Term of Award

Spring 2020

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

Dustin Anderson

Committee Member 1

Caren Town

Committee Member 2

Howard Keeley


At the end of the nineteenth century, playwrights grew more interested in exploring the ramifications of the gaze, looking and being looked at. For existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre, the gaze causes a never-ending battle between our subjective selves, how we view ourselves, and our objective selves, or how others view us. The knowledge of the Other’s gaze allows us to self-reflect on our own existence. Sartre and Oscar Wilde each incorporate the gaze into their plays to explore the battle between our subjective and objective selves, gendered perception, differences in perception, and to undercut or demonstrates the dominant structures of seeing. By first exploring Sartre’s No Exit, I can observe how Sartre’s three main characters demonstrate Mulvey’s theories of the male gaze, a structure of looking which is influenced by the dominant social order. His play offers an exploration of Hélène Cixous’ theories on perception, particularly regarding gendered perceptions, and the existential battle between our self-image (being-for-itself) and the Other’s perception of ourselves (being-for-others). Wilde’s play, on the other hand, allows us to see what comes before Sartre and how his play undercuts the patriarchal nature of the stage and goes against Mulvey’s concept of the male gaze.

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Research Data and Supplementary Material