Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2017

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English, Linguistics, and Communication

First Advisor

Lorentzen, Eric

Second Advisor

Richards, Gary

Major or Concentration



The primary focus of this honors project is analyzing the ways in which Charlotte Brontë strategically deconstructs traditional heteronormative constructs of feminine gender and sexuality in two of her novels, Shirley and Villette. This project is split into two analytical documents: the first, an annotated bibliography assessing the critical, scholarly discourse on Shirley; the second, a critical assessment of Brontë's "novel of alternatives," Villette. Although this project is entitled "The Condition of Women," as Brontë scholars have dully noted the author's continued progression and revolutionary approach to Victorian normalizations of women, the didactic messages behind Brontë's novels ultimately need to be applied to the ways in which our contemporary society continues to adhere to these arbitrary and daunting heteronormative social constructs. Ultimately, the purpose of this paper is to evoke a critical assessment and awareness for the ways in which our society problematically normalizes and scrutinizes the ways in which people express their gender and sexuality.