Date Approved


Date Posted


Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department or School

English Language and Literature

Committee Member

Ramona Caponegro, PhD, Chair

Committee Member

Annette Wannamaker, PhD, Second Chair


As the most dynamic characters within a plot, villains have the ability to initiate change. To demonstrate the effect a villain can have, I have chosen two very different villains of popular culture—Theodora of Oz the Great and Powerful and the Joker of The Dark Knight—because these characters have a wide reach among the American audience. Theodora is a onedimensional villain whose lack of depth fails to prompt the audience to think critically and perpetuates the patriarchal issues portrayed in the film. The Joker, however, is captivating because he is complex and pushes the reader to think critically about Gotham’s issues. By completing an in-depth analysis of each character through a variety of lenses—such as religious, psychological, sociological—I will demonstrate that these characters provide the audience with very different experiences which have the ability to change or stunt social progress.