Victim or Perpetrator? An Examination of Diseased Female Characters in Nineteenth Century Latin America Romantic and Naturalist Novels
PublisherThe University of Arizona.
RightsCopyright © is held by the author. Digital access to this material is made possible by the University Libraries, University of Arizona. Further transmission, reproduction or presentation (such as public display or performance) of protected items is prohibited except with permission of the author.
AbstractWith the goal of understanding how women are viewed when they are sick, I researched Latin American literature written in the 1800s. I chose the two Romantic works María and Carmen and the two naturalist pieces Nelly and ¿Inocentes o Culpables? Novela Naturalista because of the predominant theme of disease in these writings. I examined representations of ill female characters to elucidate how some Latin American nineteenth century authors viewed sicknesses in women. In comparing the illness of the female protagonists, I found that in both periods, the etiology of illness in women posits that it derives from the nature of their gender. I also discovered a crucial difference between the women’s portrayal in the romantic and naturalist novels. In the two romantic stories, the women are portrayed as innocent victims of their diseases; while in the two naturalist pieces, the females are rendered as guilty creators of their own disorders. Along the way, I observed that ethnicity sometimes functions much like gender - as influential in determining the supposed origin of sickness. I also discovered that medical science is used to back up these socially constructed explanations of disease.
Degree ProgramHonors College