Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

James Sutton

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Michael Gillespie

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Ana Luszczynska


English, Literature, Shakespeare

Date of Defense



English Renaissance playwright, William Shakespeare and twentieth century modernist author, Virginia Woolf’s works, “As You Like It” (1599) and “Orlando” (1928), respectively posit a vision of gender that transcends the physical sex of the body. The play’s heroine, Rosalind, and the novel’s protagonist, Orlando, each challenge the stability of the binary categories of male and female, demonstrating how gender is not absolute but rather a constantly adapting and evolving construct. This thesis traces the development of Rosalind and Orlando by analyzing and comparing both protagonists’ journeys towards concordia discors, considering how gender transformation plays a pivotal role in helping both figures transcend prescribed gender roles and restraints placed upon them by family and society. Both Rosalind and Orlando mount challenges to prescribed gender norms during periods when conservative gender roles were strictly enforced. By doing so, each character positions themselves as pivotal and progressive representations of gender performance for their time.





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