Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Peter Walmsley




This thesis examines a selection of Eliza Haywood's early fiction. The central action in all of these works is the development of a passionate love relationship between a man and a woman. Haywood's ideal vision of this relationship is the union of man and woman as equals with a relationship based on mutual affection and esteem. The vast majority of her novels, however, demonstrate that there is only a slim possibility that this ideal can be realized. I argue that the greatest obstacle to the ideal relationship in Haywood's novels is the concept of absolute gender difference. Only when conventional gender roles have been cast aside is Haywood's ideal of an equal union possible.

Chapter One focuses on the tragic effects that conventional ideas about gender difference have on the love relationship. Chapter Two looks at two of Haywood's novels in which her ideal is achieved. The last chapter examines how Haywood shows men and women using language to establish a relationship with each other and, then, expands on these ideas to consider the "conversation" which takes place between Haywood and her reader. The thesis concludes with a brief look at the last two works which Eliza Haywood wrote: The Wife and The Husband, In Answer to the Wife (1756).

McMaster University Library