Document Type

Honors Project - Open Access

Abstract

This project examines novels by Kate Chopin, Edith Wharton, Virginia Woolf, and Nella Larsen featuring female characters who contemplate or commit suicide. Relying on a composite theoretical framework that weaves together geography theories of spaces as well as gendered theories of bodies by authors like Judith Butler, Rita Felski, and Victoria Rosner, I argue women commit suicide because their modern homes fail to accommodate their gendered bodies. Focusing less on the moment of death than on the conditions that make choosing to live impossible, this project tracks how, during a moment of supposed liberation, conceptions of gender, modernity, and domestic space coalesce to situate women’s bodies in liminal, unlivable homes. The escalating complexity and progressively blurred agency of the suicides in these novels reflects an expanding understanding of how the modern era muddles and destabilizes relationships between bodies and spaces, especially female bodies and homes.

 
 

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