File Download
Supplementary

postgraduate thesis: Her shadow : tracing minor female characters in the Victorian novel

TitleHer shadow : tracing minor female characters in the Victorian novel
Authors
Advisors
Issue Date2019
PublisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)
Citation
Mo, Y. T. N. [毛苑婷]. (2019). Her shadow : tracing minor female characters in the Victorian novel. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.
AbstractThis thesis argues that inequality in the nineteenth-century novel’s character system has social significance beyond the text. By casting social minorities as minor characters, the novel reflects, reaffirms, and solidifies their inferior status in the real world. Female minor characters are the focus of this thesis because traditional domestic ideologies in this period created extremely restrictive boundaries for acceptable femininity. Heroines tend to embody and exhibit traits associated with nineteenth-century feminine ideals, thereby encouraging emulation among female readers and strengthening these values throughout society. In contrast, characters that represent or display what is perceived as transgressive female behavior are frequently sidelined as minor characters, implying that they are undeserving of attention and social prominence. Critics such as Alex Woloch have expounded on the necessity of minor characters because a novel cannot possibly accommodate a narrative made entirely of protagonists. Some characters must sacrifice interiority and developmental arcs to be rendered minor. This thesis does not refute this claim, but strives to demonstrate that minoring certain characters can be problematic due to the historical and cultural background behind them. Chapter 1 looks at doppelgangers that function as an externalization of the heroine’s flaws or transgressive desires. It contends that these doppelgangers are typically killed off or suffer some other form of misfortune within the narrative to symbolize the heroine’s moral development, hence suggesting that certain female models are more desirable than others. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Jane Austen’s Emma, and Wilkie Collins’s The Law and the Lady are analyzed in this section to demonstrate that this phenomenon occurs across literary genres. Chapter 2 examines the connection between protagonicity and the marriage plot. In both Austen’s Emma and Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, marriage is portrayed as a requirement of the protagonist position. In Villette, in particular, the narrator-protagonist believes herself unworthy of protagonicity due to her failed marriage plots and props her friend up as the heroine instead. This reinforces the importance of marriage to Victorian women and links spinsterhood with minorness in society. Chapter 3 investigates fallen women in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Ellen Wood’s East Lynne and George Eliot’s Adam Bede. They stray from a conventional marriage plot in favor of some form of personal freedom and are punished by losing their narrative centrality. This section claims that by silencing these women, their voices are denied legitimacy and reader sympathy.
DegreeMaster of Philosophy
SubjectHistory and criticism - 19th century - English fiction
Equality in literature
Dept/ProgramEnglish
Persistent Identifierhttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/279282

 

DC FieldValueLanguage
dc.contributor.advisorValdez, JR-
dc.contributor.advisorKuehn, JC-
dc.contributor.authorMo, Yuen Ting Natalie-
dc.contributor.author毛苑婷-
dc.date.accessioned2019-10-24T08:28:44Z-
dc.date.available2019-10-24T08:28:44Z-
dc.date.issued2019-
dc.identifier.citationMo, Y. T. N. [毛苑婷]. (2019). Her shadow : tracing minor female characters in the Victorian novel. (Thesis). University of Hong Kong, Pokfulam, Hong Kong SAR.-
dc.identifier.urihttp://hdl.handle.net/10722/279282-
dc.description.abstractThis thesis argues that inequality in the nineteenth-century novel’s character system has social significance beyond the text. By casting social minorities as minor characters, the novel reflects, reaffirms, and solidifies their inferior status in the real world. Female minor characters are the focus of this thesis because traditional domestic ideologies in this period created extremely restrictive boundaries for acceptable femininity. Heroines tend to embody and exhibit traits associated with nineteenth-century feminine ideals, thereby encouraging emulation among female readers and strengthening these values throughout society. In contrast, characters that represent or display what is perceived as transgressive female behavior are frequently sidelined as minor characters, implying that they are undeserving of attention and social prominence. Critics such as Alex Woloch have expounded on the necessity of minor characters because a novel cannot possibly accommodate a narrative made entirely of protagonists. Some characters must sacrifice interiority and developmental arcs to be rendered minor. This thesis does not refute this claim, but strives to demonstrate that minoring certain characters can be problematic due to the historical and cultural background behind them. Chapter 1 looks at doppelgangers that function as an externalization of the heroine’s flaws or transgressive desires. It contends that these doppelgangers are typically killed off or suffer some other form of misfortune within the narrative to symbolize the heroine’s moral development, hence suggesting that certain female models are more desirable than others. Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, Jane Austen’s Emma, and Wilkie Collins’s The Law and the Lady are analyzed in this section to demonstrate that this phenomenon occurs across literary genres. Chapter 2 examines the connection between protagonicity and the marriage plot. In both Austen’s Emma and Charlotte Brontë’s Villette, marriage is portrayed as a requirement of the protagonist position. In Villette, in particular, the narrator-protagonist believes herself unworthy of protagonicity due to her failed marriage plots and props her friend up as the heroine instead. This reinforces the importance of marriage to Victorian women and links spinsterhood with minorness in society. Chapter 3 investigates fallen women in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, Ellen Wood’s East Lynne and George Eliot’s Adam Bede. They stray from a conventional marriage plot in favor of some form of personal freedom and are punished by losing their narrative centrality. This section claims that by silencing these women, their voices are denied legitimacy and reader sympathy.-
dc.languageeng-
dc.publisherThe University of Hong Kong (Pokfulam, Hong Kong)-
dc.relation.ispartofHKU Theses Online (HKUTO)-
dc.rightsThe author retains all proprietary rights, (such as patent rights) and the right to use in future works.-
dc.rightsThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.-
dc.subject.lcshHistory and criticism - 19th century - English fiction-
dc.subject.lcshEquality in literature-
dc.titleHer shadow : tracing minor female characters in the Victorian novel-
dc.typePG_Thesis-
dc.description.thesisnameMaster of Philosophy-
dc.description.thesislevelMaster-
dc.description.thesisdisciplineEnglish-
dc.description.naturepublished_or_final_version-
dc.date.hkucongregation2019-
dc.identifier.mmsid991044158735803414-

Export via OAI-PMH Interface in XML Formats


OR


Export to Other Non-XML Formats