Graduation Year


Date of Submission


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Ellen Rentz

Reader 2

Isabel Balseiro

Rights Information

© 2015 Tamara H. Savage


This thesis analyzes the speaking and silencing of two female characters, Beatrice from Dante’s Vita Nuova and Purgatorio and Susan from J. M. Coetzee’s Foe. The texts are viewed through postcolonial and feminist lenses to show the problems with male characters speaking for female characters and the obstacles the female characters face when attempting to speak. Dante’s solution to this problem is to transform Beatrice from a silent and demure woman into a character who issues commands with a powerful voice. Coetzee’s solution is instead to refuse to provide a solution, since no one but Susan can speak for her. This thesis describes the different roles that Susan and Beatrice take on in order to gain authority and tell their true stories. The relationships of the male and female characters are explored, as well as their relationships to speaking, silence, revision, truth, and meaning.