Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

MA in English



First Advisor

Amy King

Second Advisor

Granville Ganter


This thesis attempts to prove that the diagnosing and treatment of mental illness in Victorian Anglo-American literature was heavily gendered and therefore misogynistic. To do so, four characters will be studied: Lady Audley in Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s Lady Audley’s Secret, the unnamed female narrator in Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, Edna Pontellier in Kate Chopin’s The Awakening, and Septimus Warren Smith in Virginia Woolf’s Mrs. Dalloway. Using the first three characters I intend to show that women during the nineteenth century were diagnosed as mentally ill because they did not partake in social gender norms, deviating by doing something as insignificant as writing to something as heinous as attempted murder. I will then present Septimus as a feminized male for the same reasons the women were considered mentally ill; Septimus did not adhere to male social norms because of his mental illness.