Pictures of women in various states of health and decline proliferate in Villette: from the ‘pale dead nun’ painted ‘on a panel’, to the portrait of Cleopatra – ‘ugly’ because immodest in abundance – open to female view in a public gallery.5 It is, however, in the e cacy of characters’ self-reading, and self-portraiture – the palimpsest of images stored in the mind – that Brontë’s main interest lies. Both the form and content of Brontë’s novel are, I argue, centrally concerned with the operations of psychic trauma upon the mind and body of its rst-person narrator, Lucy Snowe. How did Charlotte Brontë use ctional autobiography imaginatively

to explore questions regarding distinctions between bodily and mental malady, ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’ complaint, and healthy or unhealthy existence?