Subversion from Within: Anne Bronte, Emily Bronte, and Mary Shelley's Gothic Feminism

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Florida Southern College
Long before recognized feminist movements began, women were fighting the patriarchal structure of society with the aims of equality and recognition. Woman writers have had to fight to gain a standing with their male counterparts in the literary public eye. For centuries, many women could only achieve success in their contemporary circles by publishing their work under a male or gender-neutral pseudonym. One such woman, Charlotte Brontë, said in a letter to her editor that an early critic of Jane Eyre “praised the book if it were written by a man, and pronounced it ‘odious’ if the work of a woman” (Qtd in Margaret Smith 139). In addition to being considered inferior in everyday life, women were also depicted in literature as typically flat characters that fit into a regressive trope or patriarchal stereotype representing all women. Female characters were traditionally cast in one of three roles: the mother, the prostitute, or the divine, “pure” female muse. In particular, the Gothic genre is full of tropes that reflect a lesser view of women—tropes such as the fainting heroine, the mistreated female servant, and the brooding Gothic hero, who is often revealed to be an abuser. [...]
Honors Thesis Spring 2020
Brontë, Anne, 1820-1849, Brontë, Emily, 1818-1848, Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft, 1797-1851, Gothic fiction (Literary genre), English, Feminism and literature