Dealing with Death: The Romanticising of Tuberculosis in Three Victorian Novels

University essay from Lunds universitet/Engelska

Abstract: The purpose of this essay is to investigate whether the characters of Charlotte Brontë’s and Elizabeth Gaskell’s novels Jane Eyre, North and South and Ruth romanticise tuberculosis, how the disease was romanticised, and what qualities the affected characters had to possess to die from the disease. Major and minor characters who contract the disease are scrutinised, as well as the characters surrounding them, to get a satisfactory picture of the romanticising. To better account for the contemporary ideals and values, the main focus is on beauty paradigms, goodness and religion. To investigate this above, the novels are scrutinised separately, summarised together in one section, and lastly a conclusion is presented. I anticipate that the characters indeed romanticise the disease, and that to die from it, you had to be a good person.

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