Date

2019

Department or Program

English

Primary Wellesley Thesis Advisor

Lisa Rodensky

Abstract

Perhaps the most famous quotation from Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847) is “I am no bird, and no net ensnares me; I am a free human being with an independent will.” But Jane's powerful and memorable feminist declaration to Rochester is often at odds with the many avian metaphors Brontë invents for the novel that compare women to birds. I've long been interested in how certain writers transform traditionally feminized or sexualized natural images like birds to craft a feminist poetics of their own. My senior thesis examines avian imagery in Brontë's Jane Eyre and Thomas Hardy's Tess of the d'Urbervilles (1891) as critiques of the hierarchal structures in Victorian England that oppress and “cage” women and their stories. More broadly, my study examines the way that people who are historically oppressed in Britain and America write in a dominant language that was not built with their freedom in mind.

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