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Adaptive Transformations: Nineteenth-Century Stage Adaptations of Nineteenth-Century Novels / AMY HOLLEY-CRIBBIN

Swansea University Author: AMY HOLLEY-CRIBBIN

DOI (Published version): 10.23889/Suthesis.55953

Abstract

This study analyses nineteenth-century stage adaptations of Victorian novels. It argues that doing so, provides an important insight into the way that nineteenth-century society engaged with and responded to proto-feminism. A selection of nineteenth-century stage adaptations of three novels, which w...

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Published: Swansea 2020
Institution: Swansea University
Degree level: Doctoral
Degree name: Ph.D
Supervisor: Barnaby, Alice
URI: https://cronfa.swan.ac.uk/Record/cronfa55953
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Abstract: This study analyses nineteenth-century stage adaptations of Victorian novels. It argues that doing so, provides an important insight into the way that nineteenth-century society engaged with and responded to proto-feminism. A selection of nineteenth-century stage adaptations of three novels, which were both popular at the time and have subsequently become canonical, are analysed. The thesis focuses on how dramatists responded to the germinal proto-feminist elements in the novel when they transferred the plot of the original source to the stage. In Chapter One, the issue of female agency is looked at in the nineteenth century stage adaptations of Jane Eyre. Chapter Two focuses on the figure of the ‘fallen woman’ in the shape of Isabel Vane, Mrs Henry Wood’s central figure in East Lynne. Finally, in Chapter Three the complex issue of madness, criminal culpability and femininity is examined in the stage adaptations of Mary Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret. Despite the attention devoted to the novels by feminist critics, the study of these popular adaptations has received comparatively little attention. One of the plays examined in this thesis has never been examined at an academic level before (The Mystery of Audley Court by John Brougham 1866). Building on the pioneering work of Patsy Stoneman, this thesis contributes to the growing interest in popular plays. The argument of this thesis is that by studying popular adaptations it is possible from both a New Historicist and a proto-feminist perspective to identify how nineteenth-century society engaged with and responded to proto-feminism. The key findings of this thesis are to do with the amount of license that the dramatists gave themselves as they went about adapting the original source to the stage, for example, the characteristics of the main characters are altered, characters are omitted and new characters are created and inserted into the plot, themes are removed or highlighted and it is the argument of this thesis that those changes were made due to contemporaneous events.
Item Description: A selection of third party content is redacted or is partially redacted from this thesis.
Keywords: Adaptation Theory, Stage Adaptations, English Literature, Victorian Studies, New Historicism, Cultural Materialism, Proto-Feminism, Feminist Theory, Literary Theory
College: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences