Abstract: The Looker-on: Lucy Snowe's Strategies of Narrative Self-Definition
Mentor: Dr. Anthony Flinn, English
Through Lucy Snowe, the narrator of her last novel, Villette, Charlotte Bronte demonstrates how the narrator
can use the narrative as a means of asserting her autonomous presence in the world. Unlike most narrators, Lucy
uses diversion and obscurity as a means of revelation. Lucy's narrative is a carefully constructed interaction
which creates a balance between allowing us to know and understand her while at the same time regulating the
nature and extent of that knowledge. Although Lucy has been deemed by many critics as unreliable in her post
as narrator, this assessment is arguably not the case. While it is true that she often withholds information from
the reader, she does so according to a deliberate system and for a deliberate purpose. For this reason her acts of
withholding, in addition to other narrative strategies she employs, are not qualities of unreliability but rather
components of a carefully constructed system by which Lucy creates an identity while also asserting her ability
to do so.
15th McNair Conference and Graduate School Fair: Nov. 3-5, 2006
10th Annual Research & CW Symposium, EWU, May 16,2007
phone: 509.359.6200 (campus operator)
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