The Silenced Voice of the Madwoman in the Attic: An Intertextual Analysis of Daphne du Maurier’s



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The Silenced Voice of the Madwoman in the Attic:

An Intertextual Analysis of Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.


By: Marlene Iona Sort

Supervisor: Jens Kirk

May 31st 2016

Table of Contents
Introduction…………………………………………………………………….. 3

Theory and Method…………………………………………………………….. 4



  • Defining Intertextuality………………………………………………… 4

  • Intertextuality According to Julia Kristeva…………………………….. 7

  • Intertextuality According to Roland Barthes…………………………… 8

  • Gérard Genette…………………………………………………………. 11

  • Genette´s Five Types of Transtextuality……………………………….. 14

  • Method ………………………………………………………………… 20

Mirroring the Story…………………………………………………………….. 21

  • Similarietis in Story……………………………………………………. 23

  • Differences in Story……………………………………………………. 25

  • Hypertextuality or Metatextuality?.......................................................... 31

The Gothic Tradition and Architextuality……………………………………… 31

  • The Gothic Tradition as Literary Genre………………………………... 32

  • The Male and Female Gothic…………………………………………... 35

  • Rebecca as a Product of the Female Gothic……………………………. 38

  • Discussing Architextuality………………………………………………43

Characters, Gender roles and the Bluebeard Myth……………………………... 44

  • The Contrasting Representations of Femininity………………………... 45

  • The Male as “Other”……………………………………………………. 50

  • The Bluebeard Myth……………………………………………………. 54

The Problematic Feminist Reading of Jane Eyre................................................. 56

Conclusion……………………………………………………………………… 62

Introduction

The highly esteemed, classical novel Jane Eyre (1847) by Charlotte Brontë has been read and loved for many years, by readers across the world. The novel stirred the literary waters at the time of publication, and has continued to do so ever since, for several reasons. The novel features a prominent representation of a female protagonist, who at the time contrasted the common representations of femininity in literature. A critique of the inequality existing between the sexes, as well as society’s hierarchical division, marked by the treatment of people from the lower social class, by the superior upper class, are featured as central topics in the novel. With Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë emphasized problematic societal structures in Victorian England, which marginalized certain groups, one of these being children. This was brought to the readers’ attention through Brontë’s use of the child’s point of view, when narrating the first part of the novel, concerning Jane Eyre’s childhood.

The above-mentioned topics are the ones most commonly emphasized in the interpretation of the novel, causing Jane Eyre to often be interpreted as a feminist novel. Numerous examples found in the novel support this traditional reading of the work, including Jane’s outspoken and defiant nature as the protagonist. In her characterization of Jane Eyre, Brontë creates a relatable protagonist, rejecting the convention of the beautiful and extraordinary heroine (Brontë, 289). Jane stands up for herself against Mr. Rochester, questioning his right to treat her as his inferior, due to her lack of family, fortune and social status (Brontë, 114). She is not afraid of being alone, if that is what she has to do, in order to be true to her own beliefs of what is morally acceptable. We see that in how she leaves the comforts of Thornfield, after discovering the secret of Mr. Rochester’s past (Brontë, 274). She ultimately returns to Mr. Rochester, but not before the circumstances have changed, due to the death of his first wife. These are a few among many aspects of the novel, which contribute to the portrayal of Jane Eyre as a strong and independent protagonist, advocating for the rights of primarily women, but also children and members of the lower social class of society. Consequently, Jane Eyre is traditionally viewed as a feminist work of literature, and has become an architext within feminist literature, as well as the genre of gothic literature.

Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca (1938), was originally upon its publication, viewed as merely a product of popular culture, aimed at an audience of female readers. It has since gained the status of quite a modern classic, further growing in popular opinion due to the 1940 Alfred Hitchcock film adaptation of the novel. Rebecca has, by many readers, been linked to Jane Eyre (Mettinger-Schartmann, 209), due to a significant mirroring of the basic plot elements of Jane Eyre, and the affiliation to Gothic literature, which the two novels share.

In the following we will seek to establish the connection between Jane Eyre and Rebecca, and explore the effect such a comparative reading of the two novels, consequently has on the traditional interpretation of Jane Eyre. We will approach the connection between the novels from an intertextual point of view, applying Genette’s theory of what he terms the five categories of transtextuality. Additionally we will explore the genre of Gothic literature, distinguishing between a male and a female Gothic. This will be done in the effort to prove that Daphne du Maurier’s novel Rebecca can be read as a feminist critique of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre.
Theory and Method

Defining Intertextuality

Within the field of literary studies, the term intertextuality has been discussed ever since it emerged in the 1960´s. There have been different views on the concept of intertextuality presented by various literary critics especially theorists within the fields of structuralism and post-structuralism. The term has been universally discussed, and is by now firmly established as well as regularly applied by literary critics. Although the term is widely recognized, and seems to cover the rather simple idea of literary texts existing in relation to one another within the field of literature, the term is not entirely unproblematic in its use. As well as several existing definitions of the term, there are also literary critics, who challenge the validity of the term altogether. Some of the challenges in working with the notion of intertextuality are presented by Graham Allen in his work titled Intertextuality (2000):
“Intertextuality, one of the central ideas in contemporary literary theory, is not a transparent term and so, despite its confident utilization by many theorists and critics, cannot be evoked in a uncomplicated manner. Such a term is in danger of meaning nothing more than whatever each particular critic wishes it to mean” (Allen, 2).
According to Allen, variations in the way of perceiving intertextuality, may cause literary critics to apply the term loosely, in whichever way each critic may find relevant for his/her work. This might be caused by the fact that several definitions of the term exist alongside one another; causing literary critics to experience differences of opinion between themselves, as to how the term is perceived and consequently how the term is worked with. Mary Orr, in her work also titled Intertextuality (2003), expresses her critical view of the term as follows:

“Intertextuality (as indeed also deconstruction and différance) is unequivocally a neologism. This kind of rhetorical coinage serves to fill a specific gap in pre-existing vocabularies, whether a whole concept or a nuance” (Orr, 3).


This statement does not only point out certain challenges posed by the idea of intertextuality itself, but also seems to critique the validity of the term altogether. The point Orr seems to be making, is that intertextuality is in fact not a new concept, but actually only a new term, refering to pre-existing theory or concept. The term intertextuality has been treated differently over the years by different theorists and thus recapitulated differently by Allen, Orr and others seeking to provide an overview of the concept. Intertextuality thus retains an important place in literary studies today, as summarized by Allen Graham:
“However it is used, the term intertextuality promotes a new vision of meaning, and thus of authorship and reading: a vision resistant to ingrained notions of originality, uniqueness, singularity and autonomy” (Allen, 6).
Intertextuality as a term, first surfaced during the 1960´s and Julia Kristeva, the Bulgarian- French literary critic, is commonly credited with coining the term (Edgar, 176). But that is not to say that the theory behind intertextuality did not exist previous to this. Kristeva’s writing draws extensively on the theories of Russian literary theorist Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin (1895-1975), the theories of whom she introduced into the French-speaking world through essays such as “Word, Dialogue and Novel” (1966) and “The Bounded Text” (1966-67), (Allen, 14). Graham Allen provides readers with an account of the origin of intertextuality, starting with the coinage of the term by Kristeva, strongly influenced by Bakhtin, as well as including other theorists who have contributed to the theory of intertextuality such as Roland Barthes, Gérard Genette and Michael Riffaterre. This view of the origin of intertextuality, as outlined by Allen, encompasses the most common view of the origin of intertextuality, as well as establishing which theorists have been most influential throughout this process. It should be noted, though, that the concept of intertextuality has been widely discussed by various literary theorists, within several fields of literary studies. Therefore, the contributors to the theoretic discussion of intertextuality are by no means limited to the ones mentioned here. Thus Mary Orr, as previously mentioned, challenges the traditional view of the origin of intertextuality, by attempting to highlight some of the alternative theoretic views on the topic of intertextuality (Orr, 7). According to Orr the contributions of several literary theorists, who evidently have provided important theoretical groundwork to what later through the writings of Julia Kristeva became known as intertextuality, have been overlooked due largely to the rather simple fact that their work has not been translated into English (Orr, 8). Therefore, Orr in Intertextuality sets out to provide “a sharper yet more diverse theoretical method and comparative framework than are offered by previous guides which gloss the ‘canonical’ theorists of intertextiality” (Orr, 13). In this statement, as in Orr’s work as a whole, there is an apparent critique of Graham Allen and others in their way of including only canonized theorists in their work on intertextuality. Although recognizing the validity of this argument, we will in the following nonetheless be working with the concept of intertextuality according to the traditional view of the origin of intertextuality. We will therefore study the origin and definition of intertextuality according to Julia Kristeva and Roland Barthes, before exploring Genette´s theory on intertextuality especially focusing on his five types of transtextuality.

Intertextuality According to Julia Kristeva

In seeking to define the theory of intertextuality in her essay “Word, Dialogue, and Novel” (1966), Kristeva introduces the theories of Russian literary theorist Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin. She explains how he questions the structural approach to analysis of narrative, placing him within the contemporary context of literary criticism: “Bakhtin was one of the first to replace the static hewing out of texts with a model where literary structure does not simply exist but is generated in relation to another structure” (Kristeva, 64). Bakhtin thus emphasized the importance of preexisting structures in connection with the analysis of current structures, which is a main factor, if not the very foundation of the theory of intertextuality. Before arriving at her definition of intertextuality, Kristeva investigates the status of the word. In this endeavor, she begins by defining the three dimensions of textual space as: 1. The writing subject, 2. The addressee and 3. Exterior texts:
“The word’s status is thus defined horizontally (the word in the text belongs to both writing subject and addressee) as well as vertically (the word in the text is oriented toward an anterior or synchronic literary corpus)” (Kristeva, 66).
We can see how the notion of intertextuality would be a natural extension of the view presented by Kristeva, of the word´s status according to the vertical axis, concerning the word´s connection to the larger literary corpus. Kristeva thus arrives at her definition of intertextuality:
“Any text is constructed as a mosaic of quotations; any text is the absorption and transformation of another. The notion of intertextuality replaces that of intersubjectivity, and poetic language is read as at least double” (Kristeva, 66).
This definition of intertextuality has since been perceived as the first definition of intertextuality. A more correct perception, however, would be that Kristeva gathered an idea, that previously existed theoretically, under a fixed term. The notion of intertextuality rests largely on the preexisting theories of Bachtin and other theorists alongside him. We can therefore not credit Kristeva with singly inventing the theory or concept of intertextuality, but must conclude that she, among others, has contributed to the theory. The coinage of the term itself, however, we can credit to Kristeva.
Intertextuality According to Roland Barthes

Another theorist who has been greatly discussed in relation to intertextuality is Roland Barthes. He deals with intertextuality in his, at the time, somewhat controversial essay “The Death of the Author” (1967). In this essay he seeks to establish a new understanding of the origin of texts, which contrasts the traditional view of the author. The traditional view of the author sees the author as the credited genius behind the production of a given literary text. As a necessary step in order to contradict this view, Barthes starts by defining his view of writing itself:


“(…) writing is the destruction of every voice, of every point of origin. Writing is that neutral, composite, oblique space where our subject slips away, the negative where all identity is lost, starting with the very identity of the body writing” (Barthes, 142).
In this definition of writing, Barthes presents a view that focuses on the product of writing in opposition to the process of writing. He sees the product of writing as a space where the identity of the author has no role. Consequently to this definition of writing, text and author become definitively separated. This view was at the time nontraditional, in fact it was in direct opposition to the way in which literary critics would traditionally seek to establish meaning in texts:
“The explanation of a work is always sought in the man or woman who produced it, as if it were always in the end, through the more or less transparent allegory of the fiction, the voice of a single person, the author ‘confiding’ in us” (Barthes, 143).
This way of exploring meaning in literary texts, by using the life or views of the author behind the text to explain it, is the approach to literary criticism that Barthes seeks to oppose. Barthes credits French poet and critic Stéphane Mellarmé, with being the first to point out the importance of separating the author from the text, and substituting the importance of the author with the importance of language itself (Barthes, 143). Thus Barthes attempts to prove how the text should be analyzed as its own separate entity, entirely independent from the author. In this he moves away from the previous conception of the author as enriched with original thought and inspiration in his/her creation of the literary text. As an example of how the role of the author is less important than the role of language itself, he describes the notion of ‘automatic writing’:
“Surrealism, though unable to accord language a supreme place (…) contributed to the desacrilization of the image of the Author by ceaselessly recommending the abrupt disappointment of expectations of meaning (…), by entrusting the hand with the task of writing as quickly as possible what the head itself is unaware of (automatic writing), by accepting the principle and the experience of several people writing together” (Barthes, 144).
By evoking ‘automatic writing’ as an example of the role of language in writing, Barthes seeks to further diminish the role of the author in the creation of text. By claiming that the hand writes what the head itself is not aware, the role of the author is definitively diminished into purely that of a vessel for language to flow through. After thus proving the separation of text and author, and the importance of language over the importance of the author in creating texts, Barthes goes on to supply critics with a new view of the author of text, to substitute the traditional one. Barthes introduces the ‘modern scriptor’ as a contrast to the traditional author:
“In complete contrast, the modern scriptor is born simultaneously with the text, is in no way equipped with a being preceding or exceeding the writing, is not the subject with the book as predicate; there is no other time than that of the enunciation and every text is eternally written here and now” (Barthes, 145).
After establishing the notion of the modern scriptor, Barthes moves on to his view of the text itself:
“We know now that a text is not a line of words releasing a single ‘theological’ meaning (the ‘message’ of the Author-God) but a multi-dimensional space in which a variety of writings, none of them original, blend and clash. The text is a tissue of quotations drawn from the innumerable centres of culture. (…) the writer can only imitate a gesture that is always anterior, never original. His only power is to mix writings, to counter the ones with the others, in such a way as never to rest on any one of them.” (Barthes, 146).
This view of the text, as described by Barthes, denotes a similar view on texts and their relation to each other within the field of literature, as described by Kristeva in her definition of intertextuality. Thus we see that Barthes presents a similar view, though from a different starting point, the point of the author of the text, and without Kristeva´s term ‘intertextuality’. When viewing the text as a tissue of quotations, Barthes sees no originality in any text produced by any author. In fact, he protests the notion of any original idea occurring to an author stating that what one might think of an ‘original thought’ in the mind of an author, is actually an inner ready-formed dictionary. Barthes thereby further reduces the role of the modern scriptor in the creation of text:
“His only power is to mix writings, to counter the ones with the others, in such a way as never to rest on any one of them. Did he wish to express himself, he ought at least to know that the inner ‘thing’ he thinks to ‘translate’ is itself only a ready-formed dictionary, its words only explainable through other words, and so on indefinitely” (Barthes, 146).
Thus Barthes firmly establishes the death of the author, who according to Barthes has no power or original thought. With Roland Barthes’s theory of the death of the author, the contemporary field of literary criticism was challenged. Previous to this, critics used the author to explain the text. But with the separation of text and author, the text must be viewed as an entity on its own, independent from the author. Barthes sees this as setting the text free from the limitations imposed on it, when seen in connection with the author (Barthes, 147). Finally, the death of the author brings another component into play. This component is the reader:
“(…) a text is made of multiple writings, drawn from many cultures and entering into mutual relations of dialogue, parody, contestation, but there is one place where this multiplicity is focused and that place is the reader, not, as we hitherto said, the author. The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text’s unity lies not in its origin but in its destination. (…) the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author” (Barthes, 148).
Barthes thus finishes his essay by establishing the importance of the role of the reader. Barthes views literary texts within an intertextual field of literature, where texts always draw on one another, always exist in relation to one another, and are in themselves never original. When seeing literature in this light, the reader becomes the one vital component in realizing these intertextual links and relationships existing between literary texts.

We have through selected essays by Julia Kristeva and Roland Barthes explored some of the aspects and views, which have contributed to the forming of the theory of intertextuality. In the following we will explore intertextuality further, looking at some of the more concrete ways in which these intertextual links and relationships might exist between literary texts. In this process we will work with the theory of Gérard Genette, who explores several aspects of intertextuality, distinguishing between as many as five categories of intertextual relationships, which can exist between literary texts.


Gérard Genette

As previously mentioned, Julia Kristeva is often thought of as the ‘mother’ of intertextuality, due to the fact that she is the one credited with coining the term. In her work, she relies heavily on the work of theorists before her, just as theorists after her, likewise, use and expand on her ideas in their work. French literary theorist, Gérard Genette, is thus, heavily influenced by Julia Kristeva, among others, in his work on intertextuality titled Palimpsests: Literature in the Second Degree (1982); a work which, by some, is even deemed a rewriting of Kristeva´s theory (Orr, 106). About Genette building his theory upon the work of other theorists, Orr goes on to say:


“His appropriation of Kristeva´s intertextuality in Palimpsestes is then not plagiarism or parody, but licensed imitation. This is also not an isolated incident in Genette´s critical evolution, for Louis Marin´s ‘architexte’ had already been borrowed openly in the preceding volume. Genette´s imitative critical indebtedness in fact derives from many critic-compatriots and collaborators since the 1960´s, most notably Tzvetan Todorov” (Orr, 107).
In this statement, as seems to be a main goal in her work intertextuality, as a whole, Orr seems occupied with giving credit where credit is due, emphasizing that no theory, nor theorist, stands alone. The theory/theories concerning intertextuality (as with a number of other subjects) develop over time, due to the work of various theorists and literary critics, expanding, critiquing or altering preexisting theories, none of who should alone be credited with this work. This is true for the theories represented in Genette´s Palimpsests as well.

Graham Allen positions Genette within the tradition of structuralist poetics, citing Jonathan Culler, Professor of English at Cornell University, in his view on the study of poetics within the field of structuralism:


“Structuralism’s particular contribution to this tradition is to refocus attention away from the specificities of individual works to the systems out of which they can be said to have been constructed” (Allen, 94).
This view is present in the work of Genette, who seeks to examine the role of the cultural and literary conventions, which a work of literature writes itself into, whether as a result of a conscious choice on part of the author or not. We will see this further explored in Genette’s work on types of intertextuality (or as Genette calls them, types of transtextuality), especially in the category, which he terms Architextuality. Graham Allen is referring to Genette’s extensive work on different types of transtextuality, when he credits Genette with pushing the practice of structuralist poetics into an arena, which can be termed intertextual (Allen, 95).

In Genette’s focus on the importance of literary genres, he attempts to clarify certain aspects of genre. He emphasizes the difference between the generic and the thematic as well as the difference between genre and modes:




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