Organic Unity in Selected Works by Herman Melville:
This thesis attempts an intrinsic study of Melville’s Moby Dick, Pierre, and Billy Budd in order to cover a hitherto-unbridged gap in the scholarship on Melville’s work. It primarily evaluates the organic unity of these novels and questions the role of the archetypes in establishing this unity. This is done by exploring the archetypal features employed in each novel and detecting the coordinating principle that is in command of their operation. The methodology employed comprises Frye’s Theory of the Archetypes, as best explained in his article “The Archetypes of Literature”, as well as Jung’s, Robert Moore’s and Douglas Gillette’s studies of the archetypal characters. Applying archetypal criticism helps answer the three questions this thesis is concerned with. These questions are: What is the unifying/coordinating principle in each of the three novels? What are the archetypal elements in each novel? And how do they interplay and contribute to the organic unity of each novel? Therefore, in this thesis, archetypal criticism is a necessary theoretical/ analytical framework for discerning all the archetypal elements employed, including archetypal situations, setting, imagery, symbols, characters, as well as myths and biblical allusions, and for highlighting their signification and their interdependence in carrying out a certain unifying objective. This interdependence among the archetypes, when highlighted, shows their significance in the overall design of the novels, and consequently illuminates their contribution to the organic unity of the works under study. Thus in Moby Dick, all archetypal features as well as myths and Biblical allusions interplay in delineating the quest, deeming the quest the unifying principle. In Pierre, ambiguity proves at work in the coordination of all the archetypes and myths employed in the work, and, thus, stands out as the coordinating agent responsible for the organic unity of the novel. Billy Budd rests on the ironic employment of the archetypal features present in this novella; thus, irony is identified as its unifying agent. It is, thus, shown how the three principles – the quest, ambiguity and irony – are the product of the interplay of the archetypes in Moby Dick, Pierre, and Billy Budd respectively.
Rasha Rajai Dayekh
Dr. Laila Helmi, Dr. Adnan Khattab