Honors Program

Honors in English

Date of Award


Thesis Professor(s)

Joshua S. Reid

Thesis Professor Department

Literature and Language

Thesis Reader(s)

Phyllis A. Thompson


Women’s subjugation to the objectification of men is a traced theme throughout the history of Western culture. In this thesis, the attributes of the male gaze will be explored via the patriarchal pioneers of literature: Dante to Petrarch to Shakespeare. The solidification of the male gaze takes place during the late middle ages as Dante Alighieri writes an infatuated love for Beatrice throughout La Vita Nuova and Inferno, demonstrating the virgin-whore dichotomy with Francesca. Similarly, Francesco Petrarch’s poetry of Rime Sparse describes the objectification and dismantling of woman for erotic pleasure and patriarchal power. The shift from early to late renaissance displays William Shakespeare’s presentation of women in Titus Andronicus, Othello, and Hamlet as a denunciation of women through the male gaze. These themes of patriarchy developed throughout historic literature will help us analyze media advertisements today as women are silenced, dismembered, and exhibited through the male gaze.


East Tennessee State University

Document Type

Honors Thesis - Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
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