Focusing on Charlotte Brontë’s fascinating capacity to transcend her own time as well as to penetrate the recesses of female interiority, I delve into the paradox contained in the turbulent ailment of "anorexia nervosa" in Villette and Shirley, as the embodiment of an obvious self-destructive behavior, and yet a source of partial female power in Victorian England. As a reaction against her contemporary patriarchy, Brontë perceives and unfolds for her reader women's repressed knowledge regarding the reasons leading to "anorexia," not yet categorized as a disease, and its alarming social inescapability. However, at a deeper level the author longs to externalize the intriguing as well as radical female "hunger" so as to attain agency while avoiding patriarchal control, paradoxically at the expense of their physical health.
Thesis (M.A.)--University of Kansas, English, 2007.