Date of Award
Master of Arts
In conclusion, this play, while literally acting out the dramatic scenes of a lover spurned, offers deeper insight to a woman's psyche. A feminist perspective offers an examination of the character Helena as a woman struggling with her identity that wars with societal standards placed upon her in the form of gender construction. Caroline Bowles demonstrates a quite radical appeal for women of the 19th century to reject these gender constraints. Though the play's end with Helena's forgiveness and fainting could be read as a confirmation of her inevitable feminine weakness, I argue another way out for Helena. Through her internal struggle, a transformation seems to take place, resulting in a literal confrontation with her sister Sophia, who represents that weak and feminine side of Helena. Further transformation explodes into a violent outburst resolved by a seeming acceptance of femininity, until Helena's internal war finally manifests itself in Nature, thus overwhelming her ascribed feminine "nature" and becoming omnipresent and overwhelming, consuming the garden and all temptation that lies within it.
Holly Michelle Hedberg
Hedberg, Holly Michelle, "The Struggle to the Storm: Identity and Agency Against Gender Construction in Caroline Bowles Southey's "Pride and Passion"" (2011). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 12184.