Women’s Spectrality and Identity in Victorian Literature Open Access

Shine, Leah (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/qj72p717w?locale=en


In this paper, I examine how ghostly women in Victorian Era literature embody problems that women often faced in a constricted society. Specifically, I investigate how the spectrality of Anne Catherick in The Woman in White, Miss Havisham in Great Expectations, and Catherine Earnshaw in Wuthering Heights speaks to larger issues of repression and identity for women during the period.


Table of Contents

Women’s Spectrality and Identity in Victorian Literature: Introduction. 1

The Spectral Woman and the Erasure of Identity in Wilkie Collins’ The Woman in White. 11

Introduction. 11

Victorian Era Marriage Laws. 12

The Oppression of Laura Fairlie. 15

Anne Catherick as the Spectral Woman. 18

Ethical Implications of the Spectral Woman. 20

Changing Identities. 25

Conclusion. 30

The Spectral Woman and the Uncanny in Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations. 33

Introduction. 33

Miss Havisham as the Spectral Woman. 34

The Nature of Spectrality and the Uncanny in Great Expectations. 37

The Gender Problem.. 42

The Denatured Mother: Ethical Implications of the Spectral Woman. 43

Conclusion. 47

Childhood Trauma of The Spectral Woman in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights. 49

Introduction. 49

Catherine Earnshaw as the Spectral Woman. 50

Early Life of Catherine Earnshaw.. 54

Spectral Identity. 58

Initial Reception (1847–1848) 60

Conclusion. 62

Works Cited. 63

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