Identity is a presupposed notion of individual qualities or beliefs that are inherent in one's character. However, through the application of Mikhail Bakhtin's theory of dialogism and discourse, this thesis argues that the representations of identity found in Antigone, The Awakening, and The House of Mirth are born out of experience with society rather than something innate. Following the trail of discourse, the female protagonist in each text develops a discourse that each character remains loyal to even in the face of social adversity. While their suicides may appear to end their dialogue with society, the ethical meaning of their deaths and its reflection on their discourse shapes the future outlook of the remaining characters in each text. Moreover, by choosing death for their female protagonist, each author enters into an inferred dialogue with their audience that highlights a moral value that resonates with readers because each text is reflective of its contemporary social hierarchy and customs.


English & Comparative Literature Department

Degree Name

MA in English & Comparative Literature

Graduation Date


Submission Date

May 2012

First Advisor

Dworkin, Ira

Second Advisor

Melaney, William



Document Type

Master's Thesis

Library of Congress Subject Heading 1

Feminism and literature -- History and criticism.

Library of Congress Subject Heading 2

Women and literature -- History and criticism.


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item