Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Kimberly Manganelli

Committee Member

Dr. Cameron Bushnell

Committee Member

Dr. Clare Mullaney


Through a comparison of Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre and Jean Rhys’s novel Wide Sargasso Sea, I explore the connection between the physical spaces the female protagonists of these novels have access to and the effects these spaces have on their mental states. This analysis is framed around how these two female characters interact with the physical spaces that are accessible to them and how these spaces allow them to gain or strip them of autonomy. By basing this analysis on the ideals and values that women were expected to display and uphold in Victorian society, I compare and contrast the narratives of Brontë’s Jane Eyre and Rhys’s Antoinette Cosway, the proper English woman and the Creole woman, to depict the influence of physical space on the mental state of these female characters. Jane’s ability to move throughout the physical spaces within her narrative enables her to maintain her sense of self and construct a sound identity that allows her free choice. While Antionette’s identity is dependent on her existence within the West Indies, her removal from this location strips her of this identity, thus, rendering her choiceless once the unnamed man brings her to England. As these two women differ from one another in class standing, financial wealth, racial identity, and family ties, they are granted or denied access to entirely different spaces within their narratives.

Available for download on Saturday, May 31, 2025