Date of Award


Publication Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name



English Language, Literature, and Creative Writing

First Advisor

Stephen Pender

Second Advisor

Katherine Quinsey


British, Fiction, Victorian




In this thesis, I explore the Victorian poet and novelist Charlotte Brontë’s remarkable understanding of scripture and powers of analysis. As a daughter of the notable reverend Patrick Brontë, Brontë’s dissenting feminist views of the Bible are particularly significant. Although Brontë demonstrated a lifelong belief in God, and in the individual’s right to develop and maintain a direct relationship to God, personal tragedies in her life shaped the ways in which she interpreted scripture and informed her ideas regarding the spiritual realm. As the number of personal tragedies increase, Brontë’s spiritual vision, which migrates from one novel to the next, becomes less tethered to a specific denominational view but more individualistic, bold and inclusive of other religions and belief systems. By examining her spiritual vision at different stages in her life – encapsulated within each novel – I hope to illuminate how her faith fluctuated. This study will examine the effects of personal loss and physical disconnection from her mother (Maria Branwell) on a quintessentially dissenting feminist lay theologian, suggesting her overall message to Christian women, and later, women of all religious backgrounds and beliefs, of the dangers inherent in allowing men to mediate their relationship, knowledge and understanding of the divine.