Date of Award

Spring 2021

Degree Type



English Language and Literatures

Director of Thesis

Dr. Alyssa Collins

First Reader

Dr. Susan Vanderborg

Second Reader

Dr. Susan Vanderborg


Within this thesis, I analyze The Twilight Saga, The Hunger Games Trilogy, and The Divergent Trilogy and how the portrayal and treatment of the protagonists’ bodies within these texts uphold tenets of white, hegemonic femininity. I discuss first how their bodies are feminized, in part by their whiteness and smallness, but also through the comparison to the bodies of male characters. While the men are strong and physically capable, the protagonists are weak and physically incapable. As a result, the protagonists cannot act in the way a traditional hero might, using offensive action for self-preservation. Instead, the protagonists must establish their heroism through acts of sacrifice, seeking to preserve others rather than the self. However, these acts of sacrifice are frequently interrupted by the male character, who insists on rescuing the protagonist from herself. This disrupts the protagonist’s narrative authority, forcing her into a cycle of mutilation and redemptive beautification. Though the protagonist is allowed to perform heroic acts of sacrifice, she must always return to a state of feminine beauty. Thus, her value resides not in her actions but her body. Given the immense popularity all three of these series amassed, this presentation of the heroine is troubling. The illusion of power these narratives create is dangerous. Though the label of heroine alleges empowerment, the actual roles these protagonists play within their narratives sustain the tenets of hegemonic femininity and the gender binary itself.

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© 2021, Tiffany R Boyles