Committee Chair

Stuart, Christopher

Committee Member

Wakefield, Hannah; Jordan, Joseph P., 1976-


Dept. of English


College of Arts and Sciences


University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

Place of Publication

Chattanooga (Tenn.)


The reduction of the power of the Church of England during the Victorian era was inevitably reflected in the work of Charles Dickens, Elizabeth Gaskell, and Charlotte Brontë. In this paper, I will examine one novel from each writer to explore how each responded to the decline of the Church of England and the growth of other denominations. This thesis project rests on the idea that Gaskell presents religious dissent in a sympathetic light and Dickens and Brontë respond to this topic with trepidation. Although the Victorian era brought a new religious standard, Dickens’s and Brontë’s fear of Gaskell’s dissent novel betrays the tight grip which traditionalism still had on Victorian society. The examination of North and South, Hard Times, and Jane Eyre will show how the larger conversation about the cultural shift away from Anglicanism was manifesting itself on the literary page.


I would like to express my deep gratitude to Dr. Stuart whose relentless feedback made this possible. I appreciate every sequence of question marks and every comment of, “wordy” in the margins of my papers because they brought me here. I admire your work and am grateful for the opportunity to work with you on this project. A relentless committee chair is what every master's scholar hopes for. Thank you to Dr. Wakefield whose work I admired prior to beginning my study at the University of Tennessee. It was a great honor to have you on my committee and I appreciate your kindness and honesty. Thank you to Dr. Jordan whose work in Victorian literature propelled this project forward from the very beginning. Your advice and resources were invaluable in the shaping of this thesis. I would like to thank the faculty from my undergraduate program, without whom I never would have continued a study of literature. A specific thank you to Dr. Calley Hornbuckle, Dr. Kerri Allen, Dr. Mary Nielsen, and Dr. Cicero Bruce. You have made and are making all the difference. Thank you to my family and friends for graciously allowing me to hermit myself for the past two years. Nothing in the world means more to me than your love and support. Lastly, thank you to my codependent colleague and forever proofreader, Lacey. You absolutely know I would and could not have done this without you.


M. A.; A thesis submitted to the faculty of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the degree of Master of Arts.




English literature--19th century--History and criticism; Religion in literature


Gaskell, Elizabeth Cleghorn, 1810-1865. North and south; Dickens, Charles, 1812-1870. Hard times; Brontë, Charlotte, 1816-1855. Jane Eyre


Literature; Victorian Literature; Religious Dissent

Document Type

Masters theses




vii, 57 leaves





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