Realisms and working women in the novels of Gaskell and Brontë /

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2014
Kahveci, Rana
This thesis demonstrates the use of social realism in Mary Barton and Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell and the use of psychological realism in Jane Eyre and Villette by Charlotte Brontë in the representation of working women in Victorian fiction. The study starts with a discussion of differing critical and philosophical definitions of the term “realism” in literature to point out the complexity of the term, that is based on its inherent apparent contradiction in referring to attempts to render “real” life through the fictitious existence of characters, events, and situations in the pages of novels. It also provides an outline of social events that shaped working women’s lives in the 19th century, in addition an outline of the common perceptions of Victorian society regarding women and women’s work. The analyses carried out in the central chapters of the thesis brought out the result that Gaskell and Brontë embraced the idea of working for women despite the prevailing confining conditions in women’s work areas and that they were moved by these hardships surrounding working women, and produced their works as means of criticism of the social, psychological, and moral problems these women were confronted with. Despite this shared concern, Gaskell and Brontë utilize different ways to present these women, their problems and conditions in their novels. This study claims that while Gaskell makes use of social realism in her representations of working women in Mary Barton and Ruth, Brontë mainly employs psychological theories of her era in her representations of working women in Jane Eyre and Villette.

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Citation Formats
R. Kahveci, “Realisms and working women in the novels of Gaskell and Brontë /,” M.S. - Master of Science, Middle East Technical University, 2014.