Use this URL to cite or link to this record in EThOS:
Title: Building realism : architectural metaphor in the mid-Victorian novel
Author: Granatino, M. R.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7969 549X
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
Availability of Full Text:
Access from EThOS:
Access from Institution:
This thesis examines the use of architectural metaphor in four mid-Victorian novels: Charles Dickens's Bleak House (1853), Charlotte Brontë's Villette (1853), Mary Elizabeth Braddon's Lady Audley's Secret (1862), and George Eliot's Middlemarch (1872). The thesis argues that psychological realism in these novels is taking shape via architecture and provides a detailed examination of the heroines of mid-Victorian realist novels who narrate or convey their understanding of the world through architecture. This pattern of narration materialises in the novels through both straightforward architectural reporting (description of the built environment) and creative, imaginative architecture (architectural metaphor). A second layer of architecture exists in these novels apart from the built environment, a layer in which architecture functions in order to give three-dimensionality to a heroine's thoughts and emotions. I refer to these moments as 'architectural internalisation' and explore it as a dynamic technique used by authors to heighten the psychological realism of their work by allowing heroines to articulate and narrate their subjective experience via architecture: architecture provides these heroines with a vehicle for creative and constructive self-expression. While many critics address material architecture in these novels in terms of a realist built environment and metaphoric architecture primarily in terms of female entrapment and confinement, this thesis suggest a reappraisal of the role of architecture and an interrogation of the tendency to reflexively consider the architecture presented by Victorian authors as restrictive and constraining. It examines the architecturally-mediated psychological interiors crafted by these authors that anticipates the direct and unmediated access of the modernists, advocates that equal attention be afforded to built as well as organic images, and urges that built images be examined as purposeful constructions instead of dismissing them as pre-existing vehicles channelling the flow of organic systems. A close reading with a focus on architecture reveals that architectural metaphors are a vital component of the psychological realism of these novels. The thesis accordingly offers new insight into their heroines and narrators. Bleak House's Esther Summerson is at the centre of a psychological realist form depicted through architecture, while she has historically been depicted as a character with little psychological depth. Villette's Lucy Snowe, frequently considered a guarded and withdrawn narrator, builds and displays her own interiority for the reader and provides unprecedented access to her thoughts and emotions, while the narrator of Lady Audley's Secret uses an extended architectural metaphor to construct the novel's psychological realism. In Middlemarch, Eliot turns to architecture to imaginatively represent the internal workings of the mind. While much attention has been paid to living structures in Eliot's work, the built also has a significant role in Eliot's representation of the human mind and body and contributes to her particular mode of realism. Collectively, these novelists build psychological realism through architectural themes and narrative strategies.
Supervisor: Young, P. ; Zakreski, P. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Architecture ; realism ; psychology ; subjectivity ; Dickens ; Bronte ; Braddon ; Eliot