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Marriage and Paradoxical Christian Agency in the Novels of Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, Anne Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell

Fisher, Dalene (2016) Marriage and Paradoxical Christian Agency in the Novels of Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, Anne Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent,. (KAR id:56688)

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Abstract

Between 1790 and 1850, the novel was used widely "for doing God's work," and English female authors, specifically those who identified themselves as Christians, were exploiting the novel's potential to challenge dominant discourse and middle-class gender ideology, particularly in relationship to marriage. I argue in this thesis that Mary Wollstonecraft, Jane Austen, Anne Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell used the novel to construct Christian heroines who, as unlikely agents, make resistive choices shown to be undergirded by faith.

All practicing some form of Christianity, Wollstonecraft, Austen, Brontë and Gaskell engage evangelicalism's belief in "transformation of the heart." They construct heroines who are specifically shown to question the value of a narrative that assumes wayward husbands would somehow be transformed as a result of the marriage union. The heroines in this study come to resist such reforming schemes. Instead, they paradoxically leverage the very Christian faith that dominant discourse would use to subjugate them in unequal unions.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
Thesis advisor: Batchelor, Jennie
Thesis advisor: Waters, Cathy
Uncontrolled keywords: marriage coverture patriarchy husband wife Byronic Christianity Evangelicalism Anglican Dissent Unitarian novel heroine hero Wollstonecraft Austen Bronte Gaskell education disposition paradoxical agency spiritual gender Ideology female resistant reform transformation heart Hannah More
Subjects: P Language and Literature
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English
Depositing User: Users 1 not found.
Date Deposited: 29 Jul 2016 13:00 UTC
Last Modified: 06 Feb 2020 04:14 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/56688 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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