Two Centuries Of Women In Fiction And The Sea: Exploring Gender Roles And Psychological Health In Anglo-American Female Characters
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This thesis analyzes the connection between the sea and the female identity as used in 19th and 20th century literature. Examining the works of Jane Austen, Charlotte Bronte, Charlotte Gilman, Kate Chopin and Virginia Woolf reveals the various ways these authors used ocean imagery to examine gender roles in their times.Historical context of women’s psychological health is crucial in order to fully understand the evolution of gender roles through these time periods. The Victorian Era experienced a revolutionary social shift in the domestication of madness, which led to a sharp decline in women’s autonomy over their own mental health. More than ever before, women were strictly confined in their own home or asylums at the mercy of male authority figures in their lives. The domestication of madness influenced some women authors to explore the female identity in their writing, using the ocean as a medium to explore topics like sexuality and independence. This thesis is also in part a creative thesis. Inspired by Virginia Woolf’s The Waves, poems act as interludes between sections and an original short story, Salt, acts as the final section to reflect the ocean’s reflection of the present-?day female identity.