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A God of their own: religion in the poetry of Emily Brontë, Christina Rossetti and Constance Naden

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posted on 09.11.2009, 12:02 by Nour Alarabi
This thesis aims to portray the different ways in which nineteenth-century women poets perceived God and religion, exemplified by the works of Emily Brontë, Christina Rossetti, and Constance Naden. From the 1960s onward, there have been considerable efforts to redefine Victorian women‘s spirituality, and to eliminate the ‘angel of the house‘ image that was attached to them by their male contemporaries. As a result, the works of many Victorian women poets have been revived and re-evaluated. Brontë and Rossetti have been the focus of many individual studies which have explored their religious orientations, mainly by identifying in their works the religious doctrines of the movements with which they were associated. In contrast, Constance Naden‘s status as an atheist scientist and a philosopher has made modern scholars overlook the representation of religion in her poetry. By focussing on the less familiar poems of Brontë (the Gondal poems) and Rossetti (the secular early poems), the thesis will offer a new interpretation of their relationship with God. This will not be based on a consideration of their religious beliefs but on the lack of them in their early works. The chapter on Naden, however, will demonstrate how her scientific training did not stop her from sympathizing with theists, and admiring prophets and mystics. The ultimate aim of the thesis will be to illustrate the individuality of these poets and the uniqueness of their thought. This will be achieved through a close analysis of the poems, with a minimal use of feminist and other literary theories. It will also demonstrate the problematic interpretations that may arise from associating these poets with one religious movement or one school of thought.



Shattock, J.

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University of Leicester

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