Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts




William Faulkner and S¢ren Kierkegaard, although separated in time by almost a century, possess a common concern: both are deeply interested in the numerous ways in which individuals live out their lives in either hope or despair. Exploring the avenues which might alleviate this despair and providing a basis for hope are tasks both authors have accepted as theirs.

This paper relates three novels by Faulkner to the stages of existence set forth by Kierkegaard in much of his philosophical writing. I intend to show that Faulk­ ner's characters serve as illustrations of different ways in which an individual may exist in these stages. The result of a juxtaposition of these characters with Kierkegaard's stages of existence is a greater insight into the motivations, the obsessions, and the successes and failures of Faulknerian characters.

The three novels I have chosen for this task are The Sound and the Fury, Light in August, and Absalom, Absalom! In each of his novels, Faulkner presents dif­ ferent characters who cope with life in very different ways. The novels I have selected, however, provide the same diversity with which Kierkegaard himself illustrates his stages. Although many of the major characters in the selected novels dwell in the same stage of existence, the various ways in which they inhabit the same stage are illuminating.