Graduation Year


Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Michelle Decker

Reader 2

Tessie Prakas

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This thesis examines the constructions of madness and hysteria as diagnoses used to subjugate the protagonists in Bessie Head’s A Question of Power and Kate Chopin’s The Awakening. In juxtaposing these texts, themes including “lone womanhood” surface to identify both protagonists’ means for liberation from patriarchal and colonialist oppression. While for Edna of The Awakening, liberation from the hysteria diagnosis comes through bodily sovereignty, A Question of Power’s Elizabeth is freed from the madness rendering by reclaiming her mental interiority.

This thesis is restricted to the Claremont Colleges current faculty, students, and staff.