Date of Award


Document Type


Primary Advisor

Alisa DeBorde

Second Advisor

Dr. Linda Linzey


This thesis examines the Edna Pontellier and Lily Bart, the respective protagonists of Kate Chopin’s The Awakening and Edith Wharton’s The House of Mirth, integrating the theoretical concept of the sublime, particularly engaging Barbara Freemans’s idea of a feminine sublime, as discussed in her book, The Feminine Sublime: Gender and Excess in Women’s Fiction. In three chapters, the thesis provides an overview and brief history of the theory of the sublime, contextualizing Freeman’s argument, and measures the success of both Edna’s and Lily’s attempts to engage the sublime as they each struggle to find their place as women in early twentieth-century society.