Date of Degree

2-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

M.A.

Program

Liberal Studies

Advisor(s)

Marie Marianetti

Subject Categories

Ancient History, Greek and Roman through Late Antiquity | Ancient Philosophy | Biblical Studies | Classical Literature and Philology | Ethics in Religion | Literature in English, British Isles | Literature in English, North America | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion

Keywords

suffering, tragic hero, tropes in literature, Paradise Lost, Greek Tragic Drama, the role of evil in religous or spiritual thought.

Abstract

The character of Job starts in literature, a trope and archetype of the suffering man who potentially gains wisdom through suffering. Job’s characterization informs a comparison to Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex, Shakespeare’s King Lear, Milton’s Paradise Lost, and finally Melville’s Moby-Dick. These versions of Job rally, fight, and rebel against a universe that was once loving and fair towards a more chaotic and nihilistic one. Job’s suffering is on the mark of all tragedy because he not only experiences a downfall, he gains wisdom through universalizing his torment. The Job trope not only stresses the role of suffering, it links theodicy (“the problem of suffering”) with tragedy, in which the Job character experiences a progression from innocence to experience, foolishness to wisdom, blindness towards exaltation. As this trope progresses, author’s like Milton and Melville complicate the role of the sufferer by presenting false Job’s, who experience suffering but learn nothing from it. Scholars like William Empson, Harold Bloom and Stanley Fish provide insight into the theological and literary underpinnings of the Job archetype in literature, which illuminates the connection between theodicy and tragedy.

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