Lizzie Borden remains a controversial figure throughout history. The1892 murders of her father and stepmother thrust Borden into the spotlight as a spinster criminal, even though a 12-man jury acquitted her. Throughout history, historians and popular culture tend to focus on trying to solve this ax murder. Therefore, in this paper I am not examining this case from a whodunit standpoint. Instead I focus my research on how Lizzie’s gender impacted this case. Due to strict gender guidelines in the late 19th century, a woman committing a crime this heinous goes against all moral guidelines for women. This paper examines the media’s perceptions of Lizzie at the time of the trial through newspaper coverage, and within popular culture through in 1940s and 1950s and again in the 1960s and 1970s, through a gendered lens. Since these decades all held different beliefs and standards for gender roles, depictions of Lizzie change over time as a result. Each decade also views crime differently, which affects the relationship between crime and gender. As the only unsolved ax murder in history, Borden’s name will forever be linked to crime. Therefore, Borden’s legacy is changed because of cultural perceptions of womanhood, or as some may argue, her lack thereof.
Woltman, Abigail, ""Axing" Questions About Gender: Media Representations of Lizzie Borden" (2018). Senior Independent Study Theses. Paper 8117.
History of Gender | United States History
Lizzie Borden, popular culture, media, gender
Bachelor of Arts
Senior Independent Study Thesis
© Copyright 2018 Abigail Woltman