The Stone and the Scorpion: The Female Subject of Desire in the Novels of Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy

By Judith Mitchell | Go to book overview

tant in this regard, and "action" will need to be broadly interpreted. Given the parallels I have noted between the other representational arts and literature, my study (and literary criticism generally) can undoubtedly benefit from the theory and discoveries of these extra-literary areas. Film criticism, in particular, has made a concerted effort to locate a female subject of desire within the realist genre, with interesting results. As feminist readers of realist novels, we should share the film critics' suspicion of both representation and narrative. The latter is especially important in any critique of ideology, as narrative "becomes suspect in a feminist critique due to its construction of an exclusive world view, an illusory realm complete with closure and invisible seams. The feeling of wholeness and authenticity makes it all the more difficult to detect ideological exclusions or inclusions" ( Gentile81-82). The "feeling of wholeness and authenticity" which makes the reading of Victorian novels so pleasurable is to be queried at all times. We are to become resisting readers, as the overt message of a novel may be quite different from its unstated (and therefore more powerful) ideological assumptions. Even professed feminist novels may thus be deeply--perhaps unwittingly--conformist; Hardy Tess of the d'Urbervilles is a good example of this, as I shall show. And the formation and perpetuation of ideology that takes place in novels, the stories that culture tells itself about itself, are immensely important to human reality, as Flaubert's Emma Bovary bore striking witness in 1857. If erotic relationships are ever to change (and our world along with them), they will only do so within ideology, as new ways of being are envisioned.

The re-reading of the realist novel, the refusal to be beguiled by its symbiotic dream of erotic wholeness within a sexual hierarchy, is a small but important part of such a task. The goal of mutual subjectivity has not yet been attained even in the twentieth century; but any attempts by nineteenth-century novelists to create at least the possibility of a female subject of desire mark progress toward this goal. In my re-readings of Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot and Thomas Hardy, therefore, I shall not hope to encounter a fully fledged female subjectivity. Rather, I shall attempt to trace the movements, however slight, toward a seeing, speaking, desiring female subject within the work of these novelists and within the century.


NOTES
1.
Readers already familiar with feminist criticism in these areas may wish to turn to Chapter 2, bearing in mind that my definition of female subjectivity includes active participation in the look, the language and the enactment of desire.
2.
George Moore Esther Waters and A Drama in Muslin and George Meredith's The Egoist, for example, seem to me to be as disruptive of patriarchal norms as many female-authored texts of the century. This is not to deny the force of the distinction between women's writing and male writing which informs much superb feminist criticism ( Gilbert and Gubar's or Nancy Miller's, for instance).

-26-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
The Stone and the Scorpion: The Female Subject of Desire in the Novels of Charlotte Brontë, George Eliot, and Thomas Hardy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in Women's Studies ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Copyright Acknowledgments v
  • Contents ix
  • 1 - Introduction: The Erotic Subject 1
  • Notes 26
  • 2 - Charlotte Bronte 29
  • Notes 82
  • 3 - George Eliot 85
  • Notes 153
  • 4 - Thomas Hardy 155
  • Notes 207
  • 5 - Conclusion 209
  • Works Cited 213
  • Index 221
  • About the Author 229
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 232

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.