Date of Award

Spring 2007

Document Type

Dissertation - Restricted

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Hoeveler, Diane Long

Second Advisor

Rivero, Albert J.

Third Advisor

Block, Ed.


Those of us who love the Brontes would be hard-pressed to explain (to people who have never read them) what makes their novels so compelling. If we say, "You can't put them down!" they could come back with, "You mean like John Grisham?" We would surely insult their dignity if we replied, "Oh, no, they're far superior to anything on today's best seller list!" The only way we could avoid such condescension would be to convince them to read the novels for themselves, and then they would appreciate them first-hand and know what we are talking about. Once again, however, we would sound patronizing, and we might have to conclude that our love for the Brontes cannot be adequately expressed in casual conversation, surely not in just one sentence. Of course, this begs an ironic question: Can you and I (we who have read their novels many times) express even to one another our reasons for loving these novels in just one, single, sentence? Since I have had more time to reflect on this matter than most people, let me be first to lay my sentence on the counter top of discussion. My fascination for the Brontes can be expressed in the following sentence: Because they knew the value of straw, the Brontes refused to spin it into gold. Indeed, these three young women loved the truth more than anything else. What dazzled the world did not dazzle them. I am not saying that they despised what the world valued. We know, for example, how much Charlotte Bronte yearned for beauty, or at least, how much she gave that impression. Her publisher, George Smith (of Smith, Elder and Co.), perceived such a yearning, and he describes its intensity as he recalls meeting Charlotte for the first time...



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