The Female Narrator in the British Novel: Hidden Agendas by L. Sternlieb

By L. Sternlieb

The feminine Narrator within the British Novel experiences first-person narratives and demonstrates that how a lady tells her tale is important to our figuring out of its content material, for a novel's mode of narration usually undermines its ostensible plot. reading relationships among the sexes when it comes to battles for narrative authority, Sternlieb argues for a rethinking of the historical past of the wedding plot.

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The silent cat spends the night listening for “a snarling, snatching sound, almost like a dog quarrelling” (p. 262) and later hears “a momentary renewal of the snarling, canine noise”(p. 264). A docile carrier pigeon, Jane “flew thither and back” (p. 268) from Mason’s to Rochester’s room while she likens “Grace” to “a carrion-seeking bird of prey” (p. 264). Rochester himself calls Jane his “pet lamb” whom he has left “near a wolf’s den” (p. 271). Jane’s description of herself in this scene is a textbook example of a virtuous Victorian woman – silent, obedient, content to know nothing.

After their engagement, Jane admits that she “would much rather have all [his] confidence” than his fortune, and Rochester responds: “you are welcome to all my confidence that is worth having” (p. 186). The night before their wedding Rochester urges Jane: “give me your confidence … relieve your mind of any weight that oppresses it, by imparting it to me” (p. 353). Yet he deliberately misinterprets the stories she will tell him about Bertha. ” (p. 374). Disguised as the gypsy, Rochester has admitted that it is in 20 The Female Narrator in the British Novel fact Grace Poole, not Jane, who is “close and quiet: any one may repose confidence in her” (p.

13 Is Nelly’s story then a defense of the vicarious life, of a life lived on the safe margins of experience, or a bitter acknowledgment that being a stand-in is not the same as being the real thing? To answer this question I believe that we need to return to a distinction between plot and narration, character and narrator. I will be reading the plot of Wuthering Heights not as the story of a man motivated by his passions to destroy lives and take over two houses, but as the tale of one woman who actively works against the romantic impulses of everyone around her, who tries in one form or another to prevent unions between Catherine and Heathcliff, Heathcliff and Isabella, Edgar and Catherine, and Cathy and Linton.

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