Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
This thesis project positions itself as a close examination of Herman Melville's novel, Moby Dick, as a fictional statement of the author's nihilistic view of man and his world. The paper argues that Melville's nihilism derives primarily from his belief that man's perception of himself and the world is relativistic. Definitions of nihilism and the era in which Melville authored the novel, a time when traditional values and belief systems were being questioned and discarded, are explored. The project labels Melville as a “philosophical” novelist in his treatment of the character of Ahab, in particular, as the nihilistic aspects of the character are revealed in this classic work of literature. In addition, the project also examines the contrasting "healthy" nihilism as exhibited in the novel by Ishmael.
Barnum, John E., "Nihilism in Melville’s Moby Dick" (1972). English Master’s Theses. 100.