Date of Award

Summer 8-7-2012

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Paul Schmidt

Second Advisor

Dr. Marti Singer

Third Advisor

Dr. Melissa McLeod


This thesis examines the feminine coming-of-age stories in The Mill on the Floss and Hard Times and seeks to redefine coming-of-age for Victorian girls as a movement into personal agency. The traditional bildungsroman has been defined in a way that largely excludes the experiences and stories of girls born during the early nineteenth century. Because these girls lacked the options and choices of their male counterparts, it becomes important to redefine what coming-of-age means when there are limited opportunities for personal growth. The middle-class Victorian woman led a largely prescribed existence and her well-being and security was often directly and indirectly tied to the status and conduct of the men in her life, usually her father. Given this, this paper also explores the father’s role in his daughter’s coming-of-age story and how he influences the choices she makes in her life.