Date of Award

Spring 5-7-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Dr. Malinda Snow

Second Advisor

Dr. Murray Brown

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul H Schmidt


For years, scholars have focused on the serious narrative of Samuel Johnson’s Rasselas and have been unable to reconcile the episodes of ironic humor within the larger serious narrative. By reading Rasselas as an imitation of Ecclesiastes rather than an Oriental tale, critics can begin to identify the humor in Rasselas through the embellishment of the story of Ecclesiastes. The failures of the character Koheleth in Ecclesiastes become the genesis for the failures of Rasselas and his companions; however, the failures of Rasselas and more elaborate and comedic. How Johnson embellishes these failures to create humorous irony in Rasselas becomes clearer for the reader through this new categorization of genre, which can hopefully unite the two opposing views of criticism surrounding this book.