Description: Nineteenth-century women were a mainstay in the New England literary tradition, both as readers and authors. Indeed, women were a large part of a growing reading public, a public that distanced itself from Puritanism and developed an appetite for novels and magazine short stories. It was a culture that survived in spite of patriarchal domination of the female in social and literary status. This dissertation is a study of selected works from Nathaniel Hawthorne, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Mary E. Wilkins Freeman that show their fiction as a protest against a patriarchal society. The premise of this study is based on analyzing these works from a protest (not necessarily a feminist) view, which leads to these conclusions: rejection of the male suitor and of marriage was a protest against patriarchal institutions that purposely restricted females from realizing their potential. Furthermore, it is often the case that industrialism and abuses of male authority in selected works by Jewett and Freeman are symbols of male-driven forces that oppose the autonomy of the female. Thus my argument is that protest fiction of the nineteenth century quietly promulgates an agenda of independence for the female. It is an agenda that encourages the woman to operate beyond standard stereotypes furthered by patriarchal attitudes. I assert that Jewett and Freeman are, in fact, inheritors of Hawthorne's literary tradition, which spawned the first fully-developed, independent American heroine: Hester Prynne.
Date: August 1994
Creator: Adams, Dana W. (Dana Wills)
Partner: UNT Libraries