Date of Award

Spring 5-8-2020

Document Type


Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (BA)




College of Humanities and Fine Arts

First Advisor

Mélanie Giraud

Second Advisor

Elaine Bérard


In 19th century France, women appeared to be second class citizens. They were often limited in their abilities to have independence and secure their own wealth. This perception of women perhaps justifies why, as Honoré de Balzac’s novels illustrated the realities of French society, he attempted to characterize women’s struggles to obtain control and power in their lives. In his novels The Wild Ass’s Skin (1831), The Lily of the Valley (1835), and Le Père Goriot (1835), Balzac sought to prove how women could improve their lot.

Firstly, in studying how women had been relegated to second-class citizens under their father’s leadership, this thesis endeavored to show how women’s status was inferior to that of men. Secondly, the paper studied how the novels sought to portray the women's ability to secure mobility when faced with such inferior status. Finally, examining how women built and controlled their salons, this report looked at the place of the women's salons as a way to develop and perfect their image.