This thesis examines how the female protagonists in Elective Affinities, The Awakening, and The Hours illuminate the cycle of contention and reconciliation between inner and outer worlds, between idealism and realism. Each protagonist negotiates a journey of authentic self-evolution, whether within or outside the confines of her respective social realm, to regain possession of the unconscious. All three protagonists attempt to make art out of ordinary experience in negotiating the relationship between the unconscious and the idealization of the self. Parallel to this creative effort is a sense of failure due to the high expectations that each protagonist places on herself. The value of each life-project is determined by how each character interprets her respective success or failure, and not exclusively by social considerations. Instead of maintaining the ideal or the real in separate realms, creativity overcomes the conflict between the demands of the ego and the constraints of culture. The three works examined in this thesis help demonstrate that creativity itself can become an ideal that can transform reality.