Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures


French Studies

Content Description

1 online resource (iv, 223 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Susan Blood

Committee Members

Mary Beth Winn, Jean-Francois Briere


Alexandre Dumas, French Literature, French Studies, Marie Antoinette, Melodrama, Pamphlets, Monarchy in literature, Monarchy

Subject Categories

Reading and Language


Marie Antoinette was famously calumniated in pre-revolutionary and revolutionary pamphlets as being a debauched monarch who represented the corruption of the Ancien Régime. The transition of her portrayal from wicked queen to that of a martyr started to appear in earnest during the Restoration period of the early nineteenth century as literary genres evolved from libertine literature to pamphlet to melodrama. During the period of 1846-1855 Alexandre Dumas père wrote a series of historical dramas called the Marie Antoinette Romances in which he used melodramatic elements such as moral polarization, masks and mistaken identities, and the occult to paint a portrait of the last years of the monarchy and the outbreak of the Revolution. In Dumas' series, the resacralization of Marie Antoinette comes toward the end of her reign and throughout her imprisonment through the attempts made to save her by the Knight of Maison Rouge. The inclusion of the element of courtly love represented by the Knight renders the character of Marie Antoinette worthy of pity and endears her to the reader. Dumas' series manages reveal the forces behind the outbreak of the Revolution while simultaneously re-legitimizing the monarchy by showing the struggle and self-realization of Marie Antoinette.