Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
Dr. Travis Lau
Dr. Piers Brown
This thesis aims to explore the influence on fairy folklore, especially of changeling folklore, on the works Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights by Charlotte and Emily Brontë. In particular, its goals are to discuss the ways in which the tropes of changeling narratives are used in order to discuss and criticize the upbringing and education of upper-class women in nineteenth century Great Britain. The changeling, as a figure between the worlds of the human and the supernatural, inherently carries a conflict within itself which is reflected in Jane and Catherine, who find themselves oscillating between the freedoms they desire and the roles they are expected to perform as Victorian women. Much like the changeling of folklore, both women find themselves alienated from their families as well as most other social circles they enter. The goal of this thesis is to examine these parallels and establish the concept of changeling girlhood- a proto-feminist discussion of Victorian female upbringing and growth, in particular the struggle to adhere to the ideas of femininity as domestic, calm, virtuous, and obedient, through the lens of the changeling figure.
Kempf, Clara, "Changeling Girlhoods: Fairy Folklore and Proto-Feminist Explorations of Childhood and Education In Jane Eyre and Wuthering Heights" (2023). Honors Theses. 639.
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