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"Mediocrity in the Sensations": Charlotte Bronte and the Yorkshire Marriage

Sanders, Valerie



Justine Pizzo

Eleanor Houghton


This essay focuses on the way Brontë explores, via references to bodily sensation and material objects, both in her letters, and in her fiction, the experience of deciding to marry, and the alienating nature of its operation for those bystanders who feel destined never to be swept up in a reciprocal romance. The chapter investigates the relationship between her intensely physical and metaphorical language in the context of theories of embodied subjectivity, in order to deepen our understanding of how she interpreted the mysteriousness and incomprehensibility of sexual attraction as she witnessed it around her. The 'Yorkshire marriage' of the title intensifies these concerns, and derives from those allusions in both Brontë's letters and novels to alliances based on wealth and suitability, rather than the profound mutual affinity she sets as her ideal. Repeatedly, her novels and letters capture the shock of a marriage announcement that calls into question her own values and position as an ageing single woman.


Sanders, V. (2020). "Mediocrity in the Sensations": Charlotte Bronte and the Yorkshire Marriage. In J. Pizzo, & E. Houghton (Eds.), Charlotte Bronte, Embodiment and the Natural World (75-94). Cham: Palgrave Macmillan (part of Springer Nature).

Online Publication Date Jun 10, 2020
Publication Date Jun 10, 2020
Deposit Date May 3, 2022
Publicly Available Date Oct 27, 2022
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan (part of Springer Nature)
Pages 75-94
Series Title Palgrave Studies in Nineteenth-Century Writing and Culture
Series ISSN 2634-6494 ; 2634-6508
Book Title Charlotte Bronte, Embodiment and the Natural World
Chapter Number 4
ISBN 9783030348540 ; 9783030348571
Keywords Bronte; Marriage; Letters; The body; Fiction
Public URL


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