Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Cheryl Nixon

Second Advisor

Louise Penner

Third Advisor

Betsy Kilmasmith


The relationship of mothers and daughters in the three novels were examined. Two questions were examined 1) how much power does a mother hold over the moral construct and future of her daughter and 2) how did the respective female authors examine and illustrate these relationships and this power? Historical and critical sources were used to explore whether or not mothers held absolute power over the future of their daughters and, if their power was not absolute, how much power and influence did they hold. Societal constructs for women at the time were examined as well as societal beliefs. The maternal relationships in each of the novels were examined in the framework of these constructs to see how each female author chose to illustrate the power and influence of the mother over the daughter as well as the societal constraints faced by women at the time. My research shows that while the female authors did not ultimately support the theory of absolute maternal responsibility, to various degrees they did support the idea of significant maternal responsibility and power of the daughter's future. I also show that each author believed that societal beliefs and constructs of the time also held great power and influence over a woman's future, and that in many ways women were held in subservience by society, and this subservience was passed from mother to daughter.


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