Date of Award

January 2012

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Rebecca Weaver-Hightower


My thesis is an analysis arguing that the roles of women in three of Wes Anderson's films, Rushmore (1996), The Royal Tenenbaums (2001), and The Life Aquatic(2004), are vital in influencing the men that surround them to come to a self-realization and in the progression of the film as each character finds closure, despite critic's claims. Critics Jesse Mayshark and Greg Carlson examine Anderson's films to be basically about men stuck in arrested development that as they rival each other they grow and mature, and discount the roles of women as simply a side note. I build upon their analysis by using the theory of erotic triangles in literature as they are explained by Eve Sedgwick in her book Between Men: English Literature and Male Homosocial Desire. Much of her work builds off of Sigmund Freud and Girard's theories, although they differ in the fact that Freud and Girard see the love triangle as being symmetrical despite gender and Sedgwick theorizes that the triangle is asymmetrical due to gender and the rivalry for power between the men that crave homosocial interaction in the form of rivalry over the woman placed at the center of the triangle. What I do different is build upon Sedgwick, Mayshark and Carlson's examinations and includes the analysis of the women and how I believe that the women that anchor the triangle(s) are actually the most powerful and influential characters in the films. The women in Anderson's films and that I analyze are very intelligent, beautiful, strong, yet damaged individuals, that influence the men and themselves to come to a self-realization and acceptance of themselves and others. I found that in a Eurocentric society, critics and audiences alike are more comfortable perceiving women as less influential and capable than their male counterpart, while being more vulnerable and emotional, although women have made headway in even the last twenty years and actually the last four (Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, 2009).