Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Christopher Orchard, D.Phil.

Second Advisor

Todd Thompson, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Chauna Craig, Ph.D.


In this dissertation I examine how Charlotte Brontë's "Jane Eyre" (1847), Anne Brontë's "The Tenant of Wildfell Hall" (1848), Geraldine Jewsbury's "The Half Sisters" (1848), and Dinah Craik's "Olive" (1850) represent the professional endeavors of single women who needed to provide for themselves and/or their families. I argue that these novels illustrate an understanding of the growing need for women to professionalize and were therefore advocating for a revised understanding of the domestic ideal, one that left room for singleness and professionalism. I situate these novels in the historical context of mid-nineteenth century England by placing them in dialogue with contemporary nonfiction writers, such as Harriet Martineau, Sarah Ellis, Sarah Lewis, Marion Reid and Barbara Bodichon Smith. I have consulted the work of Elaine Showalter, Mary Poovey, Elizabeth Langland and Martha Vicinus among others in my use of a feminist literary approach.