The Profession of the Author: Abstraction, Advertising, and Jane Eyre

Marcus, Sharon

Since its publication in 1847, Jane Eyre has been read by its detractors and admirers as the portrayal of a willful female subject who claims her own identity. Readers have failed to note, however, that the most basic and encompassing marker of that identity, her name, tends to emerge when her will is most in abeyance. In this essay, I analyze abstraction through close readings of scenes of speech, writing, and advertising in Jane Eyre and through a consideration of Charlotte Bronte's dealings in the Victorian literary market. The concept of abstraction is crucial to understanding the relation of writing to female subjectivity in Jane Eyre and in Bronte's literary career because it mediates between apparently contradictory categories: embodiment and invisibility, self-effacement and self-advertisement, femininity and professional identity, fragmentation and wholeness, and profit and loss.


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English and Comparative Literature
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November 5, 2015