The Last Sketch ["Emma"]
W M T, pseud. [William M Thackeray] / The Late Charlotte Brontë
Introduction / Novel, Fragment
Physiognomy, Mental Illness, Physiological Psychology, Class
Matilda Fitzgibbon, a pupil at a ladies' school where she eschews the company of the other girls, has a 'physiognomy' that would 'have repelled' her teachers had 'she been a poor child' (490). The story relates that in 'some disturbed state of the digestive organs Miss Fitzgibbon took to sleep-walking' and 'one night terrified the school into a panic by passing through the bedrooms, all white in her night-dress, moaning and holding out her hands as she went' (493). Then, 'within a fortnight after the somnambulistic feat', she is found 'curled round on the landing, blue, cold, and stiff, without any light in her half-open eyes', and when 'roused from this fit [...] her senses seemed half scattered' (493–94). At the end of the fragmentary story, the child is confronted with doubts about her upper-class background and falls to the ground 'overcome, but not unconscious' (498).
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