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Durham e-Theses
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Half-finished streets, Illimitable Horizons and Enclosed Intimacy: the landscapes of Elizabeth Gaskells writing.

Twinn, Frances Elizabeth (1999) Half-finished streets, Illimitable Horizons and Enclosed Intimacy: the landscapes of Elizabeth Gaskells writing. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



The study of Gaskell's use of place lies at the heart of the argument in this thesis. Recollections of her early years and places visited during her writing career help to create vividly evoked, topographically secure locations, which provide the structural foundations for her narratives. The major novels, the biography of Charlotte Brontë, and several short stories are used to illustrate the argument, although all her work is underpinned by a belief in the intimate connections between human beings and their environment. Chapter I offers an original landscape classification of her work and sets out the concepts that support the argument, e. g. Moretti's model of narrative structure and the concept of 'environmental determinism'. Chapter 2 focuses on Manchester's urban- industrial environment as portrayed realistically in Mary Barton and as a fictional representation in North and South. The argument focuses on the way in which Gaskell's familiarity with the town, and her compulsion to write about its people, combined to produce a narrative structure founded on a selective morphology of a town undergoing rapid urbanisation, manifest in it shalf-finished streets'. The physical conditions of Manchester are seen as one of the factors determining human destiny. Chapters 3,4 and 5 deal with the works of the 'wildscape' phase of her writing. Although discussed separately, Ruth, The Life of Charlotte Bronte and Sylvia's Lovers are linked by featureless, treeless expanses of moorland and seascape with 'illimitable horizons'. Chapter 6 establishes the topographical security of Gaskell's fictionalised rural and provincial landscapes. It explores the extent to which lives are dominated by the 'enclosed intimacy' of their physical and social environment in Wives and Daughters and a selection of shorter fiction. In conclusion, Chapter 7 identifies Gaskell as a 'northern' novelist whose work has been found to be enriched by a belief in the close connection between character and environment.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Keywords:Literature Mass media Performing arts Geography
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Arts and Humanities > English Studies, Department of
Thesis Date:1999
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:26 Jul 2011 17:52

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