Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Judith B. Slagle

Committee Members

Karen L. Cajka, William Styron Harris Jr.


The Gothic novel plays on the exaggeration of prescribed sex roles and uses various narrative techniques to produce a social commentary on gender politics and to illustrate the consequences of a destroyed social structure. Through the examination of the construct of the Gothic narrative and its fragmentary style, the novels of Horace Walpole, Elizabeth Inchbald, and Jane Austen reveal similar treatments of the sexuality of their characters. The implementation of key Gothic elements—such as the castle, tyrannical father, and distressed damsel—serve to propel the novels’ questioning of the patriarchal system, the theme of women as commodities, and the economic value of sexuality. In addition to creating bizarre atmospheres of suspense and mystery, the authors artfully weave the fantastic elements of the Gothic into real responses to the changing culture and sexual anxiety of eighteenth-century England.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.