English Language and Literature ETDs

Publication Date

Spring 4-15-2023


This thesis conducts a literary analysis on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952) and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar (1963) with a primary investigation on the protagonists and their convergence of identity in Cold War America. One of the critical discourses evaluated throughout the project’s literary analysis includes the protagonists’ complications of doubleness. This essay argues that since these two texts sit between W.E.B DuBois’s “Double Consciousness” and Kimberlé Crenshaw’s 1988 theory on intersectionality, these protagonists are forced to contend with an identity crossroads. Secondary to the context of this analysis is the use of “post-war” and “Cold War,”; neither are intended to be used synchronistically, rather this paper aims to use postwar to emphasize the backdrop of ideological remnants that would inform the foregrounding of dominant ideologies within Cold War America. Conclusively, this paper engages with critical theory from DuBois to Esteban Jose Muñoz’s Disidentifications for a complete investigation on the emergence of doubleness for Esther Greenwood and the Narrator and how it informs their navigation through institutional oppressions in Cold War America.

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First Committee Member (Chair)

Jesús Costantino

Second Committee Member

Scarlett Higgins

Third Committee Member

Finnie Coleman


Cold War, Invisible Man, The Bell Jar, Doubleness, Double Consciousness, Institutional Oppression

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