Tearing up the nun : Charlotte Brontë's gothic self-fashioning
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This report explores the ideological motivations behind Charlotte Brontë's inclusion of and alterations to gothic conventions in Villette (1853). By building on an account of the recent critical conversation concerning the conservative Enlightenment force of the gothic, this report seeks to explain the political significance of a specific, nineteenth-century mutation in the genre: Lucy Snowe as an experiment in the bourgeois paradigm. Lucy Snowe's sophisticated consciousness of genre manifests in her minute attention to dress, but the persistence of her personal gothic history means that Villette enacts political tension between individualistic "self-fashioning" and historical determinism as clashing models for the origin of identity.