Date of Completion

Spring 5-8-2011

Thesis Advisor(s)

Sarah Winter

Honors Major



English Language and Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Literature in English, British Isles


Critics of Charlotte Brontë’s “Villette” note that Lucy Snowe, the mysterious and provocative narrator, fulfills two initiatives: providing interpretation through her obsessive observant analysis of other characters, and provoking the reader’s interpretation in the reader by her deliberate omission of any information pertaining to her past and unexplained lapses in intelligence and sanity. “Villette” is often associated Sigmund Freud’s “Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria” because of the similarity between the two young, likely traumatized, female protagonists and the possibility of mapping characters from one narrative onto the other. However, the complex interaction between the two texts allows the reader to answer questions that the individual texts leave unanswered. By examining “Dora” in light of “Villette,” one can conclude that Dora suddenly terminates treatment because she has, like Lucy Snowe, cured herself of any past trauma. Reading “Villette” while also considering “Dora” reveals Lucy Snowe’s duality of nature; her narration has qualities of Dora’s traumatized yet deliberately mysterious discourse and, gradually increasing as time progresses, qualities of Sigmund Freud’s analytical narrative. This transition allows Lucy to cure herself, as she learns to observe others without projecting her own experience or personality onto them. It is by the same transition from being the subject of analysis to actively taking part in her own interpretation that Dora is able to cure herself.