Publication Date

April 2019

Advisor(s)

Stephanie Weiner

Major

English

Language

English (United States)

Abstract

This thesis examines the multifaceted interconnections between three very different works of literature: a play by Shakespeare, a novel by Sir Walter Scott, and a “novel cookbook” by Christine Isobel Johnstone. In my first chapter, I show how the plot and characters of Saint Ronan’s Well parallel and invert those of Shakespeare’s play Measure for Measure. I argue that Scott deliberately rewrites the play and its cavalier treatment of female suffering under patriarchy as an unequivocal tragedy. In doing so, he criticizes nineteenth-century structures of male power and advocates the importance of respecting female agency. My second chapter introduces The Cook and Housewife’s Manual as the third text and genre to this chain of feminist intertextual critique. In this chapter, I explore the ways in which Meg Dods models Johnstone’s vision of a more empowered social role for women and thus serves as the perfect frontwoman for a cookbook that invites men and women alike to recognize women’s cultural and political significance. I also examine how, like Saint Ronan’s Well, the genre of A Cook and Housewife’s Manual endorses its feminist message. Ultimately, I present a chain of intertextual dialogue in which every successive literary link becomes a bolder critique of woman’s place in society and in which every change of genre implicitly endorses its feminist message.

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