Publication Date

Summer 8-10-2022

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in English (MA)



Committee Chair

Dr. Nathaniel R. Racine

Committee Member

Dr. Jonathan W. Murphy

Committee Member

Dr. Gilbert Salinas

Committee Member

Dr. Kevin Lindberg



Captivity in Melville (August 2022) Oscar Sacriste Jr, B.S., Southwestern Assembly of God University;

Chair of Committee: Dr. Nathaniel R. Racine

Initially, Melville’s works seem romantic and adventurous, and some may even argue that they are autobiographical. However, he also covers a wide range of serious subjects, including religion, philosophy, and socioeconomic issues. As such, Melville engages with a range of issues and conveys a deeper meaning through his writings, often through the use of allegory. This thesis examines Melville’s works through the lens of allegorical reasoning by also considering the numerous biblical allusions, which Melville employs throughout his works. It is through this connection that readers are able to relate them to the larger themes of captivity and capitalism and their central roles in Melville’s narratives. Whether it is a sailor longing to explore an island, a captain seeking an elusive whale, or a scrivener unwilling to work, Melville’scharacters are constantly in search of a better life, desiring an escape from their oppressive circumstances. What is revealed, however, is that although his characters may escape one captivity, they find themselves held captive by their new set of circumstances. For this reason, although captivity and its relationship to capitalism are often obscured in Melville, an allegorical reading of his works can help to further the socioeconomic and historical contexts established in the critical conversation.