Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

"Once Gone Through, We Trace Round Again": The Cyclical Journey of Belief and Unbelief in Herman Melville's Later Works
by Butler-Probst, Emily Pamela, M.A., University of Colorado at Boulder, 2018, 87; 10793965
Abstract (Summary)

This thesis explores Herman Melville's struggling relationship between belief and unbelief in Moby-Dick, “Benito Cereno” and Clarel. Melville’s travel to the Marquesas gave him a sense of cultural relativity which prompted questions about his faith that continually remerged even as he found answers. In spite of overwhelming skepticism, Melville was unwilling to fully relinquish his faith because belief also offered comfort. Being trapped in a space where he could not fully believe but was equally unable to detach himself from faith, Melville discovered Ralph Waldo Emerson’s concept of double consciousness which served as a theoretical framework for his feelings of internal liminality. Melville drew on Emerson’s ideas to propose a wrestling form of belief. The Melvillean believer discovers questions which produce doubt and then seeks answers. These answered questions produce a brief sense of peace before further questions assert themselves and the struggling believer must begin his journey once again.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Bickman, Martin
Commitee: Klages, Mary, Windell, Maria
School: University of Colorado at Boulder
Department: English
School Location: United States -- Colorado
Source: MAI 57/06M(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Religion, Epistemology, American literature
Keywords: Circularity, Double consciousness, Doubt, Faith, Melville, Herman, Skepticism
Publication Number: 10793965
ISBN: 978-0-438-04495-1
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