Date of Award

7-2000

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

English

Supervisor

Joan Coldwell

Abstract

In Charlotte Brontë's fiction, the search for home is a recurring pattern that symbolizes the writer's search for her place in literary culture. Beginning with her childhood writings set in the imaginary Glasstown, this search can be traced through the Angrian saga and Charlotte Brontë's first novel, The Professor , to its optimistic resolution in Jane Eyre , with the union of the two central characters at Ferndean. The perspectives of cultural criticism and of object relations psychoanalytic theory enable this thesis to connect social and cultural meanings with the personal and individual significance of the search for home in these works. By means of this theme, Charlotte Brontë's fiction examines the question of preserving imagination and its connection to nature, a question which was also a concern of the Romantic poets. The search for home also reflects the woman writer's consciousness of the place of her work and her ideas in literary history. This thesis draws attention to the development of a characteristic narrative voice in the early writings, and to the increasing focus on female characters and the issue of creativity in the early writings and The Professor . The question of creativity is connected to representations of home in passages of heightened figurative language that symbolically explore the writer's imagination. In Jane Eyre , the narrative voice is female for the first time in Charlotte Brontë's fiction, and her search for home explores the complex relationship of nature and culture in the five homes in the novel, and in the narrator's imagination. Jane Eyre also explores the religious meaning of the search for home and develops a dialogue between patriarchal Christianity and other religious expressions, including a maternal religion related to nature, domestic rituals and the care of the body. Finally, the novel embodies, in its union of male and female characters, the woman writer's connection with Romanticism, her literary home.

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