Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Jeffrey N. Cox

Second Advisor

Beverly Weber

Third Advisor

Sue Zemka

Abstract

The Roma have a complicated history with the Western world that is less explored in scholarship than other racialized groups. Previous scholarship has failed to examine the ways in which Roma, or the Gypsy as it appears in these texts, have been misconstrued into a literary phenomenon that has little or no relevance to the people that identify as Roma. This analysis focuses on Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre and George Eliot's The Mill on the Floss to critique the methods of Victorian authors in using the Gypsy figure in literature as representing the Roma in Victorian England. The tools each author uses to create the Gypsy figure align with the colonizing efforts of Victorian Britain. This study is pertinent as the Roma in the twenty-first century continue to face extreme discrimination and misrepresentation ascribed to the ideas constructed and perpetuated in the literary trope of the Gypsy.