• The country in the writings of Elizabeth Gaskell

      Billington, Josie; Wynne, Deborah; Best, Aline M. (University of Liverpool (University College Chester), 2004-09)
      The country is an element within all the writings of Elizabeth Gaskell, in her letters, short stories and novels, even the 'condition-of-England' novels set within the city, and The Life of Charlotte Bronte. Yet, it is an aspect of her writing which has suffered from relative critical neglect. It is, therefore, an interesting and appropriate choice of subject for a dissertation for the M.A. in Literary Studies: 'The Country and the City'. The Introduction, after indicating the significance of Gaskell's letters in relation to the country, gives reasons for the selection of the short stories as the basis of the study of Gaskell's depiction of the country, together with the novel, Sylvia's Lovers, which is closest in stance and technique to the portrayal of country life in the short stories and also offers an interesting contrast between life in the country and the town. Reference is also made to other texts wherever appropriate. The study is essentially text-based, as a means of examining in depth Gaskell's subtlety as a writer. The chapter, 'The Country in the Letters', explores the extent to which Gaskell's letters reveal her lifelong love of the countryside and empathy with country people, as well as indicating early literary influences and evidencing many of the techniques found in her fictional writing. The next chapter, 'The Country in the Short Stories', after discussing the influence of Wordsworth, considers the element of social history within Gaskell's fictionalisation, before turning to the significance of the countryside as setting, the inherent characteristics of country people and realist techniques. The following chapter, 'The Country and the Town in Sylvia's Lovers' after treating the background to the work and certain key elements, analyses Gaskell's use of the country setting, her depiction of the principal country characters and her realist techniques, before considering the contrast between country and town, particularly in relation to Sylvia Robson's life after her marriage. The final chapter, 'The Country in the Writings of Elizabeth Gaskell: an Overview', summarises the significance of the portrayal of the country in the works studied in detail, while touching upon the difference in perspective in North and South and Wives and Daughters. The chapter concludes that: 'through the breadth of her picture, the acuity of her observation and her engagement, Gaskell's depiction of the countryside and country people is unique in nineteenth century English literature'.
    • Tears, blushes and beating hearts: Masculinity, emotions and feelings in Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South, Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd and Sara Jeannette Duncan's The Imperialist.

      Abletshauser, Alexandra C. (University of Chester, 2017-11)
      This dissertation explores the relationship between masculinity, emotions and feelings in Elizabeth Gaskell’s North and South (1855), Thomas Hardy’s Far from the Madding Crowd (1874) and Sara Jeannette Duncan’s The Imperialist (1904). The Introduction gives an overview of gender theory and the ideology of masculinity in general, explains the terms ‘emotion’ and ‘feeling’ and discusses the relationship between the ideology of masculinity, emotions and feelings in the nineteenth century. Chapter One examines the relationship between masculinity, emotions and feelings in the industrial setting of North and South and studies the tension or discrepancy between them. In addition, it demonstrates the different functions of the display of emotions and feelings. Furthermore, it challenges the assumption that the expression of male emotions and feelings automatically emasculates a man. Chapter Two looks at the depiction of masculinity and emotions in relation to nature descriptions, such as landscape, weather and animals, in the rural setting of Far from the Madding Crowd. It further shows how the display of emotions changes in the second half of the nineteenth century to an indirect expression through nature descriptions. At the same time, this chapter indicates that emotions and feelings are natural for men and that their suppression can have destructive consequences. The final chapter investigates masculine identities in the imperial setting of The Imperialist. It shows how at the-turn-of-the 20th century the expression of male emotions and feelings is replaced by an increasing self-control. The Conclusion indicates the realignment of gender identities that are defined through the inclusion of feminine and masculine characteristics and demonstrate their application in further nineteenth-century texts.
    • ‘There is a great deal to the build and wearing of hats, a great deal more than at first meets the eye’: The significance of headwear in the novels of Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell

      Lyon, Olivia (University of Chester, 2013)
      The aim of this dissertation is to investigate the significance of headwear to Victorian culture and society, primarily through an analysis of the ways in which headwear is presented in selected works by Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell. The dissertation will also examine articles, illustrations and periodicals from the time in order to gain an insight into the way headwear was viewed in the nineteenth century, in conjunction with information gathered from Brontë and Gaskell’s works. Further research into the subject area has suggested that this is an area of research which has been unusually overlooked, as there are many works which discuss the importance of nineteenth century clothing, but very few with any in-depth analysis of the importance of headwear. The investigation is split into two chapters. The first chapter analyses headwear and its significance to the representation of the individual, as well as the way in which the adornments and trimmings associated with headwear can reveal aspects of a character’s personality. There is also an analysis of the significance of headwear and its relation to the representation of masculinity and femininity, with reference to cross-dressing and Judith Butler’s ideas of gender construction. The second chapter examines headwear as a class signifier, primarily focusing on the headwear of the middle and working classes, including maids and servants. The socially ambiguous nature of the governess’s position is investigated, as well as highlighting the usage of headwear as a means of advancing one’s social class.