Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Name

Master of Arts (M.A.)

Degree Granting Department

World Languages

Major Professor

Anne Latowsky, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Charlotte Trinquet du Lys, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Sandrine Savona, Ph.D.

Committee Member

Ippokratis Kantzios, Ph.D.


feminine virtue, gendered virtue, masculine virtue


Theologians, philosophers, moralists, artists, men and women of letters of the seventeenth century were interested in the notion of "virtue" and the place it should occupy in the education of children and in the life of adults. Because of this interest, literary genres of this period, and more specifically plays, provide us with many references of the word "virtue".

This concept is presented as one of the essential characteristics to be found in a hero and a heroine. However, "virtue" is not a constant concept, for its meaning is determined by the socio-political context, the author's philosophy, and the gender of the person to whom it is attributed. Thus, through the lens of the moral discourse and in a multidisciplinary and comparative perspective we will analyze the different nuances of "virtue" in three plays by Pierre Corneille: Horace, Cinna and Polyeucte. The selection of these three historical pieces was based on the attention paid to the subject of "virtue" by Pierre Corneille. Through this analysis we will highlight the various interpretations of the concept of virtue with regard to the gender of the character in question. In addition, we will identify the advances made (voluntarily or not) by Pierre Corneille regarding the virtue of the woman and its approximation to that of the man.