This innovative and critically acclaimed study successfully challenges the traditional view that Charlotte Bronte existed in a historical vacuum, by setting her work firmly within the context of Victorian psychological debate. Based on extensive local research, using texts ranging from local newspaper copy to the medical tomes in the Reverend Patrick Bronte's library, Sally Shuttleworth explores the interpenetration of economic, social, and psychological discourse in the early and mid-nineteenth century, and traces the ways in which Charlotte Bronte's texts operate in relation to this complex, often contradictory, discursive framework. Shuttleworth offers a detailed analysis of Bronte's fiction, informed by a new understanding of Victorian constructions of sexuality and insanity, and the operations of medical and psychological surveillance.
Part I. Psychological Discourse in the Victorian Era: 1. The art of surveillance
2. The Haworth context
3. Insanity and selfhood
4. Reading the mind: physiognomy and phrenology
5. The female bodily economy
Part II. Charlotte Brontes Fiction: 6. The early writings: penetrating power
7. The Professor: 'the art of self-control'
8. Jane Eyre: 'lurid hieroglyphics'
9. Shirley: bodies and markets
10. Villette: 'the surveillance of a sleepless eye'