The Ungovernable Governess:The Figure of the Governess in the Victorian Sensation Novel of the 1860s.

Harris, Carol Anne (2011) The Ungovernable Governess:The Figure of the Governess in the Victorian Sensation Novel of the 1860s. Masters thesis, University of Wales, Trinity St David.

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This dissertation will examine the figure of the governess in the Victorian Sensation Novels of the 1860s in order to determine if sensation fiction in this period was inevitably concerned with portraying the ungovernable side of femininity. The primary focus will be on the female protagonist in Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, Wilkie Collins Armadale, Louisa May Alcott’s ‘Behind a Mask,’ and Ellen Wood’s East Lynne.1 The effects of the moral and social climate of the nineteenth century and the influence the historical governess had on these works will be examined. The hypothesis that Braddon, Collins, Alcott, and Wood use the governess to depict various forms of female non-conformity in order to comment on the limitations and injustices of the woman’s position in a male dominated society will be considered, particularly in relation to the depiction of Victorian matrimony and the sexual double standard. Under discussion will be the liminal position of the governess and the way in which these villainous and deviant women use masquerade and their position in ways that tend towards deception. The motivation behind the actions of these transgressive females will also be discussed, particularly the significance of poverty and social position on their ungovernable behaviour, and the extent to which these texts and the governess figure can be seen as feminist will be explored. "

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information: Series: Carmarthen / Lampeter Dissertations;10412/289.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Governesses, English fiction 19th century
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Theses and Dissertations > Masters Dissertations
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Depositing User: John Dalling
Date Deposited: 13 Nov 2014 18:23
Last Modified: 27 Jan 2023 14:29

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