may note that CarolineÂ’s marriage releases her from the Â“windowed graveÂ” of the Rectory ( 399), and she moves from a life of living death, entombed in the Rector y to an evidently robust life with Robert Moore at the Mill, comple te with a space for her beloved Mother, Mrs. Pryor. Robert Moore no tes in the course of his marriage proposal to Caroline, when she asks him if he will do good with his money, Â“I will do good; you shall tell me how; indeed, I have some schemes of my own, which you and I will talk about on our own hearth somedayÂ” (643). Robert here invite s CarolineÂ’s input, her inscription, and her direction of his business in tentions as a married couple. In speaking of Lucy Snowe an d her autobiographical account, Janice Carlisle states Â“Lucy consistently sees herself as one of the vanquished. But if some victors are born, LucyÂ’s narrative proves that others can be madeÂ” (284). Continui ng her discussion of Lucy Snowe, Carlisle states further on:
168 In her hands, the already highly developed conventions of autobiography reach a new level of complexity and subtlety. Both character and creator constr uct a narrative mirror in which self appears vindicated against the slights experience has dealt them and consoled for the indiffe rences with which others have treated them. (284-285) The paper itself is both text and space, both of which Lucy is consciously constructing/reconfiguring At the end of her tale, Lucy is both masculine and feminine, writ er and text. Through writing her narrative, Lucy gains the psychic wh oleness of gender integration. Kathryn R. King, in her articl e Â“Of Needles and WomenÂ’s Work,Â” focuses on the non-anxiou s delight women writers took in writing, with actual and figurative pens, in pre-Victorian times. She is in opposition to Gilbert and GubarÂ’s assertions about women and the anxiety of authorship. Â“After all, if the pen is a metaphorical penis, it is a conveniently detachable one that can be taken in hand and discharged with equal facility by either gender Â” (78). Carol T. Christ comments on the strengths and weaknesses of Ch arlotte BrontÂ’s approach to womenÂ’s fictions: Virginia Woolf has written that the woman writer must kill the angel in the house Â– the socially ordained ideal of feminine selflessness Â– in order to ac hieve the imaginative freedom
169 necessary for the best writing. Her essay reminds us that sexual and imaginative freedom are closely related, that constraints on one are felt as constraints on th e other. Charlotte Bront never totally killed the angelÂ…The resu lting conflict between her drive for imaginative expression and her conviction of the necessity of imaginative containment conseque ntly gave her art both its limitations and its strengths. (67) None of the heroines discussed in this dissertation is a born victor, per Janice CarliseÂ’s previous comments (even Shirley, who begins with money and station but lacks an outlet for her desire to love and be loved), but all are made such by virt ue of their narratives. The self is vindicated, to greater or lesser de grees, in Caroline, Shirley, Jane Eyre, and Lucy Snowe. John Kucich posits a point of view contrary to Carol Christ in his essay: Recently, writers as different id eologically as Michel Foucault, Carl Degler, and Nina Auerbach have argued that forms of Victorian self-control play a mo re positive, empowering role within subjectivity than we ha ve come to thinkÂ…For Foucault, Victorian repression becomes an injunction to discover and articulate bodily desire as an in finitely Â‘deepÂ’ fund of subjective power: Â“Let us not isolate the restrictions, reticences, evasions or silences which [Victorian sexuality] may have manifested, in
170 order to refer them to some constitutive taboo, psychical repression, or death instinct What was formed wasÂ…an affirmation of self.Â” (68-69) As Â“affirmations of selfÂ” these texts are mimetic, in that they become representations of life in art, fant astic elements aside. They represent the prevailing attitudes toward wome n in Victorian culture, and the Â“heretic narrativesÂ” within confront such attitudes. Charlotte Bront may not have Â“totally killed the angel, Â” in Carol ChristÂ’s and Virginia WoolfÂ’s commentaries, but she has certainly set forth viable alternatives to that particular gendered construction of women. The texts also show (develop) alternat ive modes for women in Victorian and contemporary culture, a reflection of the notion that for women, the narrative space must exist before the physical space.
171 Endnotes i Nina Auerbach, Communities of Women: An Idea in Fiction and Woman and the Demon: The Life of a Victorian Myth addresses patriarchal enclosure of women in cultural roles, as does Martha VicinusÂ’ introduction to the text Suffer and be Still and Lynne AgressÂ’ The Feminine Irony: Women on Women in Early Nineteenth Century English Literature Agress notes not only the patriarchal enclosure of women but also how nineteenth-c entury women writers perpetrate such enclosures in their writing. ii Sandra R. Gilbert and Susan Gubar, 1979. iii This three-stage pattern is di scussed by Carol Flinders in At the Root of This Longing to frame a kinaalda cere mony, which is a Navajo menarche ceremony. Flinders referenc es the two critics who originate the formula for this pattern, Bruce Lincoln, Emerging From the Chrysalis (1981) and Virginia Beane Rutter, Woman Changing Woman (1993).
172 iv The view of wives as their husbandÂ’s spiritual keepers, if not moral betters, is reiterated in such period texts as Coventry PatmoreÂ’s poem, The Angel in the House, John RuskinÂ’s Of QueenÂ’s Gardens, and Alfred Lord TennysonÂ’s The Princess (VII). These texts comment on womenÂ’s power in marriage. v Starhawk. Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex and Politics Boston: Beacon Press, 1997. 3-4. vi On women writers educating wo men, see Sandra Gilbert and Susan GubarÂ’s Madwoman ch. 2, 72-73. Also, see Elaine ShowalterÂ’s A Literature of Their Own: Britis h Women Novelists from Bront to Lessing ch. 1 The Female Tradition vii In the chapter Â“The QueenÂ’s Looking Glass,Â” Sandra Gilbert and Susan Gubar note Â“women themse lves have the power to create themselves as characters, even perh aps the power to reach toward the woman trapped on the other side of the mirror/text and help her to climb outÂ” (16). viii See Chapter 13 in Jane Eyre regarding Â“the men in greenÂ” (125).
173 ix The footnote on p.663 of the Ox ford World Classics edition of Shirley clarifies the use of Shirley as a masculine name. According to the note, Â“ The Oxford Dictionary of Christian Names cites this novel as the occasion of the earliest use of Â‘Sh irleyÂ’ as a first name; hitherto it had only been used as a surname.Â” x Of ShirleyÂ’s gender constructi on, Helene Moglen notes: To express the unique self molded by he r rare good fortune, to have it perceived and responded to, Shirley must Â‘playÂ’ the conventional male: fragmenting her identity, denying he rself. Experience has taught her that gender negates social and econ omic position. Therefore, she must try to be Â‘something moreÂ’ than a woman. (176) xi In Chapter 1, Â“PowerÂ–Over and Power from WithinÂ”, in StarhawkÂ’s Dreaming the Dark: Magic, Sex and Politics (1982). xii Translations of French words quot ed in this text are my own.
174 xiii In her Introduction to Part 1 of Victorian Women A Documentary Account of WomenÂ’s Lives in Nineteenth-Century England, France and the United States (Hellerstein et. al.), titled Â“The Girl,Â” associate editor Barbara Ch arlesworth Gelpi discusses the issue of personal significance for Victor ian women. She notes that personal significance is linked to the cu ltural changes which marked the Victorian era, and furthermore, women of this period struggle with reconciling relational and personal selves (8). GelpiÂ’s concept of relational/personal selves is evolve s from Mary DouglasÂ’ theories of positional and personal families, as noted in her text Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology (1973).
175 xiv In her essay titled Â“Desire and Fear: Female Abjection in the Gothic Fiction of Mary Wollstonecraft,Â” from her book From Wollstonecraft to Stoker: Essays on Gothic and Victorian sensation fiction Marilyn Brock notes, Â“The Goth ic is an important genre for representing female experience and Romantic-era author Mary Wollstonecraft uses it to depict fema le subjugation in late eighteenth century cultureÂ” (17). Brock goes on to note, Â“WollstonecraftÂ’s version of Gothic narrative in her unfinished novel Maria (1798) depicts womenÂ’s social marginalization and ex ile to a realm of abjection in its depiction of its heroineÂ’s subjugated female bodyÂ” (19). Though Brock is discussing WollstonecraftÂ’s Maria and not Samuel RichardsonÂ’s Pamela the point regarding the feminine experience and female subjugation as part of the Gothic novelÂ’s conventions applies to the story of Pamela, as Pamela is cont inuously imprisoned, restrained, and her narratives are repeatedly silenced. While Pamela may be technically considered a novel of the sentimental genre, preceeding the Gothic novel per se, it seems fair to say that it contains elements of the Gothic. xv See Nina Auerbach Woman and the Demon and also consider the biblical images of Eve and Lilith.
176 xvi Perhaps LucyÂ’s construction of self as mermaid has a connection to her rebirth into wisdom According to Barbara G. Walker, in her text The WomanÂ’s Dictionary of Symbols and Sacred Objects the mermaid was known in books on alchemy in the Medieval period as Â“The Siren of the Philosophers, crowned and lactating the milk of the enlightenment.Â” The mermaid imag e may also signal her return to her Bretton/Britannic roots, as also according to Walker, Â“As late as the 19th century, British law claimed th at all mermaids found within the home waters would be the property of the CrownÂ” (263). xvii Barbara HannahÂ’s text, Striving Towards Wholeness is a study of individuation in the Bront sÂ’ novels, as well as Robert Louis Stevenson and Mary Webb. Hannah a ddresses Charlotte BrontÂ’s life and selected works from a Jungian perspective in chapter six of the aforementioned text. xviii Ests, Clarissa Pinkola. Women Who Run With the Wolves 377. xix Starhawk, Dreaming the Dark Chapter One, Â“Power-Over and Power-From-Within.Â” xx Locke, John An Essay Concerning Human Understanding Ed. Kenneth P. Winkler. Indianapolis, Indiana: 1996 33-36.
177 xxi Lucy tells her story in her own terms via her narrative style and linguistic choices. She also tells the story on her terms, as the story is written through, and on, her body and psyche.
178 Works Cited Adams, Maurianne. Â“ Jane Eyre : WomanÂ’s Estate.Â” Critical Essays on Charlotte Bront Ed. Barbara Timm Gates. Boston, Massachusetts: G. K. Hall and Co., 1990. 181-198. Agress, Lynne. The Feminine Irony: Women on Women in Early Nineteenth-Century English Lite rature. Cranbury, New Jersey: Associated University Presses, 1978. Auerbach, Nina. Woman and the Demon: The Life of the Victorian Myth Cambridge, Massachuse tts: Harvard UP, 1982. ---. Communities of Women: An Idea in Fiction Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard UP, 1978. Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space Trans. Maria Jolas. Foreword Etienne Gilson. Boston: Beacon Press, 1969. Barker, Juliet. The Bronts New York: St. MartinÂ’s, 1994 Blackburn, Ruth H. The Bronte Sist ers: Selected Source Materials for College Research Papers. Boston: D.C. Heath and Co., 1964. 67. Bloom, Harold. Ed. Charlotte BrontÂ’s Jane Eyre Modern Critical Interpretations. New York: Chelsea House, 1987.
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About the Author Michelle Dawn Lattanzio graduated from MCC in 1993, and the University of South Florida with he r B.A., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in 1995, 1999, and 2010, respectively. She taught a variety of classes at USF from 1996-2003 for English depa rtment, including composition, drama, and world literature. She also taught interdisciplinary composition and literature in collabora tive efforts with the Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies departme nts of USF as the Writing Across the Curriculum Instructor for Le arning Community 13 from 2000-2002. From 1999-2004, she was the Debartol o Assistant to Dr. Pat Rogers, aiding in the publication of severa l texts. She is a member of the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts, as well as the Golden Key, Sigma Tau Delta, and Alpha Chi honors societies. Her interests include creating mixedmedia art, working with animal welfare organizations, and spending time with her bipedal and quadruped friends and family in Florida and Illinois.