Irish Female Gothic Fiction: A Study of the Fiction of Regina Maria Roche and Sydney Owenson
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The purpose of this study is to identify whether some of Sydney Owenson’s and Regina Maria Roche’s work should be considered as examples of Irish Female Gothic. Through a close study of four novels by Owenson and Roche, I explore the usefulness of the category Irish Female Gothic to account for certain characteristics of their work which does not align with current definitions of Gothic, Irish Gothic or Female Gothic. This study also expands upon current knowledge of Gothic fiction, Irish Gothic fiction, Female Gothic fiction, and Owenson’s and Roche’s work.In this thesis I show that Owenson’s and Roche’s novels can be considered as part of a Gothic, Irish Gothic and Female Gothic tradition because the novels feature certain characteristics from each genre. I discuss certain features common to Owenson’s and Roche’s work, such as their portrayal of the gothic heroine, and the spaces the heroine inhabits, the Absent Mother figure, the banshee and sovereignty goddess, and representations of Irish landscape. Through this study, I identify certain themes and features in Owenson’s and Roche’s work that differ from the features of Gothic, Irish Gothic and Female Gothic fictions, to show why the category of Irish Female Gothic needs to be considered. Such divergent characteristics include the heroine, her sensibilities, the representation of religious institutions and the persistent portrayal of alternate, egalitarian societies for women, themes of religious intolerance, improving colonial relations, highlighting the similarities in societal status between the Gaelic-Irish and women as oppressed people, and representing the struggle to maintain a Celtic identity within a British Union.The results of this study reveal that Owenson’s and Roche’s work should be considered as a part of an Irish Female Gothic genre, as the unique themes and characteristics found in their works cannot be contained under such terms as Gothic, Irish Gothic or Female Gothic. This study also highlights the need for a gender-nuanced approach to studies of Irish Gothic fiction and opens up possibilities for further discussion and study of Irish Female Gothic fiction.
KeywordsRegina Maria Roche