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1 THANKS BEING RETURNED: GRATITUDE IN MANSFIELD PARK HEARTSEASE AND JANE EYRE By ABRA GIBSON A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2010
2 2010 Abra Gibson
3 To Mercedes April and my sister Sara
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank Pamela Gilbert and Judy Page for their guidance on this project. I would also like to express my gratitude to Mercedes Martinez and Sara Williams for their unwavering and honest support, and to Beth Anne Blue for pushing me to jump.
5 TABLE OF CONTENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ .. 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ..................... 6 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ ...... 7 2 MANSFIELD PARK ............. 14 3 HEARTSEASE OR THE ................................ ................................ ................................ 23 4 A REVERSAL OF FORTUNE: GRATITUDE IN JANE EYRE ................................ 33 5 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ........ 45 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ............................... 48 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ............................ 50
6 Abstrac t of T hesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of M aster of A rts THANKS BEING RETURNED: GRATITUDE IN MANSFIELD PARK HEARTSEASE AND JANE EYRE By Abra Gib son May 2010 Chair: Pamela Gilbert Major: English This project examines the function of gratitude as a social control in Mansfield Park and Jane Eyre In these novels, the c ourtship and marriage plots reveal how the no tion of gratitude as feminine or feminizing contributed to its force and efficacy as a mechanism for behavioral control. Jane Eyre is gratitude results in a marriage that departs drastically from the kind of marital power structure commonly depicted in Victorian fiction. ure as well as his commentary on the rise of an ameliorationist attitude toward slavery in the late eighteenth century. I have appropriated his fundamental questions of how and whether gratitude was to be earned, and also explore his assertions about dif ferences between the quality and power of the gratitude of fictional heroines as compared with that of the character of the grateful slave.
7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION In his recent works 1 George Boulukos explores the literary trope of the grateful slave as it developed during the eighteenth century in Europe and evolved in the antebellum literature of the United States. He refutes the modern interpretation of many Mansfi eld Park slave trade derives from a sense of shame. Boulukos convincingly asserts that many novels, and this passage in particular, actually espouse amelioration ( Silence 362). In his recent book The Grateful Slave be regrettable, but at the end of the eighteenth century, attitudes arose that the English ry, did not oppose the institution itself, only the manner in which it was practiced: they believed that the humane treatment of slaves would encourage productivity and reproductivity among them. Clearly, amelioration was a moral middle ground between sla very and abolition, and the projected improvements in slave productivity were expected as the result of the was born out of sentiment, and that further: [T]he trope depends for its success on two key assumptions: first, that plantation slavery will continue in a brutal form that makes the humane just to accept slavery, but to embrace it, to be overwhelmed by ecstatic gratitude toward someone who continues to claim mastery over them. As if 1 The Grateful Slave
8 grateful slave novels reject the constraints of gratitude, not only for themsel ves, but also for their white servants. ( Grateful 3 4) qualitatively differ ent, and I quote again at length: [H]eroines are put in the position of falsifying their emotions due to the obligations of gratitude, which are explicitly contrasted to deeply felt, genuine forms of emotion. In other words, the untrammeled feelings of gr ateful slaves contrast with the rational independence of white men, but also with the deeper, more genuine feelings, the much more complex psychic interiority, of white women in late century fiction. ( Grateful 26) That complexity allows a more in depth an alysis of the negotiation of gratitude and power than the grateful slave stories. Moreover, this difference notwithstanding, certain resemblances exist, as elements of the eighteenth century grateful slav e narrative are echoed in heroine literature (by whi ch I mean to refer to popular fiction with a female protagonist, often focusing specifically on her courtship experiences) in the nineteenth century. Further, heroine gratitude does not always stem from falsification of emotion. Boulukos uses the example Politics 26). I find, however, that this proposal functions differently: it r eveals that Fanny cannot feel such gratitude to him precisely because her gratitude is already more appropriately directed at Edmund Bertram, who Boulukos is correct in a rings hollow, it is her honest gratitude toward Edmund that directs her behavior. Rather than distinguishing Fanny from the grateful slave trope, her refusal to abandon her true
9 benefactor rei nforces the necessity of her gratitude. Therefore, as I will argue, while nineteenth century heroine fiction does not include gratitude as a constant, identifying trope, examples exist in which gratitude functions similarly to its role in the grateful slav e novels. Mansfield Park Heartsease Jane Eyre (1847), gratitude and its shifting role are critical to the development of the heroine and subsequently the character s whose lives she affects. The similarities of plot in these n ovels are well established in the work of Kathryn Sutherland and Barbara Dunlap 2 : a young heroine must learn to navigate the social realm of a higher class family despite not being accepted as a full member on the basis of her lower class roots. In each of these works, moreover, the the young girl marries into the family and must prove herself ready to joi n its society and fulfill the role that the family/social dynamic provides for her. gr ateful heroine who learns to direct her gratitude as her patron becomes increasingly kind; the second, a working class heroine and her middle class double who experience gratitude in extremely class ways; and the third, a character who questions the nature of gratitude itself, and creates her own rules for it s negotiation Each of these novels 2 ELH Vo l. 59, No. 2 (Summer, 1992), pp. 409 Heartsease and Mansfield Park.
10 depicts women with divergent understandings of the power roles between themselves role in the grateful slave narratives, noting that: Slaves, like servants, children, wives, predictably are expected to be grateful. The key questions are, first, whether or not slave gratitude is understood as an inevitable debt, or as being earned by t benevolence; second, whether or not slave gratitude differs from that of children, wives, servants, and subjects; and, finally, whether slave gratitude undergoes the same process of reevaluation, or instead takes a unique and therefore e specially revealing course. (21) In the texts this study considers, heroine gratitude is subject to similar inquiries and stressors. Ultimately the main difference is that the gratitude of the heroine is directed to another object than the master/lover, and that object is usually God. The heroine is typically grateful to God for the lover, whereas the slave may be grateful to both the master and God. Further, when the heroine is grateful to the lover, it is for seeing her in a way that, though supposedly of the spirituality in her personality. Somehow, individuality and conformist religiosity are conflated. The sentimental basis of amelioration links the movement with the feminine, as sentiment ality and emotion were strongly feminized traits. In some cases, the mere presence of women in some colonial settings was presumed to provide an impetus for kindness to slaves. As Hilary McD. Beckles notes in a discussion of the eighteenth century writing women tended towards the gradual amelioration of slave relations. Conversely, it has been suggested that the shortage of white women in eighteenth century 71). For
11 believed to prompt men to improve the conditions of their slaves as well as their plantations. As mentioned above, the expectatio n of gratitude was not restricted to the presence of an ameliorationist slaveholder. The tension Boulukos illuminates between gratitude as inevitable, or as resultant from kind treatment, exists in the novels this study will examine. Amelioration is a fact or in Mansfield Park ; Sir Thomas is presented as an ameliorationist slave holder, and Edmund is depicted from the outset as caring similarly for Fanny in her dependent status. Amelioration is much more problematic in Jane Eyre ty shift after their engagement causes revulsion and fear in Jane. In Heartsease Violet Martindale experiences no increasing kindness from her negligent husband, while her sister in law Theodora learns that kindness had always been waiting for her gratefu l acceptance. gratitude in that it cannot be reevaluated, or renegotiated, is also replicated in these books. That is to say, I assert that even within this small selection o f white European women, some of them are incapable of reevaluating the terms of their gratitude. The Italian Belinda and even Mansfield Park to prove that gratitude is not acceptable as a basi s for marriage (26). However, if the condition of m arital life is divorced from the contract of marriage, as the c hronic reliance on slave labor is from the slave trade, we can see that gratitude is indeed expected from the women in these novels. For examp le, Fanny
12 reading one being its role as a refusal to locate her romantic attachment in the world of financial contracts. Fanny must not be grateful for an offer of mere material comforts and class privilege, but she must be grateful for an offer of sincere affection, and that gratitude is critical to her love for Edmund. The conditions in which gratitude was appropriate began to shift during the late eighteenth century, and the role of religion as object, briefly mentioned above, is caught to his master for protection and nurture and the master was grateful to his master for service, and all masters and servants were grateful to God for his bountiful and nd women shared the position of exclusion from the 25). In Heartsease ude is not complicated by having any actual object, or any of study will examine. In short, this study will discuss the ways in which these novels show that heroine fict ion, while in some cases as different from grateful slave fiction as Boulukos asserts, examination of these novels reveals that true gratitude serves to legitimate dominance on the part of the object, and that when gratitude is not truly felt, dominance is not
13 appropriate. I will also examine the role of amelioration in this process, conside ring the ways it both supports and undercuts the power of the dominant male figure.
14 CHAPTER 2 CE: FANNY PRICE AND MANSFIELD PARK Mrs. Norris had been talking to her the whole way from Northampton of her wonderful good fortune, and the extraordinary degree of gratitude and good behavior which it ought to produce, and her consciousness of misery was therefore increased by the idea of its being a wicked thi ng for her not to be happy. Jane Austen, Mansfield Park From the start, Fanny Price understands that her life at Mansfield Park must be experienced from a specific point of view, as determined by her extended family. Mrs. Norris, the Prices, and the Bertrams all expect Fanny to be grateful for her improved circumstances, and that this gratitude is to override any other subjective emotions that she might experience. The family at the estate (the Bertrams and Mrs. Norris) find attempts to assuage them by helping her write to her brother. the expectations of the family: it provides something immediate for which she may feel truly Norris thought with greater satisfaction of their benevolent plan; and it was pretty soon decided between them, that though far from clever, she showed a tractable disposition, attention gains her a degree of belonging and acceptance at the estate. M is simultaneously seen as an investment. This conflation of benevolence and self
15 interested gain mirrors the moral contradiction that problematized English colonialism and slav Sir Thomas (508) and as infuriating as a cargo of sugar (or of slaves) refusing to be sold to the highest attacks on th e slave trade rather than slavery itself (Gould 12 42), the discourse at the time allowed indeed encouraged a disarticulation of the slave trade (although not slavery itself) and colonialism, with the result of facilitating the moral redemption of the larg Politics 367). Thus, removing the economic element from slavery allowed it to be considered as a philanthropic project to enlighten the masses. Further, that enlightenment, based on intellect and reason, devalued the emotional an d along with it, the moral as feminine and irrational. Boulukos notes that the and familiar distinction of guilt between owning slaves and trading them at the turn of the nineteenth century helps make sense of the political situation in which abolition of the slave trade (1807) was politically feasible a quarter Politics 367). Just as the acute act of buying slaves was treated differently than the chronic condition of slave ownership, Mansfield P ark depicts a divide between the economic the possibility of being forced into a new servitude to a master who will be less kind than Sir Thomas and Edmund. Further,
16 Portsmouth. Though he presents the plan to Fanny as a nother of the acts of kindness she stores up, the narrator clarifies: [H]is prime motive in sending her away, had very little to do with the propriety of her seeing her parents again, and nothing at all to do with any idea of making her happy. He certainl y wished her to go willingly, but he as certainly wished her to be heartily sick of home before her visit ended; and that a little abstinence from the elegancies and luxuries of Mansfield Park, would bring her mind into a sober state, and incline her to a juster estimate of the value of that home of greater permanence, and equal comfort, of which she had the offer. (250) becomes a judicial murder or a domestic equivalent to the colonial practice of starving promising way of being starved, both mind and body, into a much juster value for Mr. Of course, this plan is paradoxically subverted by the more g enuine acts of kindness Edward performs for Fanny. Despite the fact that Fanny keenly feels the loss of contention, could be ever supposed wanting, good sense and good breeding supplied its pleasu
17 her with better care than Henry Crawford would. When Crawford comes to visit her at Portsm have more good qualities than she had been wont to suppose. She began to feel the possibility of his turning out well at last; but he was and must ever be completely unsuite ameliorative efforts toward Fanny have provided a contrast against which she may In fact, her time at Portsmouth only intensifies her longing for Mans field Park specifically rather than the class life Sir Thomas mistakenly believes she experiences there, which he believes she will generalize to her potential life with Crawford. But Fanny misses her life at Mansfield because she believes herself to be of importance fill in the household; when Fanny returns from her exile to the now tumultuous ough for illment in her relationships at Mansfield to her sense of alienation in the Portsmouth house, rather than contrasting the material comforts of each home. Not only does Fanny resist leaving the Bertram family, but her gratitude and loyalty show Sir Thomas t
18 attempts to ameliorate her suffering, only render her too grateful and devoted a servant to be traded away. Fanny insists it must be false, though she instantly knows the report is true, effectively her biological father is further proof that her loyalty now lies with Mansfield Park; her shame and even despair a re now tied to the Bertram name rather than the Price name. Though she resists essentially being traded away from Mansfield because of the fulfillment her assistance there provides her, her position is far from easy. Still, Fanny never demurs over the exha ustion she often experiences as a result of her domestic service. After Lady Bertram and Mrs. Norris employ her in cutting and delivering roses on a particularly hot day, she lies hidden on a sofa nursing the resultant headache. When she reveals her locati provoking speech, F anny has silently joined the other women in sewing. The other women reveal the reason for her fatigue to Edmund, who brings Fanny a glass of (54). We can easily believe Fanny experiences a variety of feelings in this scene; as she share in her indisposition; for she had been feeling neglected, and had been struggling
19 against disco Clearly, only the addition of gratitude to her pain, exhaustion, and indignance elicits her tears. Fanny str uggles to reconcile her religious morality with her social and material reality, both of which predicate from her position of helpless dependence. Edmund provides the perfect site for this reconciliation: he is the second son of a wealthy landowner, and he plans to join the clergy. His status as second son eliminates the question of economic motives on her part, and his religious vocation grants Edmund the moral voice for the estate (itself a feminized position), while the patriarch Sir Thomas emblemizes th relationship with Fanny: because their bond is underwritten by their shared faith and femi nization encode him as nonthreatening, affirming for Fanny that he will be a kinder master/husband than Henry Crawford. His religion and his kindness feminize Edmund, and, more interestingly, so does his attraction to Mary Crawford. Mary is an extremely ac tive and therefore extremely problematic Bertram Rushworth encapsulates her unfeminine energy, her lack of discretion, and her failure to adhere to the patriarchal morality held by Sir T homas. Edmund tries to downplay the significance of her energy because of his desire for her, but he is horrified by her blunt discussion of the affair, and can no longer minimize her flaws. Edmund lectures Mary quite strictly for her immorality r in which she considered the
20 and immediately (and repea tedly) unburdens himself to Fanny in a manner reminiscent more of Marianne Dashwood than any male character in Austen (311). The genuine pain Mary causes him shows Fanny his vulnerability, and his openness in discussing it with her assures Fanny that she h as the power to comfort him in return for the kindness he has shown her. presence only h ighlights the fact that they are both essentially dependents of the contributions to the family, and calling Fanny ungrateful at any sign of resistance. Though not the on ly character to accuse Fanny of ingratitude, Mrs. Norris is unique as the only character to do so from a similarly dependent position, and therefore subject to the same criticism. Considered in this light, her behavior is easily recognized as an attempt t o divert attention from her own discontent, which, in the psychology of this reading, ultimately mandates, Mrs. Norris pursues her own interests within that framework, not his. Even her desires are his. In contrast, partly through her gratitude to Edmund, Fanny has she shares physical sensations with Edmund, and she has no other desires of her own. But
21 Mrs. Norris has, and in their pursuit, she challenges Sir Thomas and disrupts the peace auded of an office on which she had always depended, whether his arrival or his death were to be the thing unfolded; and was now trying to be in a bustle without having any thing to bustle about, and laboring to be important where nothing was wanted but tr anquility and Thomas is home to maintain order than when he is away. Sir Thomas finally realizes this, and the danger Mrs. Norris represents in contrast. Mrs. Norris lacks the slavish desire to please him that dread, gratitude, and respect better than Maria was owing, in some measure, to her having been less the darling of a degree of self educated Maria, and shares once Sir Thomas has proof of her disloyalty. Sir Thomas banishes Mrs. Norris from Mansfield as he had Fanny, but with different results: een sinking from the day of his relie approve the evil which produced such a good. (316) ves only relief in her wake.
22 grant Sir Thomas and Edmund authority over her. In Mansfield Pa rk the hierarchical nature of the power structures requires that dependents must feel gratitude to authorize the continuance of those structures, and that further, the gratitude must be deserved. Only when Fanny truly experiences gratitude and belonging d oes the reader feel can see that in Mansfield Park gratitude is not inevitable; or, if such gratitude exists, earned gratitude certainly takes precedence over it. B gratitude undergoes a process of reevaluation has a slightly more complex answer. Fanny is, in significant ways, renegotiating the terms of her gratitude. She proves that her loyalty makes her an asset to the Bertrams, and take s the place of a daughter in the general goodness of his intentions by her, deserve gratitude has shifted and decreased her role as alienated dependent; she is now family. In the other two novels to be discussed, this question yields different answers.
23 CHAPTER 3 RELIGION AND GRATITU HEA RTSEASE OR THE BROTH WIFE Though Boulukos specifically refers to heroines of late eighteenth century novels as distinct from grateful slaves, he uses works that treat both the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to contextualize his argument. Moreover, his use of Mansfield Park as a specific example of the differences between these heroines and grateful slave characters opens the door for a consideration of nineteenth century heroines. As we shall see, of the heroines we will examine, Violet Martindale 1854 Heartsease or t most closely resembles the grateful slave as Heartsease contains a secondary heroine in law, Theodora who exhibits a lack of emotional control and r eason that also character of the grateful slave ( Grateful 26). Heartsease borrows heavily from Mansfield Park ; the heroine is a virtuous working class girl selected from among numerous siblings to join a middle class household, and who marries the second son of that family. In this novel, however, that character, the bride Violet (ne Moss) Martindale, is able to guide her sister in law Theodora Martindale as Fanny was unable to help Maria Bertram. Violet and Theodora must follow different paths to gratitude because they begin from different classes, but the er status as the second heroine of the novel,
24 unlike Maria, whose defiance removes her from the novel and the family. The duality of these women as heroines complicates the novel: both Violet and Theodora are referred to in the full title Heartsease, or t h and it would be impossible to divorce worth. As the novel begins, Violet is already grateful, and keenly aware of her unfitness for her new role. One of her first conversations with her new brother in law John reveals that she has already made the same shift of allegiance that Fanny Price makes near the end of Mansfield Park : she in law indicated that such resentment were the correct feeling for her to dis play (20). Since she has now shown her gratitude to her husband by this display of allegiance, any conflict that Violet experiences derives from this sort of doubt of her worthiness to assume her newly designated role. Moreover, this conflict arises from her uncertainty of the correct object for her gratitude, which is complicated by class issues. During her initial meeting and reception assured manner of a school
25 t initially attempts to make Arthur the object of her gratitude, and this nervousness over social forms and class concerns is the result. this complication that her grat itude must negotiate. The temptation to set her middle class husband as the object of her working class viding her with a more appropriate object for that gratitude. As she tries to build relationships with the Martindale women soon after her precipitate marriage, she turns to Arthur for advice, but his advice is confusing and contradictory because of the co nflicts within his family, as well as his indifference to her plight: Arthur Martindale is not concerned with s as a source of familial discord: as Violet questions her own self effacing decision to unpack for herself rather than having a servant do it, Arthur remarks that: [S]he (Lady Martindale) never thinks people can help themselves. She was brought up to be w you get gentility notions; Theodora will never stand them, and will respect are enough of them my mother has two, and Theodora a French one to her own share. (35) which his desire that Violet should model her behavior in such a way as to placate Th
26 is devoid of actual advice on negotiating the pitfalls he points out to her. Arthur Martindale is, at best, an inadequate husband, regardless of the standard by which one judges the marital relationship. Arthur fails to provide social instruction, financi al or emotional support, respect, or companionship for his wife. Once the novelty her needs despite her sweet nature and tendency to self denial, he begins to neglect h er and to resent her mild requests. He cheerfully gives her a pittance with which to run 92). His nonsensical reassurance, taking care of her (ibid). Moreover, he is now her responsibility. suggest that Violet has little for which to be grateful. Certainly, the only benefit he provides is as an object of affection for her, however inexplicable that affection may be. Even his role as the conduit by which she improves her class rank is insignificant in this p otential societal advantages her marriage to Arthur provides. When the Martindale women fail to embrace her as a new member of the family, Violet feels strongly the lack of intimacy, but to a much lesser degree regrets the lack of social assistance usually
27 marrying Arthur did not guarantee her the benefits of increased class status, and further, her preoccupation with her role in the family dynamic rather than the larger socia l setting proves that Violet appreciates that the object of her gratitude must not be anything so clearly materially advantageous to herself as class power. atisfied demand for gratitude: the matriarch Mrs. Nesbit believes that desire to remain unmarried has incurred her wrath, and she bullies the Martindales by threatening t marriage to Violet disrupts the family because Mrs. Nesbit tries to rule her family in a highly class Fotheringham be cause she was the daughter of the local pastor, and after John refuses to marry, she expects to settle her property on Arthur, who has now married even further below himself than John had threatened. Her outrage at this marriage, and at not being consulted or even informed until after the fact, is directed at everyone in the family, but the women, whose relationships with Mrs. Nesbit are more frequent and less equal, are most affected by it. including her final powe r play: leaving helps to establish that this novel does not share Mansfield Park sitive relationships among her new upper class peers, many years pass before she develops intimacy with her new relatives, and these relationships are formed in an unusual manner: she earns
28 no point, however, does anyone suggest she ought to attempt to improve her situation, and none of the women suggest to Arthur that he should amend his behavior to her. Though Lord Martindale and John sneak Violet money and advice, and rebuke Arthur for his lengthy absences and financial greed, the general message of the family and the this clear. ry Crawford intimacy with John by increasing his sympathy for her situation. He provides as much support as possible within the context of their relationship; that is to sa y, he cannot provide the kinds of support a husband or other women would. His illness and avowed celibacy authorize a more intimate relationship than might otherwise be proper, as does the fact that the basis of their bond is the still mourned Helen. Throu gh their mutual contemplation of her loss, John provides Violet with a religious object for her gratitude. gratitude (96). The just adequate strength of these women is spiritually derived. While Violet has excessive gratitude, Theodora has none. She feels that her obligations to her family and her class thwart her desires, and she cha fes under
29 practically unmarriageable, focusing all her affections on her brother Arthur; and she tries to command all of his affection in return. Naturally, therefore, Th eodora resents sweetness as signs of weakness which will eventually bore Arthur. She justifies clinging must stand selfishness in resisting her obligations is translated into sacrifice for the family: Theodora presumes here to know the needs of the family better than Mrs. Nesb it or her father. This pride precludes any possibility of her experiencing gratitude for anything, for there is no one above her. Early in the novel, the reader sees that Theodora is in love with Percy Fotheringham. If Violet can be traced back to Fanny P rice, then Theodora may similarly descend from Emma Woodhouse: in her attempts to control others, she ignores even ield were but Percy Fotheringham to stay home from Richmond and her unsavory friend, Georgina, Theodora bristles. t of
30 3 As John does w men provide religion as the authority for these women, thus ensuring religion as an appropriate object of gratitude for them. In nineteenth century fiction, religion is often the answer to the complex question of who can and cannot teach, speak to, or even be seen together, especially across the gender divide. Issues of class, marital status, social standing, and race all contribute to this complexity. Among women, questions of contamina tion prevent a woman who has lost her social position from speaking to a woman in good standing, and can only serve as a warning, from a distance, of the consequences of incorrect action. Similar restrictions exist between a man and any woman who is not cl early his responsibility in the eyes of society: essentially, only the man who is financially responsible for the woman may speak to her about such intimate matters. For Violet, whose husband neglects her, his female relatives would normally be the next s ource of support. Since they, too, are neglectful of her, his brother John steps in, but must translate his advice to her through religion, and, further, not his own religiosity, but that of his dead fiance, be sister in law. Religion provides a conduit through which such information can safely be relayed. One reason that religion was so useful in these situations is its hierarchical structure, and therefore the position of women in that hierarchy, was much less complex than the social hierarchies these women had to negotiate. The circumstances for the 3 better than the mighty, and
31 that women functioned largely as commodities in Victorian society. Marriageable Violet. Marriages with clear financial advantage to the bride were problematic because they brought the financial element of courtship and marriage to the foref ront. Religion dictated that these women be sensible of their dependent position, and provided a focus for that dependence that elided the financial element. They might express gratitude for their care, but in an abstract way that aligns the feminine and t he female with spiritual rather than physical concerns. In Heartsease gratitude is facilitated by the intercession of religion between women and their quotidian needs. Though certain men with specific and strategic relationships to these women may guid e them by referring them to instructive scriptures, ultimately, even this remove is insufficient: Percy advises Theodora through the example of Violet, whom John advises through the example of the dead Helen, now an entirely spiritual being. Women must int erpret their own experiences through not only the religious framework of gratitude, but they are led there via the examples of better women. [U]nlike the protagonists of English no vels (Crusoe and Clarissa being classic examples), or the English colonists in the Americas, or indeed representations of servants in English households, the slaves in this their own independence or maturity, and never seek to renegotiate their Though Violet and Fanny do struggle with their gratitude, they, like these slaves, never attempt to alter the structure of their gratitude. The work of these women i s to interpret their experiences in such a way as to fit in that structure as revealed to them through
32 religion, the mouths of men, and the examples of other women. Other women, such as Theodora and, as we shall see, Jane Eyre, do indeed struggle with the very idea of gratitude after which Percy is only too happy to marry her quite a different path.
33 CHAPTER 4 A REVERSAL OF FORTUN E: GRATITUDE IN J ANE EYRE Jane Eyre was published in 1847, a few years before Heartsease completely at the mercy of her clearly hostile aunt. These factors as a context might lead new readers to expect Jane to be bound rather severely by gratitude, yet her relationship with gratitude is significantly more liberated than that of Fanny, Violet, or t not the Misses Reed and Master Reed, because Missis kindly allows you to be brough t up results from not fitting in at Gateshead, never believes she should change herself in that the night before Jane was to leave for Lowood School, Mrs. Reed had come to her of her history of events (42). Jane rejects the zealous gratitude of Violet Martindale, the more moderate gratitude of Fanny Price, and the pride curing gratitude of
34 all encompassing; she is grateful for whatever circumstances she finds herself facing; the positive are rewards, and the negative are opportunities not to grow, but to sacrifice she is grateful for what her society tells her her feminine sensitivity tells her he is not what he seems; but she is grateful for ultimately his love. Theodora learns that her class pride must not supersede her humble gender status, and finds an appropriately middle class object for her gratitude. vi framework, her struggle is with her inner awareness that she trusts her own views more. Jane at no point acts against her conscience to meet the needs of her society. She c does not feel responsible to protect other characters from themselves; she does n ot has no impulse to instruct them. Though she forms her own opinions of their cho ices, pride do not elicit tantrums like those Theodora indulges; they instead p rovoke a awareness and self love.
35 At Thornfield, Jane begins as a servant; unlike the other women we have discussed, Jane is a wage laborer. While her position as a governess is in many ways complicated by liminality t hat in some ways resembles that experienced by Violet and Fanny, her work in the household is officially recognized by society. Further, though on the surface, the kind of labor she is engaged in as a governess seems very similar to the labor of a female f amily member, whether wife, mother, or sister, it is actually quite different to the psychic labor with which Violet, Theodora, and Fanny actually struggle. While these women are struggling to make their value systems conform to those of their societies, J ane instead seeks a place in society where she is safe to operate under her own value system, and that place is in the spiritual kinship she feels with Rochester. Jane Eyre is a remarkably fruitful text. There seems to be little left to say about it; it h as been critiqued from post colonial, feminist, psychoanalytic, and religious resemblance to Mansfield Park and Heartsease is well established, and yet despite th ese parallels, Jane Eyre is rarely discussed in this context, presumably because of the significant difference in the circumstances in which Jane proves herself ready. As discussed above, Jane does not mold herself to fit the world she wishes to enter. She rather only wishes and ultimately consents to enter a world that fits her. For Jane, to be This self development is discussed symbolically in criticism and metaphor ically within the novel as finding or heeding her own voice. discourses evident in the novel. Jane literally grows into her voice: as a child, she is
36 horrified by her victory ov er her aunt Reed, who is unable to defend her abuse of Jane overcome this childhood discomfort with her own convictions is but one example of her rm her own subjectivity and to both control and experience her or with what it serves as a proxy for the finding of her ow her defiance of her aunt, though she is not yet ready to claim that voice (471 2). extrasensory experience o The religious basis of many of Jane Eyre eous reviews, including those of Matthew Arnold and Elizabeth Rigby, is well established. Gilbert and (338). This refusal, however, does not indicate a complete rejection of Christian values. The alternate forms of spirituality that Jane employs in creating her selfhood do not entirely replace Christian beliefs; Jane blatantly rejects the supernatural as a replacement for Christianity (543). Further, though Jane does claim her own voice and her own ascendency, she is listening for the will of God to be spoken in that voice. Just before convinced that it is
37 Christian forms, customs, and standards. If Jane does not accept these tradit ions, she exempts herself from traditional notions of gratitude, which is problematic because as our examinations of Mansfield Park and Heartsease reveal, gratitude operates to police female desire, and derives from Christian morality. Though she maintain s her faith and merges it easily with the other forms of spirituality Franklin discusses, Jane largely eschews the trappings of formal, organized Franklin notes these renunci ations, and contrasts then with the example of Helen Burns, Christian forgiveness, she never relinquishes her passion for life, as Helen instructs her. overwhelmed with distress, when life is so soon over, and death is so certain an entrance to happiness she imparted there was an alloy of inexpressible sadness. I felt the impression of woe as she spoke, but I could not tell whence it came; and when, having done speaking, she breathed a little fast and coughed a short cough, I
38 momentarily forgot my own sorr response, we can see that Jane resists this abnegation of life and passion. Though she them is clearly conflict own spirituality. This self possession is the difference between Jane and our other heroines. Though He len is clearly a safe, virginal source from which Jane may learn her role in society and to accept the burdens of this life cheerfully, Jane is not simply a blank slate on which Helen may inscribe these lessons. Jane does not suppress her desires, nor does she punish herself for not doing so. When Jane is cleared of the dishonesty of Fu incapable had been burning in my soul all day, and tears, hot and large, had con tinually been scalding my cheek; for the spectacle of her sad resignation gave me an intolerable promised reward of heaven. s Helen, Jane understands her no better than
39 punishment and death (501). favor of the religious. Eliza exerts rigorous self control to deny the pleasures of the flesh, while Helen exhibits no earthly desires at all. Although these women do not speak of gratitud e, their adherence to the formulas of the coming reward is clearly based on the same kind of scriptural rhetoric that directs Fanny, Violet, and finally Theodora. These women learn to be grateful for the paternal support of both the church and their husban development. Jane, on the other hand, determines for herself, through the merging of the spiritual and the religious, to be master of her own fate. In an early conversation, Helen cannot bear what it is your fate to be adult Jane does not meekly endure such chastisement, but rather decides that as long as she feels her behavior just, she need not heed criticisms nor those who would criticize her. We see this throughout the novel as she forgives Mrs. Reed, ignores the com ments of the Ingrams, yet asks Rochester to explain their midnight meeting to Mrs.
40 continues to care greatly about the feelings of others, but limits her concern to the opinions of those whom she respects. Her education and position as a governess empower Jane in ways that the other heroines in this study lack 4 Her time at Lowood has a complicated effect on her religiosity; though she leaves behind her fears of the ghosts of the red room and notions of vengeance, the multiplicity of spiritualities Franklin discusses emerge here. In the same speech in which Helen urges Jane to renounce he r human passions, she also provides Jane with a new conduit for the less institutionalized spirituality implicit in her fear of vengeful ghosts: Besides this earth, and besides the race of men, there is an invisible world and a kingdom of spirits: that wor ld is round us, for it is everywhere; and those spirits watch us, for they are commissioned to guard us; and if we were dying in pain and shame, if scorn smote us on all sides, and hatred crushed us, angels see our tortures, recognize our innocence (if inn ocent we be). 78 love. Jane translates these spirits into the voices that guid e her at pivotal moments in Lowood and saving her finally from the marr iage with St. John: it is the voice that she is 4 Just as formal religion has a positive relationship with gratitude in the novels discussed here, there is a negative relationship with education; Violet has none, Theodora and Fanny a light, feminin e education, and Jane has formal schooling.
41 along her path to self actualizat ion. actualization rather than of self control, gratitude still plays a role in her development. This gratitude and its function are logically different for Jane than for the other women discussed in this study, in that J ane determines for herself what she is grateful for. Jane is grateful to Rochester for his love, but not out of dependence on that love, rather, because his love is a form of respect and acknowledgement of what she already knows to be true: that she is wor thy of him. Further, she is grateful to God, not for the chance to prove her worthiness for the afterlife, but for showing her how to enjoy her life rather than renounce it. McCullo expressing gratitude (84). Gratitude functions similarly for the grateful slave, and even more fruitfull y for Fanny, Violet, and Theodora: by expressing their gratitude for the support of the male authority figure, each earns a formal admission into the family. Jane deploys her gratitude toward a different end: to put it simply, Jane is grateful for her own power to enact and deserve positive changes in her life, not for backhanded glory earned through suffering. Jane is not grateful for her place at Thornfield; or rather, the urther path, and the power of meriting the kindness which seemed so frankly offered me gratitude, she places that emotion in the service of her own path, and also expr esses a
42 desire for the power to render further gratitude unnecessary by proving herself worthy of respectful and kind treatment as, if you do your duty, you have a right to expect at his respecting to lavish the love of the whole heart, soul, appreciates praise that she has earned, not charity. This is not to say that Jane fails to recognize the occasional necessity of charity. When St. John takes her into his home, she accepts and appreciates that charity. However, her gratitude does not extend to granting him complete power over her. She refuses to disclo claim on my gratitude, and a claim, to a certain extent, on my confidence. I will tell you my own security, moral and ph for saving her life, she makes clear, both here, and ultimately in response to his has its limits. She is grateful to Rochester for his proposal; and here, she resembles Fanny Price most among the other heroines in this study: each is grateful to her fianc for acknowledging her worthiness. Similarly, Edmund and Rochester must suffer and learn t he error of their ways before they may marry. However, Jane proves herself to
43 follow his example and realize her value to the family. Jane Eyre makes clear that the Rochester family deserves no such gratitude, and refuses to grant any. Moreover, the novel subtly critiques the notion of such gratitude, and in fact, the most striking shift in gratitude gratitude most frequently of any character in the novel, and in significant ways. Initially, to foster, not to blight to earn gratitude, not to wring tears of blood name pronounced rather to demonstrate his power and wealth than to please her. engagement: he individuality; he seems only to know how to value her as a possession. Once they are engaged, he stops referring to her distinctive spiritual nature as he had; where he once called her a sprite, an elf, a capricious spirit, he now attempts to formalize their ne wrists, and load these fairy noble nature, the rhetoric of enslavement is clear, as is his focus on himself as its enforcer (310). He begins to speak of her delicacy as a ngelic rather than elfin, attempting to bring her spirituality within the recognizable constructs of the church, but
44 thing Rochester sees is an emblem of his own satisfactio n and pride, and understands that, if unchallenged, it will replace her permanently in his mind Further, Rochester identifies her as an object of economic exchange, just as Sir paring Jane li berty to them that are enslaved sets for their marriage: Jane requires that she be allowed to continue to earn her living as 4). Jane here informs Rochester quite clearly that he can expect no dependent gratitude from her; Soon thereafter, the revelation of his deception forces Rochester to accept that he deserves no gratitude; his wealth cannot compensate for his behavior in attempting to tha t, in the midst of judgment, he has remembered mercy. I humbly entreat my agai (547). Rochester, rather than Jane, experiences the gratitude that is the appropriate
45 CHAPTER 5 CONCLUSION Ultimately, the divide between the function of gratitude in the grateful slave novels and in heroine fiction of the nineteenth century is not as absolute as Boulukos claims. Certainly, these women changed their positions with relation to their masters by al status did not protect her from being focus of this study, serve as foils and wa rnings to the heroines. Their experiences, and ingratitude and disloyalty 5 Moreover, they remind us that, once accomplished, marriage as a legal and economic transact ion did not provide much more protection than the purchase of a slave. This is not to equate the life of even a fictional Victorian orphan with that of a slave; the heroines of these novels, like their living counterparts, had at least the semblance of cho choice was to select a husband toward whom she felt most truly grateful, which, even if that gratitude were for emotional rather than material reasons, inherently meant choosing the man t o whom she felt most indebted. The mere fact that these women exercise even a symbolic choice acknowledges their ability to reason, so in that way, their interiority transcends the unreasoning emotion to which grateful slaves are limited. 5 failure to evince gratitude can be explained either by her madness, or by a personal history such as the one provided for her Wide Sargasso Sea
46 Certainly Jane e xercises her reason, and more than any other heroine in this study, escapes the sort of helpless gratitude resultant from desperation. Even so, only after Jane and Rochester have both correctly negotiated their relationships to gratitude are they able to m Clearly, Rochester only reforms after punishment; his gratitude must be earned, the gratitude of hi s wife, and therefore she turns her gratitude toward God, and only give thanks or all this happiness! Oh! What seemed like thorns and crosses have all turned into blessing Jane Eyre ends with a reformed husband expressing gratitude for his wife, on whom he is physically and emotionally dependent; a complete reversal of both relationships in Heartsease Fann y in Mansfield Park so, and not a week earlier, Edmund did cease to care about Miss Crawford, and Grateful slave char acters must believe in their own inferiority, and express gratitude for the care of their owners by remaining loyal and working without complaint. In cases involving ameliorationist slave owners, gratitude for perceived kindnesses legitimates the practice of amelioration. In cases of slaveholders who do not believe in the humane treatment of slaves, gratitude is directed to God. Boulukos discusses the historical experiences of Olaudah Equiano, one of several black Atlantic writers who specifically refuses t
47 fact th at the now free Equiano directs his gratitude to God, that gratitude, which sustains him during his time of trial, is deployed on behalf of his torturer. Regardless of its object, gratitude simultaneously provides a psychological coping strategy and a form of social control. While fictional heroines have more varied opportunities and circumstances in which to negotiate gratitude than grateful slaves, an examination of the two together reveals the significant role of gratitude in maintaining power structures
48 LIST OF REFERENCES Austen, Jane. Mansfield Park New York: W. W. Norton, 1998. History Workshop 36. (1993): 66 82. Boulukos, George E. The Grateful Slave New York: Cambridge UP, 2008. --Novel 39.3 (2006): 361 383. Bront, Charlotte. Jane Eyre London: Avenel Books, 1985. Emmons, Robert A. and Michael E. McCullough. The Psychology of Gratitude Series in affe ctive science. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004. Nineteenth Century Literature 49:4 (1995): 456 482. Gilbert, Sandra M. and Susan Gubar. The Madwoman in the Attic : The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth Century Literary Imagination New Haven: Yale University Press, 1979. Mansfield Park Jane Austen: Women, Politics, and the Novel Chicago: U of Chic ago Press, 1988. Rpt. in Austen, Jane and Claudia L. Johnson. Mansfield Park : Authoritative Text, Contexts, Criticism 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998. Lew, Joseph. "That Abominable Traffic': Mansfield Park and the Dynamics of Slavery." History, Gend er, and Eighteenth Century Literature. Ed. Beth Fowkes Tobin. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1994. 271 300. Rpt. in Austen, Jane and Claudia L. Johnson. Mansfield Park : Authoritative Text, Contexts, Criticism 1st ed. New York: W.W. Norton, 1998. Stewart, Maaja A. Domestic Realities and Imperial Fictions : Jane Austen's Novels in Eighteenth Century Contexts Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1993. Yonge, Charlotte Mary. London: John W. Parker and Son, 1854.
49 Yonge, C harlotte Mary. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1855.
50 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Abra Gibson received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007. This thesis marks the May 2010 completion of her Mas ter of Arts in English from the University of Florida. Her other academic interests include postcolonial theory and gender studies. She intends to explore those interests as she continues her work in the Ph.D. program and the University of Florida.