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Haunted Childhood in Charlotte Brontë's 'Villette'

Lucie Armitt
The Yearbook of English Studies
Vol. 32, Children in Literature (2002), pp. 217-228
DOI: 10.2307/3509059
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3509059
Page Count: 12
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Haunted Childhood in Charlotte Brontë's 'Villette'
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Abstract

In Villette, the obvious fakeness of the phantom robs it of uncanny status, reducing it to a form of narrative decoy which deflects attention away from what are consistently described as unheimlich in the novel: children and childhood. Though Lucy Snowe's own childhood past is shrouded in mist, an Object Relations reading reveals the souvenir value she attributes, instead, to domestic furniture and fittings, themselves operating as phantoms giving shape to an otherwise formless sense of loss. Ultimately, as the novel's ending shows, this superficially consolatory mechanism simply ensnares the adult Lucy in an ongoing false self-image: the abandoned child.

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