The Bildungsroman in Nineteenth-Century Literature Criticism: Female Bildungsromane - Essay

John H. Smith (essay date fall 1987)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Smith, John H. “Cultivating Gender: Sexual Difference, Bildung, and the Bildungsroman.Michigan Germanic Studies 13, no. 2 (fall 1987): 206-25.

[In the following essay, Smith suggests that Bildungsromane rarely end happily because they are characterized to some extent by the protagonist's unfulfilled desire in relation to a female other. The critic also maintains that Bildungsromane necessarily have a male protagonist because the genre requires that the hero have full access to (patriarchal) societal structures.]


An MLA special session (New York, 1986)—“Generic Fiction or...

(The entire section is 8959 words.)

Denise Kohn (essay date spring 1995)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Kohn, Denise. “Reading Emma as a Lesson on ‘Ladyhood’: A Study in the Domestic Bildungsroman.Essays in Literature 22, no. 1 (spring 1995): 45-58.

[In the following essay, Kohn suggests that Emma is an example of a Bildungsroman in which a heroine's education and development as a lady are achieved in a domestic setting rather than through a quest.]

Emma can be a problematic novel for the modern reader—especially for the feminist reader. On the one hand, feminist critics have lauded Jane Austen for her critique of the marriage market and exposition of the problems of female independence in the late eighteenth and...

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Lorna Ellis (essay date 1999)

(Nineteenth-Century Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: Ellis, Lorna. “Jane Eyre and the Self-Constructed Heroine.” In Appearing to Diminish: Female Development and the British Bildungsroman, 1750-1850, pp. 138-61. Lewisburg, Pa. and London: Bucknell University Press and Associated University Presses, 1999.

[In the following essay, Ellis contends that Jane Eyre, along with Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Betsy Thoughtless, conforms to the female Bildungsroman genre by presenting a heroine who manages to develop and grow while upholding the expectations of society. In addition, Ellis remarks that Jane Eyre is notable for Jane's profound sense of self, which paves the way for later...

(The entire section is 10104 words.)