CUP Undergraduate Research


The Perfect Heroine, The Selfish Nymph, and the Two Sisters Who Wrote Them

Date of Award


Document Type

Restricted Access Thesis


College of Theology, Arts, & Sciences



Degree Name

English, BA

First Advisor

Dr. Daniel Wright


This thesis aims to compare and contrast the main female and male protagonists in the novels Jane Eyre by Charlotte Brontë and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. Within the historical context of the books, the main themes of the novels revolve around social and class issues, religious fractions, and the gender stereotypes within the love/marriage relationship. In Jane Eyre, Rochester is the archetype of Victorian gentlemen with a lenient view of religion. He bends his male role in order to become equal with Jane Eyre and to find true happiness. Jane Eyre’s unique social position as governess allows her to maneuver within societal norms. She also reflects the conflicting religious opinions of nature and God at the time, while maintaining a core understanding of her own self-worth. In Wuthering Heights, Heathcliff portrays the bloodsucking nature of society with his attempt to surpass all others within the system. His rejection of organized religion and heavy reliance on his love reveal Emily’s distrust of hypocritical Christians. Catherine Earnshaw is selfish in her desire for wealth and status, yet she reiterates Heathcliff’s lack of belief in religion. Her view of heaven is shocking to most other characters in the novel, and her love for Heathcliff is, at the most basic level, identity-forming. These two novels artistically point to the major issues within Victorian society and society today.

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