AuthorHeinemann, Chloe Janelle
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
AbstractThe objective of this thesis is to argue for and analyze the progression of women's agency in the first century of Gothic literature. Starting with Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto (1764), there are stirrings of women's agency as female protagonists begin to challenge male authority and attempt to escape the entrapment of the patriarchal hierarchy. As we move from Otranto to Ann Radcliffe's The Mysteries of Udolpho (1794), we can see the progression of women's agency as the heroine acquires social, financial, and romantic control through her strong moral disposition. Finally, a new level of agency appears in Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre (1847), as the protagonist stands up to male authority and openly declares the idea that women should be treated equally with men. Women's agency continues to evolve in Gothic works of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as in Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca (1938) and the TV series Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997-2003), even if some limitations are still present. These works grant women more independent agency than ever before, but they also suggest that there are still constraints, even in the twenty-first century.