All ETDs from UAB

Advisory Committee Chair

Daniel Siegel

Advisory Committee Members

Kyle Grimes

Bruce M McComiskey

Lisa Scherff

Gale Temple

Document Type


Date of Award


Degree Name by School

Master of Arts in Education (MAE) School of Education


The proposal scene, as utilized by Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, and Charles Dickens, is a volatile and instrumental moment in the course of the marriage plot. Entering the marriage conversation through the narrow window of the proposal scene provides a new understanding of the nineteenth-century British author's working commentary on marriage. In the nineteenth-century British novel, the marriage proposal becomes a finite moment that the author uses to encapsulate a couple's central challenge and/or crystallize one of the novel's prevailing tensions. Total bliss and contentment rarely appear in the proposal scene; in fact, more often than not, the proposal uncovers anxieties and reservations that may (1) prevent a perfect union or (2) signal the presence of larger concerns (related to gender, power, sexuality, self-expression, and/or religion) made pertinent by the proposal. Nineteenth-century British novelists exploit this moment in unexpected ways, oftentimes subtly revealing their discomfort with the "solution" of marriage in general. This thesis closely analyzes the proposal scenes in several nineteenth-century British novels, focusing on the eruptions that occur during the proposal moment and the impact of the proposal moment on the discourse of marriage that is woven through each novel.

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