Date of Submission

Spring 2016

Academic Programs and Concentrations

Literature

Project Advisor 1

Donna Grover

Abstract/Artist's Statement

This thesis aims to investigate and identify the numerous doubles in Charles Brockden Brown’s 1799 novel “Edgar Huntly; Or, Memoirs of a Sleep-Walker”. I argue that the doubles Edgar Huntly encounters and interacts with throughout the novel are representations of the Old World and the New World, neither of which Edgar can fully grasp. In the first chapter, the thesis examines Clithero Edny, an Irish immigrant whom Edgar initially suspects of murdering his close friend Waldegrave. I read Clithero not as a representation of the Old World (as Edgar mistakenly does), but as an inhabitant of both the New World and the Old World. I further investigate Edgar’s false attachment to Clithero by focusing on the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798. The second chapter explores Edgar’s doubling with Old Deb and the Delaware Indians. I argue that Edgar’s violence toward the Delaware Indians stems from his inability to recognize the Huntly Estate as a coexistent space. Edgar’s dismissal and mockery of Old Deb reveals his internal anxieties about transitioning from the Old World to the New World. Unlike Old Deb and her tribe, Edgar feels overwhelming pressures to move forward to the New World, despite not fully grasping what this “New World” entails. The final chapter examines Edgar’s relationship with Weymouth and Sarsefield, both of whom represent the New World. I argue that Edgar’s inability to detach his Old World principles from the New World truths that Weymouth and Sarsefield represent results in a psychic fracture that is responsible for Edgar’s somnambulism, and consequently, his violent outbreaks. The thesis concludes with a close look at how Charles Brockden Brown’s life in Post-Revolutionary America parallels and contrasts with Edgar Huntly’s search for individuality in an unfamiliar and intricate world.

Access Agreement

On-Campus only

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.

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