Title

Reconsidering the Perception of Female Strength in the Gothic Romance Novel

Presenter Information

Sarah Nassif

Document Type

Oral Presentation

Location

SURC 137A

Start Date

17-5-2012

End Date

17-5-2012

Abstract

The gothic romance novel is deeply rooted in the tradition of the Victorian era in which it was established; the stories of moral young women resisting the temptations of the world around them linger as relics of societal values long since dismissed. The gothic heroine remains an important member of literary tradition, yet alienates modern readers who hold different ideals of feminine strength. Can we make such influential literary works (Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca) relevant to a new audience so as to protect their position in the modern-day canon? By revisiting these works through the lens of modern feminine values, I hope to do just that. Using an internal-motivation model of strength, I will establish that by today’s standards feminine strength is no longer exemplified by the gothic heroine, but rather by the femme fatale. By adjusting our reading to emphasize the strength of the femme fatale character rather than the heroine, we can update our understanding of the gothic romance to correspond with modern values and make them, once again, relatable to today’s readers.

Faculty Mentor(s)

George Drake, Karen Gookin, Matthew Altman

Additional Mentoring Department

English

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May 17th, 2:10 PM May 17th, 2:30 PM

Reconsidering the Perception of Female Strength in the Gothic Romance Novel

SURC 137A

The gothic romance novel is deeply rooted in the tradition of the Victorian era in which it was established; the stories of moral young women resisting the temptations of the world around them linger as relics of societal values long since dismissed. The gothic heroine remains an important member of literary tradition, yet alienates modern readers who hold different ideals of feminine strength. Can we make such influential literary works (Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre, Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights, and Daphne du Maurier's Rebecca) relevant to a new audience so as to protect their position in the modern-day canon? By revisiting these works through the lens of modern feminine values, I hope to do just that. Using an internal-motivation model of strength, I will establish that by today’s standards feminine strength is no longer exemplified by the gothic heroine, but rather by the femme fatale. By adjusting our reading to emphasize the strength of the femme fatale character rather than the heroine, we can update our understanding of the gothic romance to correspond with modern values and make them, once again, relatable to today’s readers.