Dissertations and Theses

Date of Award


Document Type




First Advisor

Renata Kobetts Miller

Second Advisor

Amir Ahmadi


Hysteria; Madness; Females; Doctors; Conflict; Subjugation.


In this research paper, I intend to focus on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper (1892) and Sigmund Freud’s Dora: An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria (written in 1900 and published in 1905), with an aim to represent the prevailing attitudes of men, especially male physicians, towards women in the Victorian era. I intend to demonstrate how the Victorian social system placed women in a subordinate position through patriarchal ideals of femininity and unapologetically labeled them “insane” if their behavior and personality dared deviate from the prevailing social norms and conventions. In addition, I hope to shed light on the way male authority figures attempted to control women’s growing demands and desires and perpetuated the patriarchal ideology of “separate spheres” through the feminization of mental illness and the stigmatization of female sexuality. Both The Yellow Wallpaper and Dora provide us with prominent examples of women who are labeled “insane” or “hysterical” as they rebel against traditional gender roles and male dominance in the public sphere; additionally, both texts demonstrate the way psychiatry can be used as a tool to discourage women from having their own free will and achieving personal liberty. Thus in my thesis paper, I hope to focus on the institutional domination and oppression of women through culturally constructed notions of femininity and mental illness.



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