Bearing the Word: Language and Female Experience in Nineteenth-Century Women’s Writing

Margaret Homans
June 1989

As the title suggests, ‘Bearing the Word’ looks with particular intensity at the intersections of women’s reproductive and literary roles. Through close readings of works by Dorothy Wordsworth, Mary Shelley, Emily and Charlotte Bronte, George Eliot, and Elizabeth Gaskell, Margaret Homans explores the variety of ways in which nineteenth-century women writers attempted to reclaim their own experiences as paradigms for writing. In so doing, Homans responds to questions raised by contradictory assumptions in current feminist theory. 

Contents: Representation, Reproduction, and Women’s Place in Language. - Building Refuges: Dorothy Wordsworth’s Poetics of the Image. - The Name of the Mother in Wuthering Heights. - Dreaming of Children: Literalization in Jane Eyre. - Bearing Demons: Frankenstein’s Circumvention of the Maternal. - Eliot, Wordsworth, and the Scenes of the Sisters’ Instruction. - The Author as Mother: Bearing the Word as Nineteenth-Century Ideology. - Figuring the Mother: Madonna Romola’s Incarnation. - Mothers and Daughters I: Gaskell’s Stories of the Mother’s Word and the Daughter’s Fate. - Mothers and Daughters II: Wives and Daughters, or “Two Mothers.” - Mothers and Daughters in Virginia Woolf’s Victorian Novel. 

Includes bibliographical notes and index.