Document Type


Publication Date



French and Francophone Literature


Karen Erickson


This project is an analysis of four nineteenth-century French novels (Les Misérables, La Ville Noire, Le Rouge et le Noir, and Madame Bovary) that examines the different processes men and women go through in changing social status. The project begins with a historical summary of the different social classes and women's positions within these classes. Also discussed are the literary conventions of Romanticism and Realism--the two major literary movements of nineteenth-century French literature. The analyses trace male and female characters in their attempts at mobility. The characters are compared to one another and to the historical description of this issue. I found that while men participate in hierarchical mobility in search of power, women strive for an outward mobility in search of freedom. The conclusion of my project includes personal reflections about the value of literature as a historical piece.