The Male Gaze and Masochism: The Construction and Penetration of the Phantom Automaton in Jane Eyre and Villette


  • Nat Steenbergh


Many Victorian classics have been read within the vein of approaching the “Woman Question” of the time period. That is to say, Victorian authors were concerned with the idea of women's economic, social, and political liberation. More than this, I would suggest that Victorian reflections on women’s issues, identities, and changing social roles in fact prefigured some of the questions and concerns that contemporary fiction takes up today in relation to posthumanism and the broader question of “being human.” The Victorian woman was one of the key and most important figures in the early discourses of posthumanism. Victorian literature uncovers the embodiment of what it is to be a human-like subject who is somehow less than, inferior, or objectified (disassembled) into various parts and sensations for the use and pleasure of others.