Date of Award
Master of Arts (MA)
Some of the most interesting aspects of William Faulkner's work are the parallels to Calvinism which are revealed in Faulkner's view of man and in his treatment of the problem of evil. This thesis traces parallels to Calvinistic doctrine in the following novels: The Sound and the Fury, As I Lay Dying, Sanctuary, Absalom! Absalom!, Light in August, A Fable, Intruder in the Dust, The Hamlet, The Town, The Mansion, Requiem For a Nun, The Wild Palms and Go Down Moses. The analysis of Calvinism utilizes the Five Points of Calvinism as Adopted by the Synod of Dart in 1619: (1) Unconditional predestination, (2) Limited atonement, (3) Human inability (depravity), (4) Irresistibility of grace, and (5) the perseverance of the saints, as these points are defined in Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion. Analysis of the novels indicates that Faulkner's works show several parallels to Calvinism in the doctrine of the depravity of man, predestination, and the perseverance of the saints. In terms of great polarities parallel to those of Calvinism, Faulkner discusses the issue of man's nature, his guilt and glory, his will, bound, yet free, and his fate, predestined, yet his freely to command. There does not seem, however, to be any clear indication of an atonement in Faulkner's novels. Although sane characters demonstrate characteristics of Christian sainthood, and express a simple, orthodox faith, Faulkner makes these characters aesthetically attractive to the reader without suggesting necessarily that their faith is Faulkner's proposed solution to the human dilemma. Faulkner's Nobel Prize Acceptance Speech and other public statements also indicate a somewhat ambiguous relationship between his professed humanism and the parallels to Calvinism which occur in his work. But it is not within Faulkner's humanistic philosophy but within the dramatic polarities parallel to those of Calvinism that the strength of Faulkner's novels lies.
Copyright 1961 Minnie G. Hubbard
Hubbard, Minnie G., "Parallels to Calvinism in the Works of William Faulkner" (1961). Master's Theses. 707.