Date of Award

Summer 8-4-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name


Degree Program




Major Professor

Malmgren, Carl

Second Advisor

Hazlett, John

Third Advisor

Lackey, Kris


Three seminal 19 th-century North American literary works feature bodies of water which serve both as key elements in their narrative structure and as symbolic entities within their meaning systems. The protagonists in Henry David Thoreau’s Walden, Edgar Allan Poe’s A Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket, and Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick literally define themselves in terms of their relation to these bodies of water. The best way to determine the function of water in the texts is to analyze the initial relationship between water and the central character, the way that water serves as a reflection of the Self, and the way that its Otherness suggests the ultimate possibility of transformation.


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