“The Gothic Marriage Plot”: Gothic Realism as Resistance to Patriarchy in the Fiction of Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Anne Brontë Restricted; Files Only

Bower, Amy (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/g445cd14k?locale=en
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Abstract

Anne Brontë’s The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, Elizabeth Gaskell’s The Grey Woman, and Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey share an underlying anxiety about marriage in a society in which it is difficult for a woman to leave her husband. Northanger Abbey and The Grey Woman grapple with this fear by either parodying (Austen) or embracing (Gaskell) the conventions of the Gothic genre. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, generally considered a realist novel, depicts similar themes of horror and imprisonment. When one traces the similarities between the The Grey Woman, Northanger Abbey, and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, the ostensibly clear demarcations between the Gothic tale, the Gothic parody, and the realist novel become slippery. For women trapped in abusive marriages, the “real” and the “Gothic” are often indistinguishable. Using this framework, I contend that The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, though seemingly a “realist” novel, has Gothic qualities. Tenant is not solely realist or Gothic, but rather inhabits a Gothic realism particular to the experiences of women. Furthermore, these three novels have pedagogical implications, as the authors warn and educate their readers about the dangers of society. Thus, Gothic realism as it operates in the Female Gothic not only allows female authors to depict the oppression of women, but also resists that same oppression.    

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

 

Introduction………………………………………………………………………………………1

 

Chapter 1: The Patriarchal Horrors of Northanger Abbey and The Grey Woman…………………………………………………………………………………….………9

 

Chapter 2: The Gothic Realism of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall…………………………………30

 

Chapter 3: The Female Gothic as Pedagogy……………………………………………………..49

 

Bibliography……………………………………………………………………………………..59    

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