The Hero’s and Heroine’s Journey in Victorian Literature

Modules: see module overview – PS Lit
PS, 2 SWS, Fr 10-12
WS 2021 / 2022
Universität Bayreuth

In narratives, the deeds of a hero are often depicted in the form of a hero’s journey. This mostly male endeavour makes the hero go through different stages and grow as a personality in the process. In this seminar, we will focus on the Victorian age, a time of innovation, and the way writers of the time portrayed the development of their literary heroes and heroines. The selected works we will discuss are outstanding in the way they feature the process of growth. They range from Helen Huntingdon, the strong heroine of The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, who was shocking to Victorian readers because of her choices and her handling of a troubled marriage, to Dorian Gray as a Gothic subversion of the hero’s journey with a tragic ending.

Texts to be obtained by students: Arthur Conan Doyle, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1902); Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891); Anne Brontë, The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848); Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865)