Epiphany and feminine subjectivity in the novels of Charlotte Bronte, D.H. Lawrence and Doris Lessing
The purpose of this thesis lies in establishing the importance of moments of epiphany in developing ways of understanding feminine subjectivity in Charlotte Bronte's Villette, D. H. Lawrence's Sons and Lovers, The Rainbow, and Women in Love, and Doris Lessing's Children of Violence series. The comparisons and contrasts in these texts' treatment of the feminine subject are elaborated. Epiphany's place in different narrative structures is considered, as is the issue of how the implicit gendering of those narrative patterns constructs the feminine subject, sometimes in ways that may conflict with the gender of the characters concerned. The conclusions of the thesis suggest that an understanding of feminine subjectivity in the novels considered is invaluably aided by examining the novels' epiphanies; and elaborate the previously implicit evaluative comparison of the three writers' novels from the perspective outlined below. The critical and theoretical approach of the thesis relies on the combination of a feminist commitment to understand and change patriarchal relations with poststructuralist theories about language and the subject that suggest the importance of language in constructing our ideas. Psychoanalytic models and theories are frequently used as they best address the Issues I. find interesting in these texts. The thesis is divided into four chapters. The first Is a history of epiphany's development as a concept from its appearance in the work of Joyce to its use as a critical term. The second deals with epiphany's disruption of established models of feminine subjectivity In Villette. The third discusses the differentiation of feminine and masculine epiphanies and languages in Sons and Lovers and The Rainbow, and that pattern's collapse in Women in Love; and the fourth chapter deals with the various models of the feminine subject in Children of Violence, and considers why they do not productively conflict with, or question each other.