Power and Resistance in Herman Melville’s Three B’s
Independent thesis Basic level (degree of Bachelor), 10 credits / 15 HE creditsStudent thesis
This essay examines three of Herman Melville’s shorter fictions: Bartleby, Benito Cereno and Billy Budd. An analysis and comparison is made of the forces of power relations and resistance between the main characters in the three stories. Foucault’s theories of power are used as a basis for the analysis. Apparent power structures such as law and military hierarchy are analysed, but the focus is on more subtle relations based on language, knowledge, conformity with norms, silence, capitalism and position. It is argued that, apart from the apparent power structures, one needs to consider the more subtle power relations and acts of resistance for an understanding in the shifts of power positions. The study examines how the resisting oppressed party in each of the three works of fiction ends up dead, and that on a first reading resistance may seem futile. A further examination of the seemingly re-established conventional order, however, reveals shifts in power positions, shifts that indicate instability in the norms of society. It is argued that positions of power are to some extent reversed in the studied works of fiction, where the dominant party ends up suffering.
Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2013. , 29 p.
Herman Melville, Bartleby, Benito Cereno, Billy Budd, power relations, resistance, Michel Foucault
IdentifiersURN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-91131OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-91131DiVA: diva2:630998