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Degree Name

MA (Master of Arts)



Date of Award


Committee Chair or Co-Chairs

Judith B. Slagle

Committee Members

William Styron Harris Jr., Ernest J. Branscomb


Through four novelists from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries-Haywood, Defoe, Austen, and Chopin-this work examines the way the mother's importance evolves throughout literature. In Haywood's works, motherhood is seen as a dominant force in her child's life, but not a dominant force in society. Defoe approaches motherhood in a dramatically different way; for him, motherhood is secondary to financial security, and this opinion is reflected in the lives and actions of his characters. In spite of the absence of a maternal influence, Austen's characters do not experience true hardship in the way that Haywood's and Defoe's do. However, their lives are adversely affected by this absence. Chopin's protagonist has never experienced a maternal influence, and this absence has dramatically affected her life. She is unsure about what she wants from life, and this knowledge, along with her realization of society's restrictions upon her, ultimately leads to her suicide.

Document Type

Thesis - restricted


Copyright by the authors.