Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




S. Bowerbank




Although the seventeenth-century pastoral has generated much literary analysis, little has been written about gender and its significance in the employment of this genre. This work addresses this need. However, due to the restrictions of time and space, its scope is necessarily limited to an examination of six poets.

This thesis compares how the male and female writers perceived the retired life and the role of the poet throughout this tempestuous century as England moved from feudal to modern political, social and economic principles. Inasmuch as the male writers used the pastoral to address the destruction of England's former 'edenic' state, the feudal hierarchy, the female poets employed the pastoral to re-define their representation by the patriarchy and to develop their literary identity. My examination attempts to address the transformation of the pastoral during the seventeenth century by its male and female poets.

McMaster University Library