By Heather Glen
This stimulating research considers how Charlotte Bront?'s writings interact with an entire variety of matters of their time. via a chain of latest readings of ostensibly famous texts, Heather Glen unearths a Charlotte Bront? extra alert to her old second and much extra aesthetically refined than she has often been taken to be.
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Or rather, not I, but one Jane Rochester, a person whom as yet I knew not. The cards of address alone remained to nail on: they lay, four little squares, on the drawer. Mr Rochester had himself written the direction, 'Mrs Rochester, — Hotel, London,' on each: I could not persuade myself to affix them, or to have then affixed. Mrs Rochester! ; and I would wait to be assured she had come into the world alive before I assigned to her all that property. It was enough that in yonder closet, opposite my dressing table, garments said to be hers had already displaced my black stuff Lowood frock and straw bonnet: for not to me appertained that suit of wedding raiment; the pearl-coloured robe, the vapoury veil pendent from the usurped portmanteau.
On the whole a most pleasant face to look at,' she decides; yet the observation is followed with a more disquieting hint of the aspect this image might present to one with no 'right' to this youth's 'affection', for whom its 'charm' might be a more dangerous thing. ' But the oddity of that 'almost' and of the final phrase bring to the fore the fear that lurks within this fascination: this image can be 'loved' safely only as it is contained, like a wild animal in a cage. This is no controlling Genius, or figure of public authority, but the conventional enough object of a barely admitted 'love'.
Yet if that portrait of herself from Lord Charles Wellesley's perspective— 'hundreds of feet high—standing against the great Oriel', and filling her hero with 'astonishment'—would to them have been comically entrancing, within his firstperson narrative it is more unnerving than this. 39 Here, what had started as a childish 'play'—the contemplation of the Genii by their creatures—seems to have enabled the young author to objectify and explore that which is inscribed but not confronted in her 'History': a sense of self not as autonomous and free, but as dependent and determined, not as omnipotent, but as potentially not existing at all.