Undergraduate Honors Thesis Projects

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Paper

Degree Name

English Literary Studies-BA




Dr. Suzanne Ashworth

First Committee Member

Dr. Tammy Birk

Second Committee Member

Dr. Michele Acker


motherhood, The Scarlet Letter, witches, matriarchy, American Horror Story: Coven

Subject Categories

American Literature | American Popular Culture | Other Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies | Other Film and Media Studies


This analysis will discuss the topic of matriarchies, how they created, and how they are sustained. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, and Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story: Coven are used as examples of matriarchies, wherein Hawthorne’s matriarchy is at its start, whereas Murphy’s matriarchy is coming to a potential end. This will be examined through a comparative analysis between the characters in Hawthorne’s early American work with the characters in Murphy’s contemporary work. Ultimately, Hawthorne’s matriarchy is much more insidious and potentially damaging to a patriarchal norm than Murphy’s reclusive patriarchy. Hawthorne’s matriarchy has the option to disrupt a patriarchal structure from within. Murphy’s matriarchy simply re-uses the tools of a patriarchy to maintain order, and thus doesn’t really disrupt the larger social structures at play.