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Thomas Library

Honors Thesis Archive

Author Katelyn Stewart
Title The Difficulty of Protecting Without Enslaving: The Denial of Women's Education as seen in Augusta Webster's Dramatic Monologues
Department English
Advisors Robin Inboden, Cynthia Richards, and Tammy Proctor
Year 2010
Honors Departmental Honors
Full Text View Thesis (162 KB)
Abstract Most people are not aware of the Victorian poet Augusta Webster, and had many of her contemporary critics had their way, we still wouldn't. Born the daughter of a middle-class family, Webster felt firsthand the restrictions placed on her growing intellect due to her gender, and consequently, the oppression of women became a major theme in her writing. Webster's personal life and literary work continued to challenge the limitations set for women in Victorian society. Perhaps Webster's strength was also her ability to communicate without the limitations of gender or social class, which was not expected, nor completely esteemed coming from a female poet who was supposed to represent the "angel of the house." Webster's dramatic monologues illuminate the double layer of hypocrisy concerning Victorian oppression of women under the guise of protection. "The Happiest Girl in the World," "Tired," and "A Castaway" serve as a warning of the psychological repercussions from sheltering women, especially to the middle-class as their limited privilege but lofty pretenses often churned out the most vulnerable in society—women with high expectations but no means to support themselves.

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