Date of Award

Spring 5-2015

Degree Type

Honors College Thesis



First Advisor

Alexandra Valint

Advisor Department



In literature, appearances always seem to play a major part of each character. The physical descriptions of each character are important to the development of the story. Therefore, it seems that a character’s physical appearance becomes an important part of character development, and his/her physical traits help to determine the type of character he/she will be. Often times, different hair colors carry associations along with them. Redheads have been associated with certain temperaments and personality traits throughout history. In literature, red-headed characters often have the temperaments, traits, and negative connotations associated with redheads. One of the major assumptions made about redheads is that they are witches. Libba Bray’s young adult novel A Great and Terrible Beauty (2003) exemplifies the connection between red hair and witchcraft. This thesis will expose redhead stereotypes by analyzing the main character Gemma Doyle of Bray’s novel. By targeting those stereotypes most commonly associated with redheads specifically, I will demonstrate that appearance, especially hair color, becomes an identifier of certain traits about a character to other characters as well as to the reader.