Date of Award

Spring 5-2011

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Dr. Paul Schmidt

Second Advisor

Dr. Michael Galchinsky

Third Advisor

Dr. Paul Voss


This dissertation examines Matthew Arnold's belief in the role the State must play in actualizing the ideals of the French Revolution in Victorian England by exploring parallels between Arnold's development and implementation of this belief and similar elements present in G.W.F. Hegel's philosophy. Beginning with Arnold's early engagement with the Bhagavad-Gita, moving into the preface to his 1853 volume of poems, and finally ending with his more mature religious, political, and social works, this dissertation traces the sources and development of Arnold's criticism of what he perceives as a widely held and dangerous antipathy towards State interference in the civil sphere in Victorian England. Believing this trajectory wrongheaded, Arnold asserts his belief in the connection between a strong State power and the emergence of true subjective freedom within a polity. By placing Arnold's texts and ideas alongside selections from Hegel's work, including On the Episode of the Mahabharata Known as the Bhagavad-Gita by Wilhelm von Humboldt, the preface to The Philosophy of Right, and some of Hegel's early theological writings, one realizes that Arnold's belief in both subjective freedom and a strong State power demonstrates a sustained and parallel engagement with Hegel's own commitment to both the ideals of the French Revolution and the role that a strong State power plays in actualizing those ideals.


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