Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




The Silenced Women in Spain

Through three novels written by Spanish author, Elena Quiroga (1921-1995), this thesis intends to develop a better comprehension of women's role and identity during the Second Republic in Spain (December, 1931-1936), and under Franco's almost 40 year reign between 1936 and 1975.

Although the Republic sought to initiate change for women via constitutional and legislative reforms, the forms of mobilization occurred under male tutelage, and the Republic's lack of strategy combined with organizational fragmentation led, in some ways, to the immobilization of women. Because the society was in flux, these attempts at reform were also met with anxiety by many, including women, who demonstrated a marked hostility to any expressions that challenged the established order Franco hoped to regain including its intent to recover the grandeur of the 15th century imperial Spain and nationalism.

For example, in Sexual Politics, Helen Graham, points out that cultural anxiety and fear of change were common feelings during the political mobilization of middle-class men and women in the inter-war period. As a result, an attraction to fascist or quasi-fascist formats to both genders lay in their nostalgia appeal and promise to `turn the clock back'. (p. 105).

Although a motive isn't cited, in his work, Spanish Civil War. A Cultural and Historical Reader, Alan Kenwood also confirms that women who aligned with Franco's Nationalist party attempted to recapture femininity and traditional cultural values that supported the ideology of women as passive wives, sisters, and daughters. (p. 33).

Under Franco's authoritarian dictatorship, the re-imposition and reinforcement of ultra-traditional roles on women was an accepted way by many, including some women, to stabilize Spain, and after 1939 women were completely deprived of a political arena in which they could mobilize and prosper.

My purpose in this thesis is to write about the struggles of two protagonists in three of Quiroga's novels Tristura, Escribo Tu Nombre and La Enferma, and in the process, illuminate the struggles of Spanish women with regards to their obligatory roles and identities during 20th century Spain. By writing about the protagonists personal experiences, I will attempt to reveal the theoretical and activist traditions in Spain that they both succumbed to and eventually overcame, examine how they came to understand their confinement within the realm of these traditions, and, finally reveal how they both achieved their own sense of liberty.

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