Date of Defense




First Advisor

Dr. Philip Egan

Second Advisor

Dr. John Cooley

Third Advisor

Dr. John Martell


By the turn of the century women were beginning to shed the Victorian ideals. A growing number actively pursued higher education, spoke for suffrage rights, and sought to expand their horizons beyond the home. Mark Twain experienced this uprising on a personal level; not only did his wife and friends champion suffrage, but his daughters engaged in educational and ambitious pursuits. Consequently, his works reflect his interest in changing social ideas. My paper discusses Twain's experimentation with gender in his relatively lesser-known stories: Wapping Alice, "Hellfire Hotchkiss," and "A Horse's Tale," plus the now disregarded Joan of Arc. While his celebrated The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer portray weak girls, his later writings move toward applauding assertive females. For instance, Joan of Arc was a popular topic in the late 1800s, and Twain made use of Joan's popularity by writing Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc in 1896. The character of Joan combines Becky Thatcher's dependent femininity with Tom Sawyer's male courage and leadership. Although Twain supported women's rights, his powerful female characters rarely lived past puberty. My paper explores the personal and social aspects that caused Twain to ultimately force his valiant women into submission.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Campus Only