Fictions of Reciprocity in <i>Jane Eyre</i> and <i>Aurora Leigh</i>

Jill Rappoport

in Giving Women

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199772605
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199919000 | DOI:
Fictions of Reciprocity in Jane Eyre and Aurora Leigh

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Longer narratives in prose and fiction elaborated on the communities that annuals constructed, depicting viable gift economies for women. Revising traditional readings of Jane Eyre (1847) and Aurora Leigh (1856) as tales of individual development, I argue that progress in these works depends upon trajectories of interpersonal exchange that demonstrate their heroines’ growing abilities to give and receive. By embracing models of reciprocity, novel and epic use financial gifts of patriarchal inheritance and shared income to challenge the dictates of common law, to reconstitute relationships, and to provide practical subsistence for intimate female alliances.

Keywords: Charlotte Brontë; Jane Eyre; Barrett Browning; Aurora Leigh; gift; women; tax; property; inheritance; income

Chapter.  11258 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (19th Century)

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