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"As Steadfast, as Brave and as Manly as They": Women and Power in Thornton Wilder’s The Cabala and The Woman of Andros

Finn Draper
Finn Draper
Faculty Adviser(s)

When discussing Thorton Wilder, often the conversation is centered around his most famous plays, but his early novels are ripe with interesting characters, locations, and references. One of the more impactful avenues of analysis is how Wilder portrayed female characters. This research delves into what types of power these women have access to in their lives, what narrative power they are given, and how that power can be removed through unrequited love. Specifically honing in on women’s relationship to power in The Cabala (1926) and The Woman of Andros (1930), This study identifies a connection between Miss Grier and Chrysis in their role as the storyteller and explores the impact of a woman being given that position. Furthermore, when comparing multiple female characters across these two early novels, the contrast of character function and influence illuminates the ways in which Wilder constructed power and agency not only in his female characters, but all characters.  


Originally from Cary, North Carolina, Finn Draper (he/they) is a senior at Salem College, majoring in English, minoring in Psychology and Criminology. After graduation, he plans to continue his work with LGBT+ issues, working towards a Master of Social Work to one day be able to directly engage with and uplift trans youth. Beyond the classroom, they are an active member of Salem’s on campus theatrical troupe, the Pierrettes, and spend any remainder of free time reading comics or playing Dungeons and Dragons.