Vicki Kirkland

Publication Date


Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Roy Miller, Hoyt Bowen, Will Fridy

Degree Program

Department of English

Degree Type

Master of Arts


After an examination of the typical Victorian woman was made from available authoritative sources it was found that George Eliot deviated from this standard and presented several views of the anti-Victorian woman in her novels. While the Victorian woman was pious, content with her role in life, poorly educated, dependent on the man in her life for answers to all problems, frail, feminine, attractive and frivolous, Eliot, on the other hand, contradicted these characteristics at almost every point. She refused to write the sort of entertaining stories the Victorian reader demanded, and furthermore, she viewed the Victorian home realistically.

Eliot was discontented with the standards controlling women’s role in life. Women were frustrated by inadequate opportunities for participating in the intellectual ferment of the time; but by her own persistent application, Eliot had been contaminated by the contagion of her critical age. It is the spread of this contagion through three of her female characters that is traced here and its degree of domination is noted. Eliot’s negative relationship to the typical conception of what the Victorian woman was like is illustrated through her portrayal of Dorothea in Middlemarch, Gwendolyn in Daniel Deronda and Mrs. Transome in Felix Holt, The Radical.


English Language and Literature | Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Women's Studies