Publication Date

Fall 2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


English and Comparative Literature


Angela Noelle Brada-Williams


Evelina, Isabella Whitney "Will and Testament", Moll Flanders, Study of the flâneuse, The Roaring Girl, The Rover

Subject Areas

British and Irish literature; Women's studies; Literature


This thesis argues that the flâneuse is present in literature well before the late nineteenth century. Similar to Charles Baudelaire's flâneur figure, the flâneuse herself is an observer of modernity. Through her interactions with the crowd, the flâneuse is able to read the urban landscape. Chapter One focuses on defining the historical context of when the term flâneur appears in critical discourse. Chapter Two introduces the first example of a flâneuse: the narrator of Isabella Whitney's poem "Will and Testament." It focuses on how the narrator offers a reading of London in flux, its attractions as well as its growing problems. Chapter Three presents flâneuses of the seventeenth century: Moll from The Roaring Girl and Hellena from The Rover. These two texts introduce the crowd and present flâneuses who interact with the crowd. They also present the power and dangers of using costumes to enter into public spaces and for walking on the streets. In Chapter Four, we enter the eighteenth century, and through Moll Flanders and Evelina, we explore how the ideology of the separate spheres dictated women's roles and where women could frequent. Even more important to this study is the fact that this ideology ultimately limited women's roles as flâneuses for much of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.