“The Amorous Effects of ‘Brass’”
DOI link for “The Amorous Effects of ‘Brass’”
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This chapter begins with an investigation into Jane Austen's realism, a subject that remains controversial. It demonstrates the insignificance of literary physiognomics in Austen's domestic England and how it forms a central gap in her fiction. The reasons for growing irregularity in character description—both male and female, even though Fahnestock exclusively focuses on heroines—rest on the burgeoning realist mode and the dependency on physiognomics. The character of the portrayed can only be interpreted correctly by physiognomic means if the portrait is truthful to the model: that is to say, if the portrait is a realist one. Thus, portrait episode, without being physiognomic in itself, reminds us by implication that literary physiognomics—if possible at all—is possible only within a realist narrative framework. And while the characters in Austen's novels simply need to look at the price tags the narrator puts on all of the characters, characters in Charlotte Bronte have a greater demand for physiognomics as a means of personal categorization.