Bleak House: The Myth of Separate Spheres in Narrative Expression

Open Access
Author:
Schmidt, Margaret Anne
Area of Honors:
English
Degree:
Bachelor of Arts
Document Type:
Thesis
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Robert Lougy, Thesis Supervisor
  • Janet Wynne Lyon, Honors Advisor
  • Michael Walter Anesko, Faculty Reader
Keywords:
  • Bleak House
  • gender
  • separate spheres
  • Dickens
  • narration
Abstract:
This thesis explores the form of the double narrative in Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, and the interplay of the two distinct and gendered narrative voices. I will examine the ways in which gender stereotypes during the Victorian era dictated paradigms of narrative expression and how Dickens used those conventions in his portrayal of the omniscient and masculine third person narrator and the feminine first person narrator. I argue that the rhetorical techniques employed in narration resist the stereotypes of male and female narrators and authors. My intention is to dispel the idea that these narrative voices conform to Victorian gender conventions and prove that the separate spheres of masculine and feminine narrative authority are more ideal than actual.