Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Kevin L. Cope


Employing attachment theory of contemporary psychology, I explore nurturing in the novels of Fanny Burney, Ann Radcliffe, and Ellen Price Wood. The heroines' need for nurturing manifests itself in diverse aspects of the genre. In the mother's absence, various attachment figures, such as guardians, surrogate mothers, sister/friend relationships serve as nurturer. In Fanny Burney's novels, Evelina, Cecilia, and The Wanderer, fortune and a family name become important societal goals. Joyce Hemlow's and Margaret Doody's works supply criticism and biographical data. In Radcliffe's Gothic novels, The Mysteries of Udolpho, and The Italian, the heroines' attachment bond is analyzed using Ellen Moers' Gothic studies in Literary Women. The Victorian novel advances the "angel in the house" theme: glorification of the wife/mother. Ellen Price Wood's East Lynne demonstrates a woman's fall, her retribution, and her return as nurturer of her children. The nurturance theme evolves from contemporary psychology and "attachment theory," an "affectional tie" one person forms to another, binding them in space and enduring over time. Although based on biological factors, proponents emphasize relevance of "protection." Nurturing, cherishing, and protecting form a foundation in the maturation process. Psychologist John Bowlby's A Secure Base and Attachment and Loss serve as a basis for this study. Mary D. Ainsworth, who strongly supports this theory, provides background in Review of Child Development Research. The primary attachment can be transferred to others when an individual loses this bond or finds himself in a chaotic or frightening situation. Michael Lamb's work on transference and father/child relationship in The Role of the Father in Child Development, as well as D. W. Winnicott's clinical studies in Psycho-Analytic Explorations are applied. Freud and Melanie Klein provide background for Bowlby's psycho-analytic theory. Nancy Chodorow's theories, discussed in The Reproduction of Mothering feature how "women's mothering is reproduced across generations.". Some feminist writing emphasizes the way women's role has been downplayed; I show how the maternal role is uplifted and how the nurturing quality upgrades the feminine. The novels merge at a common interface: the heroines receive nurturing necessary for the maturation process.