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The Miranda Complex: Colonialism and the Question of Feminist Reading The Madwoman in the Attic: The Woman

Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Imagination by Sandra M. Gilbert; Susan Gubar; Three Women's Texts and a Critique of Imperialism by Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak Review by: Laura E. Donaldson Diacritics, Vol. 18, No. 3 (Autumn, 1988), pp. 65-77 Published by: The Johns Hopkins University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/465255 . Accessed: 21/11/2013 03:17
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THE

MIRANDA

COMPLEX: THE

COLONIALISM AND

QUESTION OF
FEMINIST READING

LAURAE. DONALDSON
Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. THE MADWOMAN IN THE ATTIC: THE WOMAN WRITERAND THE NINETEENTH-CENTURY IMAGINATION. New Haven: Yale UP, 1984. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak. "THREE WOMEN'S TEXTS AND A CriticalInquiry12 (1985): 243-61. CRITIQUEOF IMPERIALISM." 1 Mir: The strangeness of your storyput heaviness in me. Pros: Shakeit off. Come on. We'll visit Caliban, my slave, who never yields us kind answer. Mir: 'Tis a villain, sir, I do not love to look on. -The Tempest 1.2.372-78 Blindness slashes our tapestryto shreds. -Audre Lorde, Our Dead behind Us: Poems 16

In the novel Invisible Man-Ralph Ellison's profoundexplorationof a black man's invisibility within a white man's world-seeing (or not seeing) is the paradigmatic truein political and hermeneuticact. This is particularly an episode which focuses upon the importanceof race as an interpretive framework for the Brotherhood,the leftist group which has recruited the Invisible Man as a paid organizer. After the police arrestan unarmedblack man for selling Little Black Sambodolls withouta permitand thenshoot him for resistingarrest,a heatedargumenteruptsbetween the Invisible Man and BrotherTobitt, a leader of the leftist group. Tobitt emphaticallyrejects the contention thatrace had anythingto do with this killing: "blackand white, white and black ... must we listen to this racist nonsense?" [458]. The Invisible Man retortsthat he was only trying "to point out a partof reality which the committee seems to have missed" [461]. This blindnessof the Brotherhood is ironicallydramatized when, during his fit of rage, BrotherTobitt's glass eye pops out. For the Invisible Man, Tobitt's dead buttermilkeye becomes a powerfulemblem of how those who

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should see cannot perceive difference and how this incarcerateshim in a social and political transparency: I am invisible,understand, simplybecausepeople refuseto see me.... Whenthey approach me they see only my surroundings,themselves,orfigments of their imagination-indeed, everythingand anythingexceptme. Nor is myinvisibility exactly a matterof a biochemicalaccident to my epidermis. Thatinvisibilityto whichI refer occurs because of a peculiar dispositionof the eyes of those with whomI come into contact. A matterof the constructionof theirinnereyes, those eyes with which they look throughtheirphysical eyes upon reality. [3] The truefailure,then, is thatof the innereye-the hermeneutic eye-which selects some randomelements of reality and foregroundsthem as meaningfulpatternsbut relegates othersto a meaninglessbackground.If, as the InvisibleMansuggests,responsibilityrests on recognition and recognitionis a form of agreement,then the Brotherhoodbelies its name in the "peculiardisposition"of its eyes and its coercive erasureof the Other. It is precisely this agreementaboutrecognitionthatis lacking in the recenttempests of feminist literary theory. Instead of the Invisible Man, however, there looms the Bronte'snovel Jane Eyre. of BerthaMasonin Charlotte InvisibleWoman-the character In fact, one of this decade's most influentialworksof criticaltheory,SandraGilbertand Susan Gubar's The Madwomanin the Attic: The WomanWriterand the NineteenthCenturyImagination,takes its name fromBertha-the madwomanhiddenand confined in the attic of Thomfield-and uses heras thepivotal figurein re-visioningan alternative literarytraditionmanifesting"thecommon, female impulse to strugglefree from social and literaryconfinementthroughstrategicredefinitionsof self, artand society" [xi]. ForGilbertandGubar,Berthaexpressesthe"anxietiesandabilities"of this feminine tradition: as Jane's "truestand darkestdouble she is the... ferocious secret self Janehas been tryingto repressever since her days at Gateshead"[360]. Indeed,they argue,only Jane's absorptionof Bertha's characterinto her own will allow her to achieve the fully most of Bronte's text. In heressay sexual and independentidentityshe lacks throughout "Three Women's Texts and a Critiqueof Imperialism,"GayatriChakravortySpivak criticizes this adoptionof Jane Eyre as a limit text of feminism since it privileges the articulatesherself in such a way individualistfemale subjectwho, "not-quite/not-male," thatthe "'nativefemale' ... (within discourse,as a signifier) is excluded fromany share in this emergingnorm"["Texts" of feminist identityall 245]. For Spivak,the articulation too often repeats what she characterizesas the quintessentialgesture of colonialismblindness to the epistemic violence thateffaces the colonial subjectand requiresher to 209]. occupy the space of the imperialists'self-consolidatingOther ["Subaltern" This position of the self-consolidating Other clearly describes the space Bertha of Jane Eyre. As Rochester's first wife, occupies in Gilbertand Gubar'sinterpretation Bertha is the obstacle preventingJane and Edward's ultimate happiness;as the white JamaicanCreole who "grovelled, seemingly, on all fours . . . and growled like some strangewild animal,"she blurs the frontierbetween humanand animalandjustifies the projectof "soul making"which Spivakidentifies with the imperialistproject. Finally, as the creolized, or "mixed," scene of Europe and its "not-yet-humanOther" [Spivak, "Texts"247], Berthasacrifices her own identity so thatJane might find hers. Spivak's questioningof Jane Eyre as a limit text of feminism implies that Berthafunctionsas its of slavery,for she remindsus of the theoreticaldiasporain which the"native" rem(a)inder female subject is remaindered:sold out, discontinued,dropped. This criticismseems particularly telling in view of GilbertandGubar'sinterpretation of Berthain Madwoman,which not only imprisonsherwithintheprivatisticcell of Jane's psyche, but also deprives her of any independenttextual significance. Further,their

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placementof Berthawithin thatgenreof women's fantasies"inwhich maddeneddoubles functioned as asocial surrogatesfor docile selves" [xi] irrevocablyalienates her from culture-a denial of autonomyand subjectivitywhich they deplore when it oppresses Anglo-Europeanwomen. Gilbert and Gubar'sregret concerning "just how much ... women's history has been lost or misunderstood"[xii] ironically underscores the limitations of their own methodology, since their own "distinctivelyfemale" tapestry bleaches women of color into an asocial invisibility. Like the Invisible Man, women of color learn that"I may not-see myself as others see me not" [Ellison 466]. A constructwhich mighthelp us understand the particular colonialismof Gilbertand Gubar,and of many white feminists, is takenfrom Shakespeare'splay The Tempestand is illustratedby what I call "The MirandaComplex." While the trope of Prosperoand Calibanand its evocation of self andother,the West andthe Rest of Us, the colonizer and the indigenous people, has received much critical attention,1 the relationshipbetween Miranda and Caliban has been virtually ignored. In the symbolic economy of the "ProsperoComplex," Prospero enacts the role of omnipotent western patriarch,and thatserves as Caliban,thatof the "native"Othersufferingfromthe culturalderacination the intellectual and emotional counterpartto economic enslavement [Bulhan 189]. Miranda-the Anglo-European daughter-offers us a femininetropeof colonialism, for her textualand psychological selflessness in The Tempestexposes the particular oppression of women under the rule of their biological and culturalFathers. Like Caliban, Miranda hasbeen "colonizedandtricked" andexists only "asman'sotherside, his denied, and hidden side. She has abused, constantlybeen the embodimentof a nonculture.... "2 A crucial questionraisedby the coupling of Mirandaand Calibanis why these two victims of colonialist Prosperitycannot "see" each other;for us, the crucial question is why Gilbertand Gubar,who in Madwomanoccupy the position of Miranda,cannot see the "native"female in theirreadingof women's texts. InAin'tI a Woman:Black Women and Feminism, Bell Hooks (Gloria Watson) provides a historical example of this blindness and its dire socio-historical consequences. Her stark description of the brutalization of blackfemale slaves testifies to the fact thattheirtorture not only involved racialabuseandcontemptof the femalebutnecessitatedthecomplicity of white Southern females: "It takes little imaginationto comprehendthe significance of one oppressed black woman being brutally torturedwhile the more privileged white women look passively at herplight. Incidentsof thisnatureexposed to whitewomenthe crueltyof their andservedas a warningof whatmightbe theirfate should husbands,fathers,andbrothers maintain a stance" not [38]. While white slave masters can no longer they passive black women subjugate throughphysical oppression,a white theoreticalmasteryengenders much of the same anguish,rage, and bitternessthroughthe silence thatcloaks their existence. Because this silence infects the practiceof Madwomanwith its critical dis-ease, it seemingly confirmsSpivak's claim thatfeminist methodologyrequires"a self-immolating colonial subjectfor the glorificationof the social mission of the colonizer" ["Texts" of the"native" femaleBerthaforthegloryof Jane'sindividuation. 251]-the annihilation If the tempestis a havoc raisedby mastery(or complicity in mastery),3 then the Miranda Complex spawns uncomfortableideological questionsabout the enablingconditions of feminist reading.

A. Baker,Jr., "Caliban'sTriplePlay," CriticalInquiry13 (1986): 190. 1Houston 2JosetteFeral, "ThePowers of Difference,"The Futureof Difference, ed. Hester Eisenstein and Alice Jardine (Boston: Hall/BarnardCollege Women'sCenter, 1980) 89. 3Baker193.

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2 "That'sFrench," Harkertold me then, and droppeddown beside me where I was sitting there on the ground ... "Negro" meant black man; "negress" was black woman; "blank"was white. I laughed at that, thinkingabout Miz Lady. -Sherley Anne Williams, Dessa Rose 185 Whitemythology-metaphysics has erased within itself thefabulous scene that has produced it, the scene that neverthelessremains active and stirring, inscribed in white ink, an invisible design covered over in the palimpsest. -Jacques Derrida,"WhiteMythology"213 In theirinterpretation of a distinctively female literarytradition,Gilbertand Gubar of suspicion," follow the examples of Marx and Freudby constructinga "hermeneutics or the search for a deep truthburied beneath layer upon layer of social and cultural sediment. For Marx, the fetishism of the commodity hides the scene of its social production;for Freud,the repressiveforces of the conscious hide the sexual scene of the unconscious;for Gilbertand Gubar,the masculinistliterarytraditionhides the feminine "truth" of the woman's text-palimpsest: In short... womenfrom Jane Austen and Mary Shelley to Emily Bronte and Emily Dickinsonproduced literaryworks that are in some sense palimpsestic, works whose surface designs conceal or obscure deeper, less accessible (and less socially acceptable) levels of meaning. Thus these authors managed the difficult task of achieving true female literary authority by simultaneously conformingto and subvertingpatriarchal literarystandards. [73] In the woman's text-palimpsest,a surface design createdby the conventions of "male genre" covers over an invisible, and often subversive, inscription of an alternative "female" sensibility. Reading consequently becomes an activity of salvaging the authentic, yet submerged, female literary voice. Gilbert and Gubar's more general of theirwork descriptionof feminist methodologyclearly supportsthis characterization of suspicion:"Becauseso manyof the lost orconcealed truthsof female as a hermeneutics culture have recently been retrievedby feminist scholars, women readersin particular have lately become awarethatnineteenth-century literarywomen felt they had things to hide"[75]. Unlike MarxorFreud,who posit a negativemotivationfor thesocial or sexual repressionof the truth,Gilbertand Gubarasserta positive one: hiding the female voice enables it to survive the crushingweight of an overtly hostile literarytradition. The questionthenbecomes, Whatexactly is the "single secretmessage" [75] of their feminist hermeneutics? Gilbert and Gubarresoundinglyaffirm that it does possess a univocal content, and its name is Bertha Mason: her "figure arises like a bad dream, bloody, envious, enraged, as if the very process of writing had itself liberated a madwoman,a crazyandangrywoman, froma silence in which neithershe norherauthor can continue to acquiesce" [77]. While the most obvious element of this determining patternis the way Bertha's "mad"voice screams with the anger of all women, a less obvious element emerges in the privilege Gilbert and Gubarbestow upon the binary oppositions depth/surfaceand visible/invisible in theirrecreationof the woman's textpalimpsest-a dualism which preventsthem from perceiving how non-white mythologies might offer a very differentmodel of reading. This "Other"politics of reading resists Gilbert and Gubar's attempt to locate an invisible truthbeneaththe visible surfaceof the text's signifying practicesby demanding

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thatwe interrogatefigures of the feminineOtherin all theirphenomenalimmediacy. For example, the interpretiveact within the black literarytraditionturnson the signifying tropeof Eshu, the trickster-linguist figureof Yorubamythology [Gates,"TheBlackness of Blackness"287]. Eshu's feminine counterpart exists in PombaGira,his cunningand voluptuousBrazilianwife, who cultivatesambiguityby showing one palm upward,as if as if denyingit.4 As an interpretive model from bestowingfavor,andthe otherdownward, a non-European culture,PombaGirafigures an undecidabilitywhich requiresthe reader of a text-in thiscase, of a woman'sfacialexpression-to engage in traversing thesurface ratherthandiving deep and surfacing(to use a well-known feminist metaphor)with the sunken hermeneutictreasure. Zora Neale Hurston'sethnographyof Hoodoo, "or Voodoo as pronouncedby the whites" [193], dramatizes how a strategy of reading that does not privilege binary opposition might operate. Accordingto Hurston,hoodoo thrivedin the black communities of the Southas a religionof the oppressedwhose ritualsparticularly endowed women with its power of readingsigns. All hoodoo practitioners mustbecome adept at reading signs, for they mustknow the meaningof naturalphenomena: the weather,the behavior of plantsand animals,and the whims of children. To the hoodoo sign-reader,all of these have spiritualsignificance.5 Hurstonbringsthisprocessof readingto life in herdescriptionof theconjurer Frizzly Rooster and how he "worked"his clients: "He could 'read' anybodyat sight. He could 'read' anyone who remainedout of his sight if they but stucktwo fingers inside the door. He could 'read' anyone,no matterhow faraway, if he were given theirheight andcolor" [221]. Unlike Gilbertand Gubar,then,the hoodoo sign-reader conjuresa heterogeneous ratherthanhomogeneous signifying practice,for the readerof the hoodoo text, "like all of the conjuremasters,has more thanone way of doing every job. People are different andwhatwill win withone personhas no effect uponanother" [231]. As an-Otherstrategy of reading,hoodoodemandsthatone attendto the surfaceof thetextandrefuse to subsume its plurivocity into the quest for a univocal feminine truth.

Womanist 1. From "womanish" (Opp. of "girlish,"i.e.,frivolous, irresponsible, not serious.) A blackfeminist orfeminist of color. From the black folk expression of motherstofemale children, "Youacting womanish,"i.e., like a woman. Usually referringto outrageous, audacious, courageous or willful behavior. Wantingto know more and in greater depth than is considered "good"for one.... 2. Also: Traditionallycapable, as in: "Mama,I'm walking to Canada and I'm takingyou and a bunch of other slaves with me." Reply: "Itwouldn't be thefirst time." -Alice Walker,In Search of Our Mothers' Gardensxi Most critics have construedCaliban solely in terms of his colonized relation to Prospero;few haveperceivedCaliban'sown questformasterythroughone of patriarchy's most dehumanizingand oppressiveweapons-the threatof rape. While Mirandadenies thatCalibanpossesses any being at all, Calibansees in Mirandaonly the distortedbeing of women as sexual receptacles and patronymic extensions. Such a misprision, or ontological misunderstanding,prevents him from grasping how similarly Prospero dominatesboth"daughter" and"native": in thisterribleirony,Calibanreinforces, trapped
4LuisahTeish, Jambalaya: The NaturalWoman's Books of PersonalCharmsand Practical Rituals (San Francisco: Harper, 1985) 112. 5LuisahTeish, "Women'sSpirituality: A HouseholdAct" [Smith342].

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ratherthan weakens, the chains of their mutual enslavement. Without a transforming correctionof vision, Mirandaand Calibanseem doomed to fail in theirstruggle against Prospero'shegemony. As FrantzFanonobserves in Black Skin, WhiteMasks, "theonly means of breakingthis vicious circle thatthrows me back on myself is to restore to the other,throughmediationandrecognition,his humanreality.... The otherhas to perform the same operation. 'Action from one side only would be useless, because what is to happencan only be broughtaboutby means of both' (cited from Hegel, The Phenomenology of Mind, trans.J. B. Baillie, 2nd rev. ed. 230-231)" [217]. The misprisionof Calibanalso brings into focus the weakness of GayatriSpivak's position in "ThreeWomen's Texts," for like Caliban, she distorts feminine ontology. Spivak's failureto see how the white woman, as well as the "native"subject,suffers the of "feministindividualismin theage ravagesof colonialismnot only calls herproblematic into questionbutalso raises gravequestionsaboutany politics of reading of imperialism" which privileges one oppressionover another. BarbaraSmith drives this point "home" in Home Girls: A BlackFeministAnthologywhen she declaresthat"we [womenof color] examined our lives and found thateverythingout therewas kicking our behinds-race, class, sex, and homophobia. We saw no reason to rankoppressions,or, as many forces in the Black communitywould have us do, to pretendthatsexism, amongall the isms, was not happeningto us" [xxxii]. This descriptionof"womanism"affirmsthe simultaneityof oppressionsand incorporatessexual, racial,cultural,national,and economic considerations into any politics of reading.6 If the criticalpracticeof Madwoman precludesa womanistethic by its domestication and dissimulationof the "native"Other, then the practice of "ThreeWomen's Texts" seems equally vitiatedin its presuppositionthatJane Eyre interpellatesthe individualist subject through the subjectivity of Jane herself [Spivak 224]. According to Louis Althusser in "Ideology and Ideological State Apparatuses,"the classic realist text betweennarrative andreaderso thatthe reading orconstructstherelationship interpellates subject willingly accepts her status as the individual and non-contradictorylocus of in the meaning. Spivak uses Althusser'sformulationto arguethatJane's "privatization" fromthe diningroompeopled openingof Bronte'stext (exemplifiedby Jane'swithdrawal by the Reed family into a subsidiary and isolated breakfast room) implies a "selfmarginalized uniqueness" fertile with the ideology of bourgeois individualism. In Spivak's analysis, Jane Eyre as a feminist tract bears the offspring "militant female subject"[244-45], a womanwho achieves heridentityat the expense of the"native,"notquite-humanfemale Other. This conclusion points to a weakness within Althusser'stheory:because interpellation ignores the fissures thatthe violent and subterranean pressuresof patriarchal society men can lead one intofalse assumptions. and its uncritical women, adoption open between Indeed, a conflation of masculine and feminine subject positions certainly underlies Spivak's statementthat"GilbertandGubar,by callingJane Eyre 'PlainJane's progress,' see the novel as simply replacing the male protagonist[of Pilgrim's Progress] with the female" [249]. For Gilbert and Gubar, however, Jane Eyre parodies, rather than reproduces, the structureof the masculine quest plot and consequently narrates a distinctively feminine story of enclosure and escape [314]. By contending that Jane's establishmentof spatial and psychological boundaries connotes an "individualist"differentiationand autonomy, Spivak endows Jane with qualities usually ascribed to masculine development within the capitalist patriarchal ofMothering thatthe separationof family. Nancy Chodorownotes in TheReproduction the post-oedipal boy from the mother requires him to engage in a more emphatic TheDynamics Black "Womanism: 6Chikwenye of the Contemporary Okonjo Ogunyemi,
Female Novel in English," Signs: Joural of Women in Cultureand Society 11 (1985): 64.

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individuationanda moredefensive firmingof experiencedego boundariesthanthe postpracticesof oppression,however-a "habitual oedipal girl [166-67]. Jane's internalized mood of humiliation,self-doubt,forlorndepression,"and a constanttendency to submit to masculine authority-place her in a subject(ed) position starkly contrastedto the masculine one iteratedby Chodorowand assigned to her by Spivak. As her last name suggests, Jane is invisible as air and the heir to nothing [Gilbertand Gubar342]. If we traversethe textual surfaceof Jane Eyre, a surfacewhose filmic qualitiesare of the relationship much morepronouncedthanis usuallyrealized,anotherinterpretation theprocessesof cinematicsuture,we glimpse betweenJaneandBerthaemerges. Through a critical strategymorepromisingthanAlthusserian interpellation-not only for reading Bronte's very complex woman's text but also for developing a womanist politics of reading. Unlike interpellation,suturearticulatesitself in relation to culturallyimposed differences between the positions of men and women: "As a process, a practice of signification, sutureis an ideological operationwith a particularfunction in relationto paternalideology in thatout of a system of differencesit establishesa position in relation to the phallus. In so doing it places the spectatorin relationto thatposition.... It is the imaginaryunity, the suturedcoherence, the imaginarysense of identity set up by the classic film which must be challengedby a feminist film practiceto achieve a different constitutionof the subjectin relationto ideology" [Johnston2: 323]. If we imagine that Jane's "I" has become the "eye" of a camera, Spivak's characterization of her as an individualistSelf becomes extremelyproblematic. I now stood in the empty hall; before me was the breakfast-room door, and I stopped, intimidatedand trembling. Whata miserablelittlepoltroon hadfear, engenderedof unjustpunishment,made of me in those days! Ifeared to return to the nursery,andfeared to go forward to the parlour; ten minutesI stood in bell decidedme; agitatedhesitation;thevehementringingof thebreakfast-room I must enter. "Whocould want me?" I asked inwardly,as with both handsI turnedthe door-handle should stiff which,for a second or two, resistedmy efforts. "What I see besides AuntReed in the apartment?-a man or a woman?" The handle turned,the door unclosed,andpassing throughand curtseyinglow, I lookedup at-a blackpillar!-such, at least, appeared to me, atfirst sight, the straight, narrow,sable-clad shape standingerect on the rug; the grimface at the top was like a carved mask,placed above the shaft by way of capital.... "Yourname, little girl?" "JaneEyre, sir." In utteringthese wordsI lookedup: he seemed to me a tall gentleman,but thenI was very little; hisfeatures were large, and they and all the lines of his frame were equally harsh and prim. [JE 31-32] That Jane does not function as the individualistlocus of her own meaning and activity emerges from her indeterminatestance in this passage. She is afraid to returnto the heronly actionis an "agitatedhesitancy"which nursery,yet also afraidto entertheparlor; in many ways recalls the interpretive ambiguityofPomba Gira. In fact, what "decided" her, i.e., provides the resolution to Jane's hesitation, originates externally ratherthan bell. Incontrastto thepatriarchal internallyin theringingof thebreakfast-room I/eye who sees events as if in controlof them,Jane's I/eye is powerless, passive, and strippedof its own self-determination. At this point, the text makes a telling "cut" to the next paragraph,whose most aspect is its framingof Brocklehurstin explicitly phallic terms:the black extraordinary pillar standingerect (tumidpenile shaft), whose grim face (glans) ejaculatesthe words

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(sperm) which engender "legitimate"meaning (biological and ideological patronymy). The significanceof thiscontextis underscored by thepatriarchal conceptionof thephallus as whole, unitaryand simple, and its correspondingperceptionof the vagina as chaotic andfragmented,or in filmic terms,the negative inverseof the masculineframe.The shot angle of Jane's-and consequently of the reader's-eye in this sequence is extremely of thesubject, revealing,for in contrastto high-angleshotswhich diminishtheimportance his shots Jane's on focus Brocklehurst low-angle ("in low-angle emphasize power.7 his poweras boththe subjectof herdiscourse utteringthese wordsI lookedup")articulates and the masculine Subject whose phallic presence implies her own castratedabsence. Jane herself corroboratesthis pejorativepositioning of women by describing how Mr. Brocklehurst,"bendingfrom the perpendicular[flaccid after orgasm] ... installed his Justas Brocklehurst installshis personin Mrs.Reed's armchair, personin thearm-chair." he textuallyinstalls a phallic Personhoodover againstthe castratedwomanhoodof Jane. Jane Eyre's narrative cutsperformmuchthe samerole as thecutsof cinematicsuture. Suture proceeds in the cinematic text throughthe joining of one shot to the next and comprises one of the most basic processes of that"compulsoryand deliberateguidance of the thoughtsand associations of the spectator" known as film editing [Pudovkin87]. Since the cut from one shot to the next guaranteesthatboth preceding and subsequent shots will functionas absencesframingthe meaningof thepresent,it allows the cinematic text to be read as a signifying ensemble which converts a shot into a signifier of the subsequentshot, and into the signified of the one precedingit [Silverman,205]. The cut described above "edits" the thoughts and associations of the reader into a similar signifying ensemble in which Jane's undecidabilitybecomes a signifierof Brocklehurst as Phallus and Brocklehurstas Phallus becomes the signified of Jane's undecidability. The ideological power of suturelies precisely in this editorialability to reveal absence of the castratedfemale in orderto stitch over even moreclosely her temptation"to skid offcourse, out-of-control, to prefer castrationto false plenitude"[Silverman 232]. As a strategyof reading, it belies Spivak's descriptionof Janeas the feminist individualistan autonomous and fixed entity-and foregrounds her position as a "subject"-the productof signifying activities which are both culturallyspecific and generally unconscious [Silverman 130]. filmic cut of sutureis the shot/reverseshot formation, Perhapsthe most characteristic which establishescharacters' opticalpoints-of-view,especially in conversationalsettings [Kuhn 53]. No matter what the specific situation, the shot/reverse shot sequence invariablypresentsa shot of characterA and a reverse shot of characterB as seen by A, A as she looks at character thus conformingthe gaze of the viewer to thatof character B, and B as he looks at A. Consequently,the viewer muststandin for both characters,since neither A nor B appearin their respective reverse shots. However, as JacquelineRose notes in "Paranoia and the Film System,"the shot/reverseshot formationbetraysits own ambivalence by demandingthat the viewer adopt a position in the reverse shot which directly contravenes that of the first [cited in Silverman 233]. For instance, Alfred Hitchcock's film TheBirds encodes this contradiction into the text by placing the viewer firstin thepositionof Melanieandthenin thatof thebirdswho attackher. Here,theediting procedureof suturespeaksto its radicallyregressivepotential,for it encouragesa psychic operationwhich contravenesits largersignifying process [Silverman233]. If one accepts Kaja Silverman's suggestion in The Subjectof Semiotics that firstandall otherpoint-of-view indicatorsarethe novelistic equivalentof the personnarration filmic shot/reverseshot, then the scene between Jane and Brocklehurstalso inscribes a subversiveambivalence,for it grantsthe readeran initial view of Jane and then a reverse view of Brocklehurstfrom Jane's perspective. Like the viewer of TheBirds, the reader of FilmandMedia,rev.ed. [Oxford:Oxford UP, 1981] 164.
7JamesMonaco, How to Read a Film: The Art,Technology, Language,History,andTheory

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fromthe low-angle perspectiveof Melanie/ of Jane Eyre initiallyperceives Brocklehurst who seemsjust plainJane,andthenJanefromthe high-angleperspectiveof Brocklehurst, as malevolentas Hitchcock'smurderous birds:"Whata face he had... whata greatnose! and whata mouth!andwhatlargeprominentteeth!"[JE32]. AlthoughLittle Red Riding Hood escaped the big bad wolf, just as Jane ultimatelyescapes the wolfish Phallus of sutureenables a resistantreadingof Bronte'stext by forcing thereaderto live patriarchy, in the unsettlingcontradictionsof Jane's subjectivity. The relationshipbetween Jane and Rochester expands the context of this sexual/ its particular tactics of insurgency. In her seminal article, textual war by demonstrating "Visual Pleasure and NarrativeCinema,"feminist filmmakerand critic LauraMulvey observes that in the traditionalexhibitionist role which patriarchalculture assigns to coded for women, they are simultaneouslylooked at and displayed,andtheirappearance transforms strong visual and erotic impact [809]. This feminine "to-be-looked-at-ness" women into a fetish whose idealization fixates upon her physical beauty; thus, she becomes an object which satisfies, ratherthan threatensimpendingcastration. Such a fetishizing dynamic appears in dominant Hollywood cinema, for example, not only throughthe lingeringclose-ups which constitutewoman as a spectacle,but also through the glamorouscostumes, make-up,settings,andlightingsurrounding female stars[Kuhn 61]. ThatRochesterattemptsto turnJaneinto his own version of the female fetish seems withjewels, irrefutable from his premarital attemptsto see her"glitteringlike a parterre" satinsandsilks: "'I will maketheworldacknowledgeyou a beauty,too,' he wenton, while I [Jane]really becameuneasyat the strainhe hadadopted"[261]. Janevehementlyresists Rochester's fetishizationby declaring: "I hadratherbe a thing thanan angel" [264]-a statementframedby an earlierdescriptionof herselfas a "heterogenous thing... a useless of or to their interest their Even on the [16]. thing, incapable serving adding pleasure" most basic visual level, Jane's inabilityto satisfy the pleasureof the look challenges the illusion of plenitudewhichMulvey associateswith classic narrative film: small,dark,and plain, a "heterogenousthing,"she cannotand will not focus the determiningmasculine or of the viewing/readingsubject. gaze, whetherof Rochester/Brocklehurst In Jane's refusal of the look, i.e., the Phallic gaze, she articulatesa heterogeneous discoursewhich aggressively insists uponits own castration-a fact which Nurse Bessie unwittinglyacknowledges when she exclaims thatJane is a "little sharpthing"who had "got quite a new way of talking"[40]. The knifelike edges of Jane's discourse cut the chimerical threads suturingthe wound of the subject together, and it is precisely this blunts. Sucha homogenizing heterogeneoussharpnesswhichAlthusserian interpellation tendencyis exhibited,for example, by CatherineBelsey, whose work parallelsSpivak's in that it borrowsheavily from Althusser'stheoryof the text. According to Belsey, the process of interpellationinsures that the classic realist presentationof marriageoften generatesa new set of subject positions within the text which evoke closure and its concomitantqualitiesof order,definitiveness, and stability [75]. In her view, then, the marriageof Janeand Rochesterwould close off the threatto subjectivityand establisha unitaryharmonywithinits new signifying relationships[76]. However, if one examinesJaneandRochester'smarriagewith a suturingeye ratherthan and an interpellative"I,"the subjectpositionsgeneratedfail to supportBelsey's argument of Althusser. illustratethe textual distortionsthatarise from an uncriticalappropriation The Madwomanin the Attic figuresas centrallyin theconcealingprocessesof suture for the fire which Berthasets severely impairs as she does in the addressof interpellation, the scope of Rochester's determiningmasculinegaze and lays barethe extent of herown woundedness-her madness, imprisonment,and sexual rejection. However, the blindness which Rochester suffers as a result of Bertha's action paradoxicallyreverses the illusion of unity producedby suture,for ratherthan concealing subjectivity,it instead

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preventsRochesterfrom the pleasureof "seeing"Jane,or any woman for that matter,as a fetishized object. "'My seared vision! My crippled strength!,'he murmured regretfully" [449]. Only when Rochester's inabilityto recognize othersmetamorphosesinto a recognition of his own otherness does a marriagewith Jane become possible: "It was mournfulindeed, to witness the subjugation of thatvigorousspirit.... He sat in his chair ... the lines of now habitualsadnessmarkinghis strongfeatures"[444]. Jane's narrative presence once again edits our sensibilities by directingthem to the lines of the narrative frame. Unlike the "harsh"lines which Brocklehurstinstalled in the phallic chair of an imaginaryomnipotence,Rochester's lines framehis position throughpartialvision and of RochesterandJane,then,andnot the subjectedimpotence. The wounded"affirmities" and of their imperialist unitaryidentities, allow Jane to declare in that all too triumph familiarline: "Reader,I marriedhim." In opposition to Spivak's claim that the "native"Berthais sacrificed "as an insane animal for her sister's consolidationthroughmarriage" [251], Jane affirms that she and Bertha share a subject position marginalizedthroughdifference: "but how could she [Mrs.Reed] really like an interloper,not of her race, and unconnectedwith her, afterher husband'sdeath,by any tie? It must have been most irksometo find herself boundby a pledge to standin the stead of a parentto a strangechild she could not love, hard-wrung intruded on herown family group"[16]. This andto see an uncongenialalienpermanently attests of herselfas "anuncongenialalien"who is notof Mrs.Reed's "race" condemnation to Jane's Self-difference ratherthanSelf-uniqueness,for as HenryLouis Gates remarks in "Writing'Race' and the Difference It Makes,""race"has become a tropeof ultimate articulation of the distancebetween and irreducibledifference in its seemingly arbitrary of particular belief systems [5]. Jane's discourse cultures,linguistic groups,or adherents since conventionallyshe andMrs.Reed belong to the clearly embodies this arbitrariness, same "racial" pool-that of the white English female. Thus, the tropeof "race"not only but also demandsthatone read evokes Jane's subjectionin, yet resistanceto, patriarchy, Jane and Berthaas oppressedratherthanopposed sisters. If this is the effect of Bronte's text, one must ask how a feminist readingcan make the invisible woman-Bertha Mason-visible, especially since her suicide in Jane Eyre In "Three seems to cast herlot with all theotherof ourculture'spolitically"disappeared." Women's Texts,"for example,Spivakcommentsthatin the fictive Englandof Jane Eyre, of her "self' into the Other,set fire to the house Berthamust act out the transformation and kill herself so thatJane might become the feminist individualistheroine of British fiction [251]. She repeatsher conflationof masculineand feminine subjectpositions by comparingthe functionof Bertha'sdeathto sati, theHinduritualof burningwidows alive and on the funeralpyres of theirhusbands: "JaneEyre can be read as the orchestration staging of the self-immolationof BerthaMason as 'good wife"' [259]. Or, Bertha-the good wife-sacrifices herselffor the good of herhusband-the white (fe)male. Spivak's attemptto expandthe frontiersof thepolitics of readingnot only falls shortin its portrayal Berthaonly as a victim, of theparticular oppressionof women, butalso, by characterizing fails to detect a far more subversivepolitics embeddedwithin her violent act. At firstglance, it seems difficultto posit anydirectmeaningfor Bertha'ssuicide since we only hear of it secondhand,throughthe butler's eyewitness account as recountedby remotenessfromBertha'sdeathseems to parallelGilbertandGubar's Jane. Thisnarrative erasureof her life, for both deny us access to the independentreality of the woman from the colonies. However, if we locate Bertha's act within the largercontext of women's suicide, a counter-reading emergeswhich grantsBerthaan integrityabsentin bothGilbert and Gubar'sand Spivak's constructionof her. In a study of women and madnesswhich remainsprovocativein spite of its fifteenyear publicationlapse, Phyllis Cheslernotes that"mencommit actions; women commit gestures.... 'Manfully,' men kill themselves,or others-physically. Women attemptto

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kill themselves physically far more often thanmen do, and fail at it more often. Suicide is not an apolitical occurrence. . ." [48]. Because physical action-even the selfdestructiveaction of takingone's own life-is very difficult for women, they tend more towardpsychic andemotionalself-destruction [49]. Female suicideattemptsfunctionnot so much as calls for help as "theassigned baringof the powerless throat,signals of ritual readinessfor self-sacrifice [emphasismine]"[49]. Chesler'sanalysisof women's suicide seems very close attemptsas a sign of theirpowerlessness andpsychological martyrdom to Spivak's descriptionof Bertha's death as a sign of the ritual self-sacrifice necessary when women become sati. However, the fact thatBerthacommits ratherthanattemptssuicide moves her into a very differentposition from the one just described;accordingto Chesler,women who succeed at takingtheirown lives outwit and rejecttheir"feminine"role at the only price possible: their deaths. We do not know what Berthashouted at Rochester before she leapedfromThorfield' s roof, butwe couldconjecturethatherinsistenceuponthe violent of bothThomfieldandherselfconstitutesan actof resistancenotonly physical destruction in a patriarchal culturebut also as a colonized object. Thatthis her a woman to statusas of Bertha exists at least interpretation implicitlywithinthe text is supported by Alexander of Jane Eyre for the BBC. In his screenplay, Baron's meticulouslyfaithfuldramatization Bertha (Joolia Cappelman)sensationally leaps to her death-but not before she faces Rochester (Timothy Dalton) and screams: "I hate you! I hate you!" This directencounterbetweenoppressedandoppressorgrantsBertha'sself-destructive acta defiantsubversivenesswhich it lacks in Bronte's text. In his studyFrantzFanon and the Psychology of Oppression,Hussein AbdilahiBulhancommentsthatcolonialism requiresthatthe colonized deeply fear her own biological death,for the fear of physical death not only hindersthe possibility of freedom, but also productiveand meaningful living [122]. Those who submit to oppressionmay continue to breathe,eat, and sleep: however, they only exchange one form of death for another.This is so "Unfortunately, because as they submitto oppressionand preservebiological life, they invariablysuffer a degree of psychological and social death" [122]. Indeed, he states, the more the oppressed seek physical survival, the more their oppression deepens. It seems quite plausible, then, thatBertha's self-imposed deathtragicallyassertsresistanceratherthan defeat and providesa presence which countersthe invisibility imposed upon herboth by Gilbertand Gubar'shermeneuticsof suspicionand by Spivak's contentionthatshe dies on the pyre of feminist individualism. Like plain Jane's heterogeneity,Bertha's death maims the wholeness of the text with a visible wound which we can neithersutureover nor erase within the white (fe)male palimpsest. WORKS CITED Catherine. Critical Practice. London: Methuen, 1980. Belsey, Smith. London: OxfordUP, 1973. Bronte,Charlotte.Jane Eyre. Ed. andintro.Margaret Bulhan, Hussein Abdilahi. FrantzFanon and the Psychology of Oppression. London: Plenum, 1985. Chesler, Phyllis. Womenand Madness. New York: Doubleday, 1972. Chodorow,Nancy. TheReproductionof Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender. Berkeley: U of CaliforniaP, 1978. Derrida,Jacques. "WhiteMythology: Metaphorin the Text of Philosophy."Marginsof Philosophy. Trans.Alan Bass. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1982. Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. 1947. New York: RandomHouse, Vintage, 1952. Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, WhiteMasks. Trans.CharlesLam Markmann.New York: Grove, 1967. Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. "The Blackness of Blackness: A Critiqueof the Sign and the Signifying Monkey."BlackLiteratureandLiteraryTheory.Ed. HenryLouis Gates, Jr. New York: Methuen, 1984.

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. "Writing'Race' and the Difference It Makes." CriticalInquiry12 (1985): 1-20. Hooks, Bell (GloriaWatson). Ain't I a Woman: Black Womenand Feminism. Boston: South End, 1981. Smith. But Someof UsAre Brave: Black Hull, GloriaT., PatriciaBell Scott, andBarbara Women'sStudies. Old Westbury,NY: Feminist, 1982. Hurston,Zora Neale. Mules and Men. 1935. Preface Franz Boas. Intro. Robert E. Hemenway. Bloomington: IndianaUP, 1963. Johnston, Claire. "Towardsa Feminist Film Practice: Some Theses." Movies and Methods. Ed. Bill Nichols. Berkeley: U of CaliforniaP, 1985. Kuhn,Annette. Women'sPictures: Feminismand Cinema. London: Routledge, 1982. Lorde,Audre. "EqualOpportunity."OurDead behindUs: Poems. New York: Norton, 1986. Mulvey, Laura. "VisualPleasureand NarrativeCinema." Film Theoryand Criticism: IntroductoryReadings. 3rd ed. Ed. Gerald Mast and MarshallCohen. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1985. Pudovkin,Vsevolod. "OnEditing."Film Theoryand Criticism:IntroductoryReadings. Ed. GeraldMast and MarshallCohen. Oxford: OxfordUP, 1985. andtheFilm System." Screen 17 (1976/77): 85-104. Cited Rose, Jacqueline."Paranoia in Silverman235. Silverman,Kaja. The Subjectof Semiotics. Oxford: OxfordUP, 1983. ed. Home Girls: ABlackFeministAnthology.New York: KitchenTable Smith,Barbara, Press/Womenof Color Press, 1983. In Studies: DeconstructingHistoriography." Spivak, GayatriChakravorty."Subaltern Other Worlds: Essays in CulturalPolitics. New York: Methuen, 1987. Walker, Alice. In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens: WomanistProse. San Diego: Harcourt,1983. Williams, Sherley Anne. Dessa Rose. New York: Morrow, 1986.

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