Date of Award


Document Type

Open Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



First Advisor

Claire Bracken

Second Advisor

Jillmarie Murphy


Lady Midnight, A Court of Silver Flames, An Ember in the Ashes, Young Adult fantasy fiction, Object Relations Theory, D.W. Winnicott, YA, Jessica Benjamin, Nancy Chodorow


This thesis will discuss how the genre of Young Adult (YA) fiction, more specifically Fantasy YA fiction, reflects the major goals and objectives of fourth wave feminism, ultimately arguing for the need for more intersectional representation in heroine characters. YA Fantasy fiction consistently features a strong heroine in both spirit and body, one who uses weapons to take on systems of injustice in their respective worlds, from systematic child murder to modern slavery. What and how, then, are these books teaching the next generation about feminism? I attempt to answer this question with this thesis, looking at three YA female protagonists and their individual methods of literally and figuratively fighting against the patriarchy. I explore their relationships with weapons and fighting in general, paying attention to the use of designated instruments as weapons and the implications of this relationship on these characters. To do this, I will employ the theoretical framework of Object Relations and its notable theorists, including Melanie Klein, D.W Winnicott, Jessica Benjamin, and Nancy Chodorow, examining the connections between the heroine’s sense of self, their childhood, and the object world around them. Further, I examine the use of the female body as a weapon itself, therefore requiring me to think about the significance of weaponizing the female body given the historical reality of sexual violence as a powerful bodily weapon. When put into conversation with the goals of fourth wave feminism, I will ultimately conclude that YA Fantasy fiction aligns with fourth wave feminism in its goal of female empowerment through equality but is lacking in the field of intersectional representation.



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