Access Type

Open Access Dissertation

Date of Award

January 2015

Degree Type


Degree Name




First Advisor

Michael Scrivener


"Sowing Seeds of Subversion: Nineteenth-Century British Women Writers' Subversive Use of Fairy Tales and Folklore" focuses on the fictional works of nineteenth-century British women authors, analyzing their use of fairy-tale and folklore motifs to criticize social mores, in particular those surrounding domestic ideology and the institution of marriage. By situating texts within their sociocultural contexts, I explore how nineteenth-century women authors revised and adapted classic fairy tales to communicate subversive, proto-feminist social criticism to a variety of audiences. I examine fiction and poetry published in literary annuals, in fairy-tale collections, and in the more generally available collections of poetry and short stories as deconstructions of hegemonic fantasies regarding ideals of femininity and domesticity as well as the delusion that woman's desires can be completely satisfied in marriage. Ultimately, this dissertation reveals a missing link in the tradition of subversive fairy tales by women inaugurated by the seventeenth-century French conteuses and continued by contemporary feminist fairy-tale authors like Anne Sexton and Angela Carter.