Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Theresa McGarry

Committee Members

Judith Slagle, Alan Thomas Holmes


In 1890, Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote a piece of fiction that reflected her personal experience for treatment of nervous exhaustion. The story she developed created controversy and comment after it was published and, years later, agitation among feminists who found allegories of truth in its narrative. This thesis explores the use of linguistic features employed by Gilman to establish cognitive connections between physical structures and social institutions, such as marriage and domesticity, that confine women within contractual obligations. Gilman’s use of extended metaphor challenges conventional conceptions of the home, inanimate objects, and institutional authority and her use of metonymy extrapolates examples from the particular to a wider review. The main findings of this inquiry reveal feminist opposition to women’s subjugated status in the marital relationship and to established hierarchies of male control. The literary analysis exposes the efficacy of narrative gap and textual silences in provoking the reader’s participation.

Document Type

Thesis - unrestricted


Copyright by the authors.