Identity is in the Eye of the Beholder: Examining the Function of the Gaze in Charlotte Bronte's The Professor and Jane Eyre

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Title: Identity is in the Eye of the Beholder: Examining the Function of the Gaze in Charlotte Bronte's The Professor and Jane Eyre
Author: Whittington, Elizabeth Michelle
Advisors: Dr. Sharon Setzer, Committee Member
Dr. Patricia Lynne, Committee Member
Dr. Leila May, Committee Chair
Abstract: In this thesis, I use G.W.F. Hegel's notions of self-consciousness and self-awareness to examine the function of the gaze in two of Charlotte Brontë's early novels, The Professor and Jane Eyre. The first chapter of the thesis discusses William Crimsworth's intimate relationship with two women, Mademoiselle Zoraide Reuter and Frances Evans Henri. The first relationship with Mademoiselle Reuter does not result in a balance of power, but is essential in understanding his relationship with Frances, which does ultimately result in a balance of power. The second chapter of the thesis discusses the relationship of Fairfax Rochester and Jane Eyre. While this relationship is fraught with a great deal of complexity, I argue that ultimately Jane and Rochester achieve a balance of power in the gaze. Through the discussion of the lover's gaze in each of these novels, I demonstrate that, contrary to Jean--Paul Sartre's influential but very negative rendering of the power dynamics implicit in the gaze, in Brontë's works we see an affirmative, mutual reinforcing exchange in the lover's gaze.
Date: 2004-08-22
Degree: MA
Discipline: English
URI: http://www.lib.ncsu.edu/resolver/1840.16/1269


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