Version classiqueVersion mobile
OpenEdition Books

L'engagement dans les romans féminins de la Grande-Bretagne des xviiie et xixe siècles

Thierry Goater
Élise Ouvrard

Quatrième partie. L'écriture féminine comme engagement

Jane Eyre: a portrait of the artist as a young woman

Stéphanie Bernard


Le roman de Charlotte Brontë donne à voir la transformation de Jane, simple gouvernante dans l’Angleterre du XIXe siècle, en une figure de l’artiste. Confrontée à la trahison de Rochester et à la menace de la folie représentée par Bertha, la femme folle, Jane opte pour une autre voie. Choisissant de vivre à l’écart de la société victorienne, elle parvient à devenir elle-même et, par-là, à faire entendre une voix féminine. Ce n’est pas le féminisme qui se dit, mais la féminité qui s’écrit dans un texte empreint de poésie et d’étrangeté.

Texte intégral

  • 1 Woolf V., The Common Reader, First Series, “‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’” [1925], London, T (...)
  • 2 Ibid., p. 199.

1“The drawbacks of being Jane Eyre are not far to seek. Always to be a governess and always to be in love is a serious limitation in a world which is full, after all, of people who are neither one nor the other1.” Such are the words Virginia Woolf chose to depict the protagonist in the novel written in 1847 by Charlotte Brontë. She added that the author herself was a representative of the “self-centred and self-limited writers2”. This single-mindedness could account for the novel sometimes losing its grasp on the world around and highlighting the author’s bent for poetry.

2In the writing, artistic vision replaces reality. In the narrative, the heroine’s gaze encapsulates all that there is to see and learn for the reader. The latter is invited to witness the awakening of a girl, then young woman, whose strength and singularity at times shatter—and often question—Victorian conventions because these lay outside the halo of her mind and personality. Although humble and well-mannered, she has such a sense of her own existence that the whole world is shaped and transformed by her vision of life.

3Yet, in spite of the author’s self-mindedness and of the heroine’s self-centredness, the novel definitely draws the reader’s attention toward society at large. The sympathy aroused by Jane triggers a questioning of the condition of woman at the time. The heroine’s inwardness appears as a firm stance taken against the patriarchal order and as a defence of her right to freedom and choice. Her secret, inner self that she slowly unfolds to the reader alone constitutes her engagement as a free woman in the Victorian era.

4In this essay, we will focus on the aspects of the novel that show how Jane’s individuality and singularity enable her to resist forces that would confine her to her role as a plain governess in mid-nineteenth century England, or conversely lead her to madness: the sad tale of the poor orphan girl eventually gives way to the committed narrative of a woman fighting for independence. In other words, we hope to suggest how “[t]he drawbacks of being Jane Eyre” are soon overcome by the beauty of her tale and the power of her creative mind.

The ungraspable narrative

5How to define Jane Eyre? The temptation for narrative classification tends to be thwarted when one tries to apply it to the novel. Its generic characteristics, however striking, are invariably contradictory. For the text is continually both flirting with and subverting the conventions of Victorian fiction. Adrienne Rich tackles the question in the following terms:

  • 3 Rich A., “Jane Eyre: The Temptations of a Motherless Woman”, in Brontë C., Jane Eyre [1847], New Y (...)

Jane Eyre is not a novel in the Tolstoyan, the Flaubertian, even the Hardyesque sense. Jane Eyre is a tale.
The concern of the tale is not with social mores, though social mores may occur among the risks and challenges encountered by the protagonist. Neither is it an anatomy of the psyche, the fated chemistry of cosmic forces. It takes its place between the two: between realism and poetry. […]
I would suggest further, that Charlotte Brontë is writing—not a Bildungsroman—but the life story of a woman who is incapable of saying I am Heathcliff (as the heroine of Emily Brontë’s novel does) because she feels so unalterably herself3.

  • 4 Cf. Martin R. B., Charlotte Bronte’s Novels: The Accents of Persuasion, New York, Norton, 1966, p. (...)

6Thus, in spite of a number of clues, Jane Eyre is not a Bildungsroman. It is not centred on the building of a moral or social individual, but rather presents us with a tale about the coming to life of a soul. The references to foreign countries and far-off islands are numerous. Yet we are far from a novel of adventure since the action is limited to few places whose symbolic functions have been largely discussed4 and which correspond to the five stages of Jane’s progress. Similarly, the religious undertones, through a significant and enduring influence on the protagonist’s choices and evolution, are not sufficient to define the tale.

7What makes the book so peculiar and so enticing is the exclusive vision of the world it renders:

  • 5 Bernard S., “The Never-Ending Story”, Borie C. & Ouvrard E. (eds), “Jane Eyre: text, context, ur-t (...)

All the elements that make up Jane Eyre are relevant to—and only to—the narrator’s life. Every detail in the novel is conveyed by the heroine, every description depends on her perception, and every action is related in her own words. […] The world of the novel is entirely Jane’s5.

8So that despite several strange, at times frightening ingredients, it is not a Gothic tale for the Gothic has been tamed by the narrator’s beguiling voice and gaze:

  • 6 Talairach-Vielmas L., “Legacies of the Past: The Buried Stories of Thornfield Hall”, Bury L. & Sip (...)

Far from the novels of Ann Radcliffe, with their female characters left to starve and die locked up in a turret or passively awaiting their saviors, mad with anxiety, Brontë’s fiction proposes an alternative way of phrasing her perception of the horrors of domesticity within the world of Victorian England6.

9Jane is alarmed by the idealised vision Rochester entertains of her as much as by the strange sounds and signs she perceives in Thornfield Hall. She indeed feels bewildered the day after Bertha visited her at night and tore the wedding veil in two, as she ignores the existence of the first wife and fails to get an explanation for these strange events. Nevertheless she lets herself be led by Rochester to the altar for the wedding. On the other hand, she threatens to resist his love when he starts giving her names she feels she does not deserve; she uses strong terms to reject him when he tells her about his desire to cover her with jewels and fine clothes:

  • 7 Brontë C., Jane Eyre [1847], New York and London, Norton, 2001.

And then you won’t know me, sir; and I shall not be your Jane Eyre any longer, but an ape in a harlequin’s jacket,—a jay in borrowed plumes. I would as soon see you, Mr. Rochester, tricked out in stage-trappings, as myself clad in a court-lady’s robe; and I don’t call you handsome, sir, though I love you most dearly: far too dearly to flatter you. Don’t flatter me. (221)7

10Contrasting with such a determined, almost militant, discourse, the Gothic elements have in fact a more subtle purpose than that of frightening the reader. They rather point to a story of revelation and concealment.

11Early on in the narrative, in the Gateshead section, what the narrator calls “the secret of the red-room” (11)—in relation to the death of Mr. Reed there—initiates a long series of lies and dissimulation, such as Mrs Reed’s not telling Jane about her rich, expatriate uncle’s desire to adopt her for example (203). Later on, the secrets kept by Rochester echo the mystery of Jane’s parentage: the unveiling of Bertha’s existence and story precedes the heroine’s discovery about her family ties with the Rivers and her inheritance.

12Jane herself nurtures secrecy. As the story unfolds, she is characterized by her longing for intimacy and solitude as a rampart against the violence of the world around. Right from the start of the novel, we get a vision of Jane hiding away from her cousins in a window-seat in a small drawing-room, “shrined in double retirement” (5). The end of the novel partakes of the same desire for privacy. The final words voiced by St John Rivers screen off Jane’s domestic reality in Ferndean: a masculine voice covers the heroine’s. The reader is no longer allowed to catch any glimpse of her. The conclusion of her tale sounds thus: “My Edward and I, then, are happy” (385). In the last lines of the novel, her voice slowly fades away as she evokes the lives of other characters till it completely vanishes behind the missionary’s invocatory words. Just as the text eludes generic classification, just as Jane the character hides repeatedly from gaze, so Jane the narrator eventually escapes her own narrative, letting the text tell itself until it dies away.

Hide and seek

13Jane’s being “under obligations to Mrs. Reed” and her having “to be humble” (10) in Gateshead, her being treated as “a liar” (56) in Lowood, her status as “a Governess, disconnected, poor, and plain” (137) in Thornfield, all strengthen her fear of the external—social—truth and encourage her to rely on her own, interior truth. Her outward aspect does not help her to integrate the outside world: “Yes,” responded Abbot, “if she were a nice, pretty child, one might compassionate her forlornness; but one really cannot care for such a little toad as that.” (21)

14The episode of the house party in Thornfield illustrates how Jane evolves in a world apart. While Rochester is busy entertaining aristocratic gentlemen and elegant ladies, she keeps at a distance. The young girl whom she looks after, Adèle, is very much attracted to the pretty ladies she catches a glimpse of, whereas Jane does her best to remain unseen. Adèle’s longing to see the party and take part in it contrasts with the heroine’s discretion as she is satisfied with listening to the sounds of the gathering (143). But Rochester soon requests them to join the party in the drawing-room. The preparation for this moment emphasizes again the protagonist’s wish not to be noticed, in contrast with the young girl’s enthusiasm for social life:

Adèle had been in a state of ecstasy all day […]; and by the time she had her curls arranged in well-smoothed, drooping clusters, her pink satin frock put on, her long sash tied, and her lace mittens adjusted, she looked as grave as any judge. No need to warn her not to disarrange her attire: when she was dressed, she sat demurely down in her little chair, taking care previously to lift up the satin skirt for fear she should crease it, and assured me she would not stir thence till I was ready. This I quickly was; my best dress (the silvergrey one, purchased for Miss Temple’s wedding, and never worn since) was soon put on; my hair was smoothed; my sole ornament, the pearl brooch, soon assumed. (144-145)

15The pale colours and the plain stuff Jane chooses for her dress differ from the pink satin of the little girl’s frock. Similarly, the long and complex sentences that describe Adèle’s behaviour and appearance highlight Jane’s endeavour to underrate rather than enhance her person.

16Jane’s choice of a garment echoes her attempt to be present at the party—in order to abide by Rochester’s desire—but invisible – so as to be true to her own code of conduct. While the revelry is going on in the dining-room, Jane discreetly goes into the drawing-room, a curtain dividing the two areas. She takes a seat near a window and attempts to read as if to underline how exterior she is to the party. But her isolation is soon disrupted by Adèle and the approaching guests. The scene that follows is thus filtered through Jane’s gaze whose function here is first and foremost that of the narrator, for she can focus her attention on other characters. She is a silent observer who can accurately depict Blanche “moulded like a Dian” (146), or “the gallant grace of the Lynns, the languid elegance of Lord Ingram,—even the military distinction of Colonel Dent” (149).

17Her outward passivity belies an inner turmoil which she avows to the reader alone. She is becoming aware of her tender feelings for her master and is convinced of the inadequacy of her position: “I know I must conceal my sentiments; I must smother hope; I must remember that he cannot care much for me. […] and yet, while I breathe and think I must love him” (149). So that Jane has no choice but dissimulation again. Yet, in spite of her wish to remain unnoticed to avoid being humiliated by the people gathered at Thornfield, she becomes an object of gaze in her turn. She has to bear the deprecating remarks of Blanche Ingram who, talking about governesses, judges “half of them detestable and the rest ridiculous” (150). The situation is all the more insulting and hurtful as it duplicates the shameful scene that took place earlier on in Lowood when she had to stand on a stool and be exposed to the other girls’ gazes (57).

18Jane’s desire to remain unseen, therefore, is not a fully free choice at that stage. It is rather a way for her to escape humiliation and suffering by keeping away from the outer world, as well as a convenient means for the author to use her as a narrator-focaliser. Only at the end of the novel is concealment presented as an unequivocally, freely chosen lifestyle: as a sign of commitment. Indeed, after hearing Rochester’s preternatural call, Jane decides to go to him. On her way she stops at an inn where she learns about Bertha’s death and the fire at Thornfield. She does not reveal her identity, so that the innkeeper speaks out to her unreservedly. That way she can hear all about her own story with Rochester (363). Anonymity allows for revelation. Similarly, on arriving to Ferndean she lets Rochester overcome his bewilderment until he recognizes her. Both the screen formed by “the gloomy wood” (366) around Ferndean and the veiled vision of Rochester’s burnt eyes allow for the unveiling of the two protagonists’ feelings.

19Most of the time though, the distinction between moments when confinement is forced upon her (as in the red-room episode) and when it is her own deliberate choice, is blurred. Her long stay at Lowood, her efforts to avoid the guests at Thornfield, her flight from the manor leading to her prolonged illness at Moor House are invariably the result of Jane’s conscious desire to remain isolated from the world as much as a consequence of the absence of a real place for her in society. So that her situation echoes the predicament of her dark double: Bertha. “The maniac”, “the lunatic” (250), is locked away because she is deemed dangerous; but her seclusion is also the only way for her to evade the gaze of the other and escape patriarchal domination—be it male, English or white domination as suggested by Jean Rhys in Wide Sargasso Sea.

20What is at stake here amounts to the status of woman in nineteenth-century England. Several models are presented: the aristocratic Blanche Ingram, the learned and distinguished Miss Temple, the decadent Grace Poole, the mad Bertha… The unclassifiable Jane Eyre has to find a place in the labyrinth. Obviously, the question of marriage is recurrent as it constituted the one way out for most women in that period. But more crucial than that even is the looming danger of madness as an answer to woman’s irrational and unconventional longing for independence. It destroys Bertha. It could represent a major menace for Jane too.

A sense of oneself

21Here is what Thomas Hardy wrote in a short contribution to a symposium on the theme of marriage:

  • 8 Hardy T., Life and Art, New York, Haskell House, 1966, p. 119.

As your problems are given on the old lines so I take them, without entering into the general question whether marriage, as we at present understand it, is such a desirable goal for women as it is assumed to be; or whether civilisation can escape the humiliating indictment that, while it has been able to cover itself with glory in the arts, in literatures, in religions, and in the sciences, it has never succeeded in creating that homely thing, a satisfactory scheme for the conjunction of the sexes8.

  • 9 Rich A., op. cit., p. 483.

22Hardy’s comment is coherent with the tragically audacious story presented in Jude the Obscure for instance. With Charlotte Brontë, the debate is not launched in such strong terms. The feminism of the discourse in Jane Eyre is in fact tempered by the intensity of Jane’s inner life and by the inwardness of her motives. As she stands in between social spheres, she does not have to denounce the patriarchal order outspokenly. Her craving for independence is answered to by her providential inheritance. The true commitment of the protagonist, therefore, consists in the “creation of herself9”.

23Throughout the text the reader is given the opportunity to witness Jane’s coming-to-life as an artist. While she refuses “to confine [herself] to making puddings and knitting stockings, to playing the piano or embroidering bags” (93), several scenes present her painting, carving or writing. The thread she weaves enables her to embroider her life through words and arts. The fire that burns in her illuminates every step she takes, so that her itinerary delineates a portrait of the artist as a young woman. She herself avows her creative bent and her attachment to the world of imagination:

Who blames me? Many, no doubt; and I shall be called discontented. I could not help it: the restlessness was in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes. Then my sole relief was to walk along the corridor of the third story, backwards and forwards, safe in the silence and solitude of the spot, and allow my mind's eye to dwell on whatever bright visions rose before it—and, certainly, they were many and glowing; to let my heart be heaved by the exultant movement, which, while it swelled it in trouble, expanded it with life; and, best of all, to open my inward ear to a tale that was never ended—a tale my imagination created, and narrated continuously; quickened with all of incident, life, fire, feeling, that I desired and had not in my actual existence. (93)

  • 10 Ibid., p. 475.

24The passage has been called a feminist manifesto10. Yet what matters for Jane seems to lie on a different level: the last elements mentioned show to what extent Jane the narrator is the creator of her own story. The tale she tells is extremely close to the one she imagined while walking along the third storey in Thornfield. She gradually acquires freedom in spite of her sex, not by taking arms and fighting against patriarchal order, but by shaping her own reality.

  • 11 «Enfant, Jane n’est ainsi ni étrangère à la famille Reed, ni vraiment intégrée, puisqu’elle a été (...)

25Jane becomes the literary double of her creator. While in real life Charlotte Brontë decided to hide her femininity behind a masculine pseudonym, Jane allows for the free expression of the feminine in art. Being outside society and unclassifiable, she is able to express what is otherwise repressed. Once she accepts that she is and will remain outside the boundaries of Victorian class society, she can come to herself and uphold her own truth. Jane’s unclear social status allows her to make choices that would be untenable if she belonged either to the world of the aristocrats represented by the Reed family or Blanche Ingram for instance, or to that of the servants. She can oppose both Rochester and Saint John Rivers because she is and remains an outsider in society11.

26The process is a long one, though. It implies that she has to be rejected, humiliated, and that she eventually agrees to be fundamentally different—not to belong. This happens when she has the last word in a conversation with St John, the God-fearing Puritan who wanted to marry her and take her with him to India to become a missionary:

I broke from St John, who had followed, and would have detained me. It was my time to assume ascendancy. My powers were in play, and in force. I told him to forbear question or remark; I desired him to leave me: I must, and would be alone. He obeyed at once. Where there is energy to command well enough, obedience never fails. (358)

27Here is a true, radical reversal of functions. A woman is in power, pronouncing “violent, unfeminine” words to quote St John (351), giving orders and being obeyed. Yet, again I would argue that this is no feminist manifesto. First, the scene takes place behind closed doors, unseen and unheard by any other character. Then, one should remember that Jane is acting under the spell of a masculine voice: “[…] it was the voice of a human being—a known, loved, well-remembered voice—that of Edward Fairfax Rochester” (357). All this tends to qualify the expression of Jane’s freedom and to limit the scope of her power. What’s more, in spite of her inheritance (bequeathed her by a man again), Jane still has not found her place in the social ladder. Her final happiness in Ferndean, as has often been underlined, is only possible because the place is secluded and because Rochester is now a chastised, maimed, diminished man.

28All cares are taken by the narrator to respect the rules of polite society to the end. As an illustration, the representation of madness in the novel functions as a guarantee of Jane’s own sanity in the eyes of Victorian England. Rochester’s wife becomes mad because she tries to crush male domination and fails, as when she attacks her husband:

The lunatic sprang and grappled his throat viciously, and laid her teeth to his cheek: they struggled. She was a big woman, in stature almost equalling her husband, and corpulent besides: she showed virile force in the contest—more than once she almost throttled him, athletic as he was. He could have settled her with a well-planted blow; but he would not strike: he would only wrestle. At last he mastered her arms; Grace Poole gave him a cord, and he pinioned them behind her: with more rope, which was at hand, he bound her to a chair. (250)

29Bertha is in her turn crushed by the Law she rebels against. She lives outside the language that condemns her and calls her mad.

30Jane, on the contrary, uses the Law that makes her an heiress and then a happy bride; she uses and manipulates language to tell her story. She herself condemns Bertha, calling her “the lunatic”. The description of this violent scene clearly underlines the madwoman’s evilness as opposed to Rochester’s dignity. On the whole, outward, violent action is being underplayed in the novel. This type of action recurrently involves Bertha and takes place off-stage: the prisoner is mostly heard but not seen, carefully kept behind a door; when she attacks her brother, Mason, the fight is told afterwards and only the bleeding is described as Jane is called upon to tend the wounded man; the episode of the fire that eventually destroys Thornfield is related by the innkeeper.

31Jane forestalls the threat of madness thanks to her lucidity about her own limitations and her plainness, and her recognition of her powerlessness regarding her social condition. But in sharp contrast with these limitations, Jane’s inner worth is highlighted in the novel. The style itself allows for the arousing of her feminine voice and vision, enshrined in a vaporous veil of words that both separates them from and keeps them attached to the proprieties of Victorian society, the conventions of fiction writing, the law of the phallic order.

  • 12 To Lacan, there is no such thing as “Woman” but there are feminine positions: «[I]l n’y a pas La f (...)

32Charlotte Brontë is no George Sand or Harriet Martineau and she is clearly not drawn to feminist demands. The commitment is not so daring as Hardy’s either. It is more subtle—more feminine. For it is not feminism—understood as a defence of the rights of women—but femininity that she infuses into her text. Lacan defines woman not as a biological being but as a position in the symbolic order, so that to him woman is never whole and never graspable as such12. I would argue that Charlotte Brontë shows in her own way how woman does not fit into the box the symbolic order allots her, and how she keeps slipping through the slots and fissures in the phallic law. The feminine power that Charlotte Brontë claims finds its true and free expression outside the symbolic order rather than against it. In Jane Eyre, this means getting out of the world and its patriarchal rules. Woman’s freedom therefore seems attainable but fragile and costly. It implies first to accept not to belong anywhere, to be on the margin. Jane’s success as a heroine depends on her ability to affranchise herself from male bondage but without rebelling against the established law.

33She comes close to the figure of the artist: she shares the non-conformism and the craving for liberty of the poète maudit. What saddens and distresses her she turns into art. But her will invariably checks the power of her imagination, so that she never gives up the moral and religious values of her time, and she never loses herself. Similarly, the text does not promote feminism: the newly acquired freedom Jane enjoys at the end depends on her ability to give voice to her inner truth, but this takes place at a remove from the social world.

34What Jane Eyre truly unveils, therefore, is femininity, which allows for poetic moments in the text that challenge the conventions of realism—moments when the writing becomes blurred, when uncertainty prevails over dogmas and the doxa, when it makes room for otherness and for an enigmatic voice:

“As I exclaimed ‘Jane! Jane! Jane!’ a voice—I cannot tell whence the voice came, but I know whose voice it was—replied, ‘I am coming: wait for me;’ and a moment after went whispering on the wind the words—‘Where are you?
[…] ‘Where are you?’ seemed spoken amongst mountains; for I heard a hill-sent echo repeat the words. Cooler and fresher at the moment the gale seemed to visit my brow: I could have deemed that in some wild, lone scene, I and Jane were meeting. In spirit, I believe, we must have met.” (381)

35Rochester’s revelation does not lead Jane to tell about the voice she heard too. She preserves her privacy to the end and keeps her secrets for her and the reader alone. She does not seem ready to open up her whole mind to the man she has chosen as her husband. Just as Charlotte Brontë hid behind the pseudonym of Currer Bell, so Jane conceals herself under plain clothes and under a veil of words and silence. Used to isolation and secrecy, she learns to listen to her feelings, to develop her creativity, and thus comes to herself.

36If madness threatens her as early as when she is a child in Gateshead, she gradually comes to follow another track that allows her to give voice to the murmurs of her soul without destroying her mind. Whereas Bertha loses her name, her freedom—herself—, Jane becomes ever more substantial and definite. She is not crushed by the law but finds her own singular way out of its strictures. She does not become mad because she gives life to her own reality. The writing of her self makes her a figure of the artist and a defender of femininity. But this implies that her freedom exists only as freedom of another kind, as a strange and remote reality, in a world of her own.


1 Woolf V., The Common Reader, First Series, “‘Jane Eyre’ and ‘Wuthering Heights’” [1925], London, The Hogarth Press, 1968, p. 198.

2 Ibid., p. 199.

3 Rich A., “Jane Eyre: The Temptations of a Motherless Woman”, in Brontë C., Jane Eyre [1847], New York and London, Norton, 2001, p. 470.

4 Cf. Martin R. B., Charlotte Bronte’s Novels: The Accents of Persuasion, New York, Norton, 1966, p. 60-61. See also Yeazell R. B., “More True than Real”, Nineteenth Century Fiction, XXIX, June 1974, p. 127-143; Gilbert S. M. & Gubar S., The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination, New Haven and London, Yale University Press, 1979; Bertrandias B., Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre: la parole orpheline, Paris, Ellipses, 2004; Claire Bazin, “The red-room”, in Bury L. & Sipière D. [eds]., Jane Eyre, Le roman de Charlotte Brontë et le film de Franco Zeffirelli, Paris, Ellipses, 2008, p. 153-161; Bazin C. et Sipière D., Jane Eyre, L’itinéraire d’une femme, Du roman à l’écran, Paris, CNED, Presses Universitaires de France, 2008.

5 Bernard S., “The Never-Ending Story”, Borie C. & Ouvrard E. (eds), “Jane Eyre: text, context, ur-text”, Lisa e-journal, vol. vii, no 4, 2009,

6 Talairach-Vielmas L., “Legacies of the Past: The Buried Stories of Thornfield Hall”, Bury L. & Sipière D. (eds), Jane Eyre, Le roman de Charlotte Brontë et le film de Franco Zeffirelli, Paris, Ellipses, 2008, p. 131.

7 Brontë C., Jane Eyre [1847], New York and London, Norton, 2001.

8 Hardy T., Life and Art, New York, Haskell House, 1966, p. 119.

9 Rich A., op. cit., p. 483.

10 Ibid., p. 475.

11 «Enfant, Jane n’est ainsi ni étrangère à la famille Reed, ni vraiment intégrée, puisqu’elle a été recueillie par charité. Gouvernante, elle est trop éduquée pour s’assimiler aux domestiques, mais ne saurait faire partie du cercle familial puisqu’elle est l’employée. Cette non-appartenance permet une liberté qui s’exprime dans la capacité à dire non, et l’héroïne tient ainsi tête à deux hommes dans une société pourtant marquée par le patriarcat» (Fromonot J., «Formes, figures et fins de la négation dans Jane Eyre », Le Texte étranger et T3L no 6, journée d’études du 14 février 2009,, p. 8).

12 To Lacan, there is no such thing as “Woman” but there are feminine positions: «[I]l n’y a pas La femme» (Lacan, J., Le Séminaire. Livre XX. Encore 1972-1973, Paris, Le Seuil, 1975, p. 68).


Stéphanie Bernard est l’auteure d’une thèse et d’articles sur Thomas Hardy et Joseph Conrad, s’intéressant particulièrement au tragique et à la modernité, à l’intertextualité et à la réécriture. Son travail porte également sur le féminin dans les textes de Conrad et Hardy et sur l’écriture féminine en tant que telle, notamment au travers de Jane Eyre de Charlotte Brontë. Elle a ainsi contribué à la Revue LISA en 2007 dans un article intitulé « Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë : The Never-Ending Story » et participé à l’ouvrage Jane Eyre : Le roman de Charlotte Brontë et le film de Franco Zeffirelli (Ellipses, 2008).

© Presses universitaires de Rennes, 2012

Conditions d’utilisation :