Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. Jil Larson

Second Advisor

Dr. Elizabeth Hoger


With the rise of industrialization, migration to cities, and changes in lifestyle, Victorian England was filled with questions of family stability and moral expectations. Scholars delved into the debate over change in newspaper articles, church sermons, and certainly the novels of the era. Writers such as George Eliot and the Bronte sisters expounded on questions of family values. More specifically, these writers, and hundreds of others, explored the idea of family loyalty through a variety of characters. The characters separate into three groups which all fare differently, according to the depth of their loyalty to family. In many of the novels, doomed characters exist without a bit of loyalty towards their families. Others can find a perfect balance of loyalty and integrity. In a few cases, though, characters meet their tragic end because they take loyalty to family so far that they ignore their own moral code. Through an analysis of novels by George Eliot, Thomas Hardy, and Charlotte Bronte, I will prove that only those who are loyal to their family but still maintain moral integrity have a chance to flourish.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only