BS (Social Sciences & Liberal Arts)

Faculty / School

School of Economics and Social Sciences (SESS)


Department of Social Sciences & Liberal Arts

Date of Award

Spring 2023

Date of Submission



Safia Mahmood, Lecturer, Department of Social Sciences

Project Type

SSLA Culminating Experience

Access Type

Restricted Access


The rise of grass-root movements, such as #MeToo, has brought attention to the prevalence of misogynistic 'rape culture' and the emergence of 'benevolent' and 'enlightened' sexism. This research delves into the portrayal of women in popular media and literature through the lens of feminism and psychoanalytic literary criticism and how authors of contemporary novels such as Sidney Sheldon can perpetuate hyper-feminine, hyper-sexual representations of women, which contradict the progress made by feminist movements. Focusing on Sidney Sheldon's selected novels, this research examines the author's portrayal of his female characters as beautiful, vengeful, and dependent on men's romantic love despite possessing immense social power and material wealth. Through a comprehensive analysis of the chosen literary works, I aim to promote critical thinking about popular culture's impact on societal perceptions of women and feminist ideologies. I draw on the psychoanalytic interpretation that views literature as reflecting the human psyche to critique whether Sheldon's female characters genuinely advocate for female empowerment or subtly reinforce dominant and sexist ideologies. This psychoanalytic interpretation offers a comprehensive understanding of the innate complexities embedded within contemporary American novels. By unraveling the unconscious motivations, desires, and defense mechanisms of Sheldon's characters, this research sheds light on the intricate interplay between literature and the human psyche, providing profound insights into gender dynamics and societal norms portrayed in literary works.


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