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Ordinary MasochismsAgency and Desire in Victorian and Modernist Fiction$
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Jennifer Mitchell

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780813066677

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813066677.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 26 September 2021

Villette’s Erotic Experimentation

Villette’s Erotic Experimentation

(p.33) Chapter 2 Villette’s Erotic Experimentation
Ordinary Masochisms

Jennifer Mitchell

University Press of Florida

In Villette, Charlotte Brontë’s narrator Lucy Snowe experiments with what can be read as gendered sadistic and masochistic roles before discovering in M. Paul a mutually masochistic partner. With Ginevra Fanshawe, Lucy dabbles in sadism in the abuse she doles out whereas with Dr. John, Lucy performs as the traditional courted woman who relishes an apparently inactive position as the feminine object of courtship. This relationship with Dr. John is her trial with the kind of inherent female masochism psychoanalysts and sexologists identify as endemic to the female experience. Unsurprisingly, these relationships fail and the satisfaction Lucy yields from them is fleeting and insubstantial. By falling for M. Paul, Lucy is able to successfully link the two worlds with which she previously flirted—the typically female masochistic realm and the conventionally male sadistic realm.

Keywords:   Charlotte Brontë, sadism, female masochism

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