Masters Thesis

I pledge allegiance to the embroidered scarlet letter and the barbaric white leg

In the mid 1800s, contemporary writers Nathaniel Hawthorne and Herman Melville contributed prodigiously to early American literature by creating works of profound insight and intellect. By creating their respective classics, The Scarlet Letter (1850) and Moby-Dick (1851), they opened up a canon of writing specific to America that was separate and distinct from British literature. Specific to this thesis, they crafted two iconic characters, Hester Prynne and Captain Ahab, that still circulate in the psyche and imagination of the American public. This thesis seeks to answer the question of why there remains interest in these two fictional figures. By focusing on the original texts, critical literature, and film material, this thesis analyzes themes, images, symbols, and signs to find answers..