Date of Graduation
Master of Arts in English (MA)
Second Committee Member
Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, Charlotte Brontë, and Henry James challenged patriarchal conventions and assumptions by redefining womanhood and marriage in their novels, particularly by breaking from the traditional marriage ending. While Pride and Prejudice, North and South, and Jane Eyre end in marriage, these novels depict a freely chosen companionate marriage based on equality; Villette replaces the typical marriage ending with complete independence; and Washington Square and The Portrait of a Lady both portray the decisive rejection of the marriage ideal for a life of renunciation. This thesis analyzes the ways in which these novels challenge nineteenth-century society, as well as the ways they fail to break free from the confines of patriarchy. It looks at the ways in which each novel portrays womanhood and marriage and questions whether the novel presents a realistic alternative for women struggling to attain independence in an oppressive society.
Cox, Laura Elizabeth, "Happily Ever After? Redefining Womanhood and Marriage in Nineteenth-Century Novels" (2012). Theses and Dissertations. 333.