Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Susan Honeyman

Committee Members

Janet Graham, Megan Hartman, Doug Waterfield


Fear;Folkore;Gothic;Mythology;The Green Man;Trauma


The ideas surrounding the Green Man and Green Woman narrative provide different cultural functions depending on the historical perspective. A critical examination of the Green Man and Green Woman tradition relying on Freudian, eco-critical, gothic, and trauma terms reveals how the ideas about the Green Man’s purpose coincides with how people use these ideas in reaction to trauma and fear. Lady Raglan was the first folklorist to coin the name “The Green Man” in 1939 during her studies to understand its function in medieval Christianity and paganism. Other scholars like Christine Vogt-Williams studied the Green Man as a racialized cultural Other by examining Treebeard from Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and the Green Men in the Arthurian poem Gawain and the Green Knight. Generally, previous folklorists studied the Green Man related to Christianity and paganism and only a few scholars like Vogt-Williams used specific examples of Green Men from literature to analyze them through a literary lens. Scholars and folklorists have failed to account for the Green Man narrative connected to fear and trauma. These different fears and traumas range from sexual abuse, bullying, mental illnesses, Manifest Destiny, and COVID-19. In this thesis, these issues are analyzed through the Green Man tradition by considering tree-metamorphic stories like between Daphne and Apollo, contemporary popular culture legends like Slender Man, graphic novels like Swamp Thing: Twin Branches by Maggie Stiefvater and Manifest Destiny: Flora and Fauna by Dingess et al., and the contemporary dystopian Maze Runner series by Dashner. These examples demonstrate how the Green Man narrative is used to reflect fears and trauma on a tradition connected to human’s depictions and relationship with nature.



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