Master's Theses



Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


The over-all purpose of this thesis is to present the German thought in Thomas Carlyle's Past And Present as based on the investigations of critics, on the words of Carlyle, and on the related works of German writers; and thereby, to arrive at conclusions pertaining to these findings. Because the author of Past and Present has been accused of invading the works of other authors like a "monarch" and of transforming their ideas according to his own particular needs, there is a problem of considerable significance involved in regard to his sources. However, critics have examined the background and development of Carlyle and their conclusion is that his theories on history, heroes, duty, and the idealistic universe have been shaped according to the thought of German writers. These theories in turn contribute a significant part to the dominant theme in Past and Present; that is, as Carlyle denounces the nineteenth century, he advocates a return to the past, a recognition of heroes, a need for action or duty, and a return to God for an idealistic universe. Although the theories of Carlyle were originally formulated mainly from the Germans Fichte, Goethe, Schiller, Kant, Novalis, and Schelling, his theories in Past and Present are not a representative of all these German writers; for when Carlyle wrote Past and Present this German influence was believed to have been on the decline. However, the ideas of Fichte on history, of Fichte and Novalis on heroes, of Goethe on Duty, and of Richter, Goethe, and Novalis on the idealistic universe are extensively used in the primary thought of Past and Present. Therefore, the conclusion is drawn that although the number of German writers represented in Past and Present is lessened, the German ideas are still a dominating factor in the thought of Past and Present.


Committee Chair

Date of Award

Spring 1964

Document Type

Thesis - campus only access


© 1964 Audry Ann Karls


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