Unravelling the Body/Mind Reverberations of Secrets Woven into Charlotte Brontë’s Villette

Francisco José Cortés Vieco

Unravelling the Body/Mind Reverberations of Secrets Woven into Charlotte Brontë’s Villette

Číslo: 1/2015
Periodikum: Prague Journal of English Studies

Klíčová slova: Body; mind; woman; trauma; sequelae; anorexia; suicide; recovery

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Anotace: Francisco José Cortés Vieco The pervasive psychological realism of Charlotte Brontë’s Villette (1853) challenges

scholarly assumptions based on her biography or her indoctrination to Victorian
medical discourses, as it explores dysfunctional body/mind interrelations, particularly
those evidencing patriarchal pressures and prejudices against women. Under the guise
of her heroine Lucy, the author becomes both the physician and the patient suffering
from a female malady of unnamed origin. This article intends to prove that, instead of
narratively unravelling her creature’s past trauma with healing purposes, the author
conceals its nature to protect her intimacy and she focuses on the periphery of her
crisis aftermath to demonstrate its severity by means of the psychosomatic disorders
that persistently haunt her life: depression, anorexia nervosa and suicidal behavior.
Brontë’s literary guerrilla of secrecy aims, simultaneously, to veil and unveil the core
of Lucy’s clinical case with an unequivocal diagnosis: a harmful, mysterious event
from her childhood/adolescence, whose reverberations repeatedly erupt during her
adulthood and endanger her survival. Unreliable but “lucid”, this heroine becomes
the daguerreotype of her creator to portray life as a sad, exhausting journey, where
professional self-realisation – not love or marriage – turns into the ultimate recovery
therapy from past ordeals, never successfully confirmed in the case of Lucy, who
epitomises a paradigm of femininity in Victorian England: the impoverished, solitary,