Scenes of Unveiling: Reading Sex Writing in Charlotte Brontë

Erika Kvistad


This paper asks what approaches to sex writing might tell us about critical readers’ ways of relating to texts. When we read and interpret writing about sex, there is often an implied and unspoken missing link between reader and text, a tendency to disavow our own sexual investments and our own perspectives of desire. The paper explores scenes of sexual revelation and unveiling in Charlotte Brontë’s novels, where characters reveal their desires to each other and tacitly or explicitly negotiate sexual roles, and considers the processes of self-unveiling involved in their interpretation. What are the risks and the joys of this kind of intimate reading – for the characters, and for the reader? What are the missing links between desire and critical interpretation, and could we allow one to become a form of the other?


Sexuality, sexual power dynamics, Charlotte Brontë, reader response

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ISSN: 2202-2546


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