Graduation Date

Summer 2017

Document Type



Master of Arts degree with a major in English, emphasis in Literary & Cultural Studies

First Committee Member Name

Mary Ann Creadon

First Committee Member Email

First Committee Member Affililation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Second Committee Member Name

Michael Eldridge

Second Committee Member Email

Second Committee Member Affililation

HSU Faculty or Staff

Subject Categories



In this project, I examine three major British works of literature produced in the last two decades of the nineteenth century: Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure. I show that these works reflect popular trends and fears that arose during this time, including notions of decadence and fears of degeneration. Using Julia Kristeva’s conception of abjection, as described in her work Powers of Horror, I argue that developments throughout the Victorian era: namely the advent of the theory of evolution, the rise and expansion of large-scale industrialization, and the moral and economic benefits and ramifications of global colonization, ultimately led to social and individual insecurities that reverberated throughout popular literature of the time. I conclude that these cultural attitudes and insecurities can be seen reflected in works of literature and in their depiction of characters and behaviors whose self-abjection are a reflection of a society with an unstable self-image.

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