Date of Award
Master of Arts
Matthew W. Sivils
In this study, I argue that heroism requires displacement. This notion of heroism applies to a majority of hero tales because this displacement happens physically, mentally, or even psychologically. To analyze the displaced hero, certain 18th and 19th century American texts encapsulate instances of displaced heroism: women’s Indian captivity narratives, Charles Brockden Brown’s Edgar Huntly, and Life of Black Hawk. Focusing on displaced heroism in these specific texts allows for further commentary on the discussion of Americanness and the issues America faced when encountering the Native Americans in what they perceived to be a wilderness. This study compares women’s Indian captivity narratives with European fairytales to demonstrate how the heroine dealt successfully with her captivity in the wilderness. Conversely, Edgar Huntly becomes displaced when writing about his descent into the American wilderness, inverting the archetypal heroic journey and failing in his heroic efforts. And finally, Black Hawk represents a tragic hero figure. He became displaced in his attempt to fight the U.S. Government and save his people’s way of life, and discouraged after touring the booming industry of the eastern American cities. In displacement, heroism can either hinder or help, depending on whether the individual chooses to rise above their predicament and achieve an innate sense of self. The meaning behind these important hero stories explores how to live life to the fullest even when displaced, shifted, challenged, and questioned in life.
Imelda Corazon Wistey
Wistey, Imelda Corazon, "Displaced heroism in 18th and 19th century American literature" (2016). Graduate Theses and Dissertations. 16038.