Date of Graduation


Document Type


Degree Type



Eberly College of Arts and Sciences


World Languages, Literatures and Linguistics

Committee Chair

Twyla Meding

Committee Co-Chair

Valerie Lastinger

Committee Member

Jennifer Orlikoff


Sophie de Segur is a very well-known 19th century French children's author. Her books were and are still widely read and appreciated by children. However, she has been often criticized by literary scholars of the 20th and 21st century due to the fact that there is a lot of violence present in her novels. In addition, it has been suggested that her only goal was to educate and moralize her young readers. This opinion, however, reduces the multifaceted work of the comtesse to a purely didactic literature and we fail to recognize that her writing suggests a much deeper significance and goes beyond simple edification of children which is often found in the literary current of her time. The recurrent theme of the 'mother' in her novels has been widely examined and analyzed by many scholars. Nevertheless, one often returns to the fact that Segur includes a lot of violence and cruelty in her books without really being able to justify the true motives behind it. The current project will examine the mother figures in Sophie de Segur's novels and attempt to justify the choices of the author to include the maternal violence in her work. It may seem that the comtesse condones the violence, when, in fact, she seems to be condemning it. Analyzing her writing it becomes clear that she critiques the mothers who mistreat their children and this thesis will also show why and how she does it.