Term of Award

Summer 2017

Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (M.A.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Literature and Philosophy

Committee Chair

Caren Town

Committee Member 1

David Dudley

Committee Member 2

Olivia Carr Edenfield


Rebecca Harding Davis, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Mary Wilkins Freeman challenge the way that society treats and views the disabled and deformed. Through different representations of the disabled characters, the three short stories by these authors reveal the realities that women faced in the 19th century in response to rigid beauty standards and expectations. The authors in this study address the marginalized position of the disabled characters and show how society’s attempts to “normalize” the women confine them to a fixed identity. Analyzing the texts in relation to disability studies and the authors’ perceived effectiveness of social charity will show how 19th-century society’s fixation on the female appearance and suppressed disabled-women’s identities and autonomy.

Research Data and Supplementary Material