Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor's Name

Dr. Heather E. Blatt

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

Dr. Jason H. Pearl

Second Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member

Third Advisor's Name

Dr. Andrew Strycharski

Third Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Member


Literature in English, British Isles

Date of Defense



Characters’ identities are integral to how audiences relate to them. But what happens when the character suddenly alters his or her outward appearance? Are they still the same person? This thesis seeks to argue that disguise does not alter a character’s true nature, as evidenced by Pyrocles in Sir Philip Sidney’s The Countess of Pembroke’s Arcadia and the Prince in Margaret Cavendish’s The Convent of Pleasure. Both Pyrocles’ suit of Philoclea and the Prince’s suit of Lady Happy are successful because, however subversive they appear at first, they ultimately adhere to societal norms of the time. The relationship between the cross-dressed prince and his love interest in both works only appears to subvert heteronormative expectations for the time, but ultimately adheres to these societal norms once the disguised character’s true identity is revealed to his chosen partner.





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