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The Strength of Separateness: A study of five women characters in five novels from two centuries


  • Sofia Wahlstedt

Summary, in English

This thesis investigates the traditional role of women in society through looking at five novels about women by women. To establish what a woman’s traditional place is this thesis compares Coventry Patmore’s poem “The Angel in the House” to Virginia Woolf’s speech “Professions for Women.” It then goes on to analyze the main women characters of five literary works that demonstrate and counter this traditional and dominant view. The novels are Villette by Charlotte Brontë (1853), To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf (1927), Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936), Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937) and Violet Clay by Gail Godwin (1978). Through analyzing the heroines and their environment the texts reveal that it is difficult for women to reach autonomy within a relationship and because of this many of them choose to have a better life as a single woman. The texts also show that the women’s environments have difficulty in allowing them autonomy and that other women encourage them to marry in order to have their life choices of marriage and choosing a man over themselves validated.


Publishing year




Document type

Student publication for Master's degree (two years)


  • Languages and Literatures


  • Birgitta Berglund (FD)