Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Randy Malamud

Second Advisor

Edward Christie

Third Advisor

Brennan Collins


Modern heroes, or anti-heroes, are fascinating figures who dominate much of modernist literature, particularly those texts produced around the turn of the 20th century in England and America. They differ in a large degree from nearly all the heroes before them, especially those found within early myths. Rather than achieving victory through the use of violence (the sword) like mythical heroes, modern heroes most often reach heroic stature through some type of spiritual enlightenment or sheer perseverance under trial. In the modernist stories where we find them, anti-heroes begin as complex and problematic figures. They are usually disillusioned, self-doubting, hopeless characters who seem destined for failure. However, in each case, these protagonists become modern heroes by the end of their stories. This dissertation explores the modern heroes found within eight American and British modernist novels: The Great Gatsby, Heart of Darkness, To the Lighthouse, The Sun Also Rises, Nightwood, Henderson the Rain King, The Sound and the Fury, and Ulysses.


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