Date of Award


Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Philosophy MPhil


Arts, Nursing & Theology



First Advisor

Professor Jane Fernandez

Second Advisor

Dr Lindsay Morton


169901 Gender Specific Studies, 200508 Other Literatures in English, 220306 Feminist Theory, 220405 Religion and Society, 20 LANGUAGE, COMMUNICATION AND CULTURE


The intention of this study is to compare two texts separated by thousands of years, in the context of female agency. The modern male-authored text Hadassah: One Night with the King will be compared in the light of 3 models of feminist critique of the biblical Esther regarding female empowerment. This study aims to determine if the discourses within the modern text, Hadassah: One Night with the King positions its protagonists as conforming to one or more of three models established by this study’s reading of the biblical Esther. The three models are Model 1) Esther as a ‘Traditional Female Stereotype’, Model 2) Esther as Subversives, or Model 3) Esther as a ‘Type for the Jewish people’. It also seeks to establish when the representation of Hadassah/Kesselman and/or Vashti in Hadassah: One Night with the King falls outside the three models

This study follows a qualitative methodology and literary analysis that identifies and analyses the literary constructs, imagery, structure, settings and relationships in its exploration of female agency through the frame of limitations and enablers, and three analytical models of the Book of Esther. The analysis and conclusions form part of this study. The analysis finds that female agency in Hadassah: One Night with the King is complex, complicated, and, because of its contextual nature, not easily or strictly aligned within a particular model. The analysis indicates that although the primary protagonist does exercise agency in parts of the Scroll narrative of Hadassah One Night with the King, she appears, by the close of the text, to surrender to the stereotype of femininity depicted in representations of the biblical Esther as set out in Model 1 of this thesis. This finding indicates that the stereotypical representations of Esther’s agency have not come very far since biblical times.


Used by permission: the author.

A print copy of this thesis is held in the Avondale College Library (SC Theses 222.906 P28).