(Un)observed: Deceptive Narration and Trauma in Charlotte Brontë’s Villette




Pinto, Sonja

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In this essay, I propose that Lucy lies as a way of coping with traumatic events that remain beyond her narration. I thus reclaim Villette as a trauma narrative to explain Lucy’s deceptive narration and resistance to being observed. This narrative deception, coupled with the novel’s obsession with disguise, surveillance, and identity, reveals Lucy’s inability to confront and represent her own trauma. I argue that the novel’s narrative form discloses Lucy’s unresolved trauma even as she suppresses this trauma by withholding information from the reader. In my analysis of the novel, Lucy’s narrative strategies (such as omission, prolepsis, ellipsis, and generic subversion) are of utmost importance to her relationship with her trauma. By combining narratology, reader-response theory, and trauma studies approaches, I aim to examine how Lucy’s deceptive narration occurs as a response to a traumatic event.



literature, trauma, narratology, Victorian