Isolation and the Victorian Female Artist: The Double Edge of Necessary Solitude

Date of Award


Degree Type

Archival Copy

First Advisor

Lynn Parker


This project is an examination of the woman artist in Victorian era literature. In both poetry and fiction, the Victorian woman artist is often alone, existing in a physical and social separateness from society. The Victorian woman artist’s isolation is often necessary for her professional success, as in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Brontë; however, as detailed in works like Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”, being alone leaves women vulnerable to forces that may deal them harm. This connection in many Victorian texts between the solitary woman and the artist characterizes gender roles of the time. By revealing the role of isolation in the experience of women artists, these Victorian texts serve to highlight the ways that going against the hegemonic ideals of the time can both empower and disenfranchise women. This investigation of gender roles and isolation can even be seen today, as isolated women continue to feel the same pressures that existed for the women within these Victorian texts.

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