The Quarterdeck: Leadership and Authority in Herman Melville

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Title: The Quarterdeck: Leadership and Authority in Herman Melville
Author: Zupancic, Anthony Edward
Advisors: Leila May, Committee Member
Lucinda MacKethan, Committee Member
Anne Baker, Committee Chair
Abstract: This thesis examines the theme of leadership and authority in three of Melville's works. America, in the 1840's and 1850s, was struggling through the issues of slavery and western expansion and the resolution to both resided in the countr's leadership. Melville recognized the important role the nation's leaders played in the development of the new county's role in the world. He also realized the detrimental effect that weak or ineffective leaders would have on the nation and the people. In this thesis, I examine Melville's ideas about leadership as represented in the novels White-Jacket and Moby-Dick, and in the short story 'Benito Cereno.' My analysis does not demonstrate a progressive definition of leadership but instead shows Melville's struggle with the concept of leadership and authority. Melville constantly struggled with the obligation to respect and adhere to authority and the moral responsibility of the people of a democratic country to be vigilant against tyranny and oppressive leaders. Even though Melville provides the reader with no clear model of leadership, he does, through his characters and narrative style, inspire a discussion about the relationship between the leader and the led and ensures that the people remember their role within that relationship.
Date: 2006-04-28
Degree: MA
Discipline: English

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