Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)

Program

English

Date of Award

8-2005

Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Mark Holland

Committee Members

Ronald K. Giles, Robert Sawyer

Abstract

Often overlooked in the study of nineteenth-century American literature, the New England writer Rose Terry Cooke elicited great popular appeal during the peak of her career. The admiration Cooke received from her readers and fellow writers compels one to question Cooke’s present-day obscurity. Cooke’s fiction and poetry seem inconsistent with the attitudes she express in her non-fiction, particularly concerning religion and women’s suffrage. She portrays women in miserable marriages, desperately looking for an escape. These “brides of Bluebeard” find different ways to cope with their predicament. While most never truly escape, many use (1) religious devotion, (2) masochism, and (3) homosocial relations as “coping mechanisms” in their plight. I identify each of these reactions to Bluebeard figures in Cooke’s writing in order to understand the contradictions in her works, for, like Cooke, these brides were products of their culture, torn between duty to self and duty to others.

Document Type

Thesis - Open Access

Copyright

Copyright by the authors.

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