Date of Award

8-1-2015

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

English

First Advisor

Collins, Kenny

Abstract

Critics from Virginia Woolf and David Cecil to Lyn Pykett and U. C. Knoepflmacher, among others, have been mesmerized by the eccentric but transcendent world of Brontë’s Wuthering Heights and the Gondal poems. Despite allusions and references to various modernist elements in Emily Brontë’s novel and poetry, there has not been extensive analysis of her work in connection to modern writers of the early twentieth century. I believe that a multi-themed analysis of such components is necessary to reassess her position in the canon and establish her as a precursor to the modernists. This dissertation examines Brontë’s deliberate invitation of, and simultaneous resistance to, interpretation—qualities that align her novel and verse more with Modernist literature than that of her contemporaries. I argue that Emily Brontë had an unusual and forward-looking focus that is revealed in her treatment of children, women, and the struggles of isolated beings in the dark, foreboding and often impressionistic world of Gondal and Wuthering Heights. Her elucidation of the gap between the mundane and the spiritual, the use of farcical elements against the sublime are also precursory to modernism. This dissertation assesses the various themes, angles and techniques that Brontë employs in presenting a strange atmosphere that is representative of a future world.

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