Elizabeth Gaskell and Romanticism : the romantic inheritance and her shorter works
The purpose of this thesis is to investigate the relationship between Elizabeth Gaskell and Romanticism, as shown in her shorter works. This investigation will be conducted in three principal ways: a consideration of Romanticism as a cultural phenomenon; a discussion of the cultural environment in which Gaskell was nurtured; and a critical appraisal of a selection of her shorter works. The first chapter is a consideration and discussion of Romanticism as a cultural shift which manifested itself through the closing decades of the eighteenth century and the early decades of the nineteenth century. Aspects of this cultural shift considered include literature, music and the visual arts. The second chapter focuses on biographical considerations with particular reference to Elizabeth Gaskell's family circumstances and the kind of education to which she had access. The remaining chapters offer a detailed discussion of a representative selection of her shorter works. These texts have been chosen to reveal her early collaboration with her husband William Gaskell; her knowledge of Romantic poets; and ways in which she developed as a writer. This development shows an engagement with an increasingly wide range of Romantic poets and a willingness on her part to engage with the darker side of Romanticism, especially through the use of Gothic techniques. The focus is on Gaskell's shorter works because these texts have received far less critical attention than her full-length novels and because of her contribution to the rise of the modem short story, as a genre distinct from the novel.