Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




In Lie Down in Darkness, The Long March and Set This House on Fire. William Styron studies the modern condition of man and his world. Styron describes this situation according to an existential definition of existence. The world of his novels is depicted as a lonely and bleak realm where man finds no external means of support. As a result of these conditions, man flounders aimlessly. The reason for this erratic behavior is that man relies too heavily on finding guidance from the outside world. Styron contends that man will continue to stumble so miserably, until he realizes that he will find no support from any outside source. Man's only alternative is to seek security from within himself. Thus the only positive choice of existence that man can make is to struggle to find persona] strength and courage.

In studying these conditions this thesis particularly emphasizes the imagistic development within Styron's novels. Styron graphically describes the grim existential world and man's reactions to such a bleak existence. Styron develops his images even to encompass the more positive aspects of the existential existence.

In the course of this study, many references are made to Soren Klerkegaard and Paul Tillich. Since Styron does echo many of the expressions of these philosophers, it becomes helpful to refer to their works in order to clarify the position of William Styron.