Thesis Title

A Contextual Analysis of Female Education and Discursive Power in Margaret Cavendish's Dramas, the Female Academy and Youths Glory and Deaths Banquet

Date of Graduation

Summer 2000


Master of Arts in English



Committee Chair

William Burling


Critics, sacrificing a complete, contextual portrait of Margaret Cavendish in order to claim her as a feminist, have failed to appreciate the ambiguous, female response to seventeenth-century, male imposed gender constraints demonstrated in her work. Self-conscious of her own subjugation to male sanction in attempting to gain the fame she desires, Cavendish specifically uses her dramas The Female Academy and Youths Glory and Deaths Banquet to explore both feminine compliance and male-sanctioned non-compliance in an attempt to create public arenas in which female discursive power can be made a virtue. These plays, concluding that female autonomy cannot be achieved without the complete re-visioning of gender constraints, reflects the conflicting, self-fashioned authorial presentations Cavendish invented in order to fulfill her personal desire for fame.

Subject Categories

English Language and Literature


© Rhonda R Powers