Book Chapter Details
Mandatory Fields
Muireann O'Cinneide
2012 July
The Legacies of Romanticism: Literature, Aesthetics, Landscape
“Burney’s Wanderers and Brontė’s Silent Revolts: Revolution, Vagrancy and Gender.”
Optional Fields
Romanticism Victorian Revolutionary Literature Burney The Wanderer Bronte Jane Eyre Vagrancy Influence Women's Writing
This chapter traces the legacies of Romanticism’s engagement with revolutionary politics through the changing trope of woman as wanderer in Frances Burney’s The Wanderer (1814) and Charlotte Brontė’s Jane Eyre (1847). In these novels, the upheaval of national and personal revolution generates individual displacement from established geographical, societal and psychic settings. Burney and Brontė each interrogate the gendered dynamics of Romantic vagrancy, establishing the essential insufficiency of existing natural and social worlds to nurture their displaced heroines, and seeking alternative ordering principles for their heroines’ post-revolutionary futures. For Burney, this serves to envisage a fragile post-revolutionary world reconstituted with regard to an overarching external framework of divine justice. Brontė, however, extends her Romantic legacy of revolutionary wandering to inscribe a mode of rooted societal selfhood, one which nevertheless takes its shape from the contained desires of the individual. This suggests a means through which Victorian women writers could articulate constructions of post-Romantic and post-revolutionary futures grounded in the psychological interiority of the narrating subject.
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