The descendants of Eve
: Rewriting the Fall in nineteenth-century French literature

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


This thesis underlines the significance of the French nineteenth-century rewritings of Eve for understanding the contemporary enduring relevance of this rebellious female figure and the lived experience of gender in the twenty-first century. From Balzac’s adulterous housewife, who must be ‘lifted up’ and redeemed, to Villiers de l’Isle Adam’s (dis-)obedient Eve robot, the representation of Eve takes a plurality of forms in nineteenth-century French literature. This topical and recurring trope lends itself to various literary, social, political and religious strategies across space and time; although writers and philosophical thinkers have tried to bind Eve to one particular ideological representation of woman as deviant, an analysis of the Eve trope demonstrates that there is a resistance to the suppression of female identity.

Thesis is embargoed until 31 July 2025.
Date of AwardJul 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Queen's University Belfast
SponsorsNorthern Ireland Department for the Economy
SupervisorClaire Moran (Supervisor) & Steven Wilson (Supervisor)


  • Eve
  • Genesis
  • nineteenth-century France
  • nineteenth-century French Literature
  • rebellious women
  • deviance
  • Honoré de Balzac
  • George Sand
  • Barbey d'Aurevilly
  • Gustave Flaubert
  • Émile Zola
  • Villiers de l'Isle Adam
  • female identity
  • The Fall

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