Victorian Female Identity Construction Under the Gaze: A Case of Esther in Bleak House

Rong OU, Bai LIU


The gaze of desire is prevalent throughout Bleak House, most visibly manifested on the heroine Esther. When gazed by “the Other”, she is suspicious of her identity and existence, which causes her psychological conflicts step by step. Supported by Lacan’s gaze theory, the paper intends to analyze Esther’s psychological actions through the gazes from various aspects—obedience to the elder’s authority, oppression by the patriarchal society, and the anti-gaze of awakening female recognition—to reveal social surveillance of women and to present the female’s aesthetics of existence and the development of social ethos in the modern age.


Esther; Lacanian gaze; Female; Identity construction

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