Skip navigation

The reappropriation of the Victorian in the novels of Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter

The reappropriation of the Victorian in the novels of Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter

Somerville, Niall James Damien (2017) The reappropriation of the Victorian in the novels of Margaret Atwood and Angela Carter. PhD thesis, University of Greenwich.

Niall James Damien Somerville 2017 - secured.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (2MB) | Preview


In their novels, Angela Carter and Margaret Atwood display more influence from Victorian literature than may be immediately apparent. While they have both written historical novels that have been embraced by Neo-Victorian studies, the influence of the literature of the nineteenth century goes beyond these works, with the theme of the ‘Victorian’ being a recurring motif even in novels with contemporary or science fiction settings. This can be argued as being due to the importance of the Victorian period in the development of both the novel and modern society, and both authors use and subvert the patterns and motifs of Victorian literature to comment on how traditional Victorian values (or what modern society believes to be so) continue to affect the contemporary world despite not necessarily commenting on the Victorians themselves. This thesis will demonstrate how the two writers make use of nineteenth century and Edwardian themes in their novels, even those that have no outward appearance of being ‘Neo-Victorian’. Atwood makes use of nineteenth-century Gothic to explore both personal and Canadian national identity in her novels, from the fin de siècle patterned invasion narratives of Surfacing and The Robber Bride and the dissection of Gothic romances in Lady Oracle to the considerations of history and the narrative form in The Blind Assassin. Carter also uses nineteenth-century literary forms and allusions to explore concerns of modern life; Victorian portrayals of madness form the bases of Several Perceptions and Love, turn-of-the-century conceptions of childhood inform The Magic Toyshop, and Gothic romantic fantasies are critiqued in Heroes and Villains and The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffmann, while Wise Children follows the decline of the British empire and its impact on the culture.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Victorian literature, Margaret Atwood, Angela Carter,
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Faculty / School / Research Centre / Research Group: Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences
Faculty of Liberal Arts & Sciences > School of Humanities & Social Sciences (HSS)
Last Modified: 01 Sep 2020 18:28

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics