“Fettered Amongst Our Hands:” Images of Slavery in Jane Eyre

“Jane Eyre” is a seminal piece of feminist fiction. Jane’s conflict is the conflict of any woman in a patriarchal society: the battle for true independence and freedom in the confines of a society that denies her any avenue to reach it. The central conflict of the novel with Bertha Mason, Rochester’s “mad” wife, isContinue reading ““Fettered Amongst Our Hands:” Images of Slavery in Jane Eyre”

The Science of the First Science Fiction Novel: Why We Get the “Monster” So Wrong

The Frakenstein’s Monster you are familiar with is not the one Mary Shelley envisioned on that stormy night in 1816. The green, groaning patchwork of limbs is a stitched-together “Frankenstein” of a century’s worth of artistic license, formed by the illustrators, directors, and screenwriters who reanimated the novel over the last two centuries. The visionContinue reading “The Science of the First Science Fiction Novel: Why We Get the “Monster” So Wrong”

Elizabeth Siddal: Beyond Ophelia

Long, high noses, and plump, rounded lips. Curled, lush hair and long, sensuous necks. Gowns folding over themselves, loose and ethereal in decadent Arthurian and Grecian scenes. Striking, a demanding kind of beauty. These were the divine muses — women both commanding and ethereal — of the Pre-Raphaelite painters — women embodying goddesses, saints, legends.Continue reading “Elizabeth Siddal: Beyond Ophelia”

“The Queens of Hysterics”

Marie “Blanche” Wittmann is a name you probably have not heard, although you may know her face. “Blanche” features, among a throng of famous psychologists and neurologists, in the painting Une leçon Clinique à La Salpêtrière (A Clinical Lesson at La Salpêtrière) as the ideal hysterical woman. Her eyes half-closed, collapsed into the arms ofContinue reading ““The Queens of Hysterics””