Disease and Desire: Disciplining Encoded Homoeroticism in Jane Eyre and "The Yellow Wallpaper"

Tunc T. E.

FOREIGN LITERATURE STUDIES, vol.31, no.1, pp.40-49, 2009 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 31 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2009
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.40-49
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


As Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (1847) and Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "The Yellow Wallpaper" (1899) illustrate, Victorian physicians, and the nineteenth-century medical establishment in which they operated, used their growing influence to scrutinize, categorize, and eliminate "pathological" manifestations of the female body through disciplinary practices such as the medical examination, the patient "confession," and the rest cure, a gendered treatment that almost always targeted women. One of the medical profession's obsessions became the eradication of queer, or "aberrant," corporeal expressions, which included disease (both venereal and non-venereal) and homosocial/homoerotic desire-no matter how subtle, or encoded, its expression. As these literary works convey, the actions and ideologies of this disciplinary social institution not only transformed female "abnormality" or "queerness" into a subject of discourse, but also encouraged its construction as an object of gendered power negotiations between Victorian men and women (i.e., the antagonists and protagonists)