Persistent phantoms: the supernatural in victorian fiction as metaphor for an age of transition

Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Meri-Jane Rochelson

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Bruce A. Harvey

Third Advisor's Name

Mary Jane Elkins

Date of Defense



The purpose of this study is to explore the reasons for the great outpouring of high-quality supernatural fiction that appeared in late Victorian Britain and how these stories were influenced by contemporaneous technological, sociological and cultural changes. For this purpose, a number of literary works from the period have been chosen for review and analysis. In addition, numerous historical and critical texts have been consulted for their ability to illuminate and comment upon the significance of the fictional works. Results indicate that Victorian supernatural fiction reflected Victorian attitudes toward and anxieties about their changing world, leading to the conclusion that it served Victorians both as a refuge from their anxieties and as an opportunity to confront their problems imaginatively during a time of transition.



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