Date of Award

Spring 5-11-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Flaherty

Second Advisor

Dr. Julian Knox

Third Advisor

Dr. Eustace Palmer


British gender expectations are often epitomized in mature adults, either in society or within novels, but in Peter Pan, The Secret Garden, and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe gender roles are interpreted by the child protagonists. J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan inhabits the world of the Neverland, but the gender roles of Victorian England follow them from London to the home below the tree where Peter, Wendy, her brothers, and the Lost Boys reside in a pseudo-domestic sphere. Peter often engages in literal discussion of what it means to become an English man, while Wendy lives out a woman’s motherly responsibilities happily to perfection. Frances Hodgson Burnett’s The Secret Garden also engages with these Victorian roles in combination with the influence of the Romantic ideals of children, set up and furthered in the late 18th century to the Edwardian period. Her novel reveals the interplay between experiencing the best of Romantic ideals as a child and how those ideals come to influence affectively living out the era’s domestic gender requirements as adults. C. S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe propels the conversation forward into the World Wars. Through a broadened sense of morality and nationalism, the children’s interplay with gender roles encompasses values more prominent in the British society of the wartime periods. Barrie, Burnett, and Lewis’ novels identify the gender roles expected of men and women’s distinctly differing spheres in the times of Victorian to Wartime England through the application of these evolving concepts onto the boy and girl protagonists.