Date on Master's Thesis/Doctoral Dissertation

5-2021

Document Type

Master's Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Department

English

Degree Program

English, MA

Committee Chair

Lutz, Deborah

Committee Member

Kelderman, Frank

Committee Member

Hall, Ann

Author's Keywords

Brontë; Shelley; feminist criticism; patriarchy; self-affirmation; social systems

Abstract

Drawing on feminist criticism and postcolonial theory, this study analyzes conversations about female identity within and around Victorian female gothic novels and how they contribute to the genre’s appeal to modern readers. In particular, it is a case study of how the discourse develops through Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein (1818), Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights (1847), and Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre (1847). Each novel presents the challenges women face when their sense of self is based on the expectations of others, and Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre further explore the potential for women to create their own, unique identity while still remaining within an established, patriarchal society. Although none of the novels provide a perfect solution to the problems they identify, they facilitate conversations between writers and readers across generations, thus supporting continued personal development and social change.

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