In the male-dominated literary canon, women characters repeatedly die to preserve patriarchal ideologies. While previous scholarship focuses on the meaning of male authors' use of dead female characters, my thesis analyzes dead women as imagined by recent female writers. Unlike their male counterparts, these women writers envision characters who explore the limits of feminine autonomy in prejudiced spaces. As Angela Carter writes, women "ha[ve] been groomed for the slaughterhouse," and each of the fictional women in this collective seeks to escape the patriarchal storylines that set them up for different, though inevitably violent, futures. Using close reading and trauma theory, I examine stories about a woman whose husband collects his dead wives' bodies, a woman whose body is held together by a ribbon around her neck, a woman who starves herself, and a woman who frames her husband for her murder. These stories inform the individual and collective traumas that women characters face in literature and readers unknowingly experience by default. By analyzing these women's respective successes and failures in breaking free from the longstanding confines of patriarchy, my thesis reveals the way that fictionalized violence against women's bodies not only enables misogynistic narratives, but allows for a real woman's death to be declared a suicide. Ultimately, the fictional women in this thesis are both victims of and challenges to a patriarchal status quo. Their position as foundational components of transhistorical literary texts speaks to their ubiquity. This thesis theorizes the ways in which their roles in their respective texts outline that the path to resistance is not so simple and, more importantly, challenges the foundations of their identity.