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Gothic legacies

Jane Eyre in Elizabeth Stoddard’s New England

Anne-Marie Ford

This chapter explores the way in which Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Stoddard deploy Gothic conventions. It considers common and varied representations of woman's psycho-social oppression, and erotic nature. The chapter shows the ways in which the transatlantic borrowings of Stoddard create a rich and unnerving novel that refuses to embrace conventional models of femininity. Stoddard out of a New England world in some ways less socially restrictive than that of Brontë's native Yorkshire, was to celebrate the sensual nature of her heroine with a marked independence. Stoddard's use of British and American Gothic traditions and her engagement with Jane Eyre result in an extraordinarily candid and surprising novel, which still resonates with readers. Brontë and Stoddard both borrow from, and adapt, the romantic Gothic tradition of the British writer Ann Radcliffe's Mysteries of Udolpho.