Date of Award
Bachelor of Arts
English and Linguistics
Department Chair or Program Director
Major or Concentration
In the chemical world, entropy, or the randomness and chaos of a system, must continually increase; it is much more favorable for things to fall apart than to be put together. This scientific concept can also be rightly applied to the study of literature. While it is true books contain information put together into some sense of order from chaos, making them counterintuitive to entropy, I am convinced these works must still obey the laws of thermodynamics. There must be an increase in chaos somewhere, and if it is not within the words themselves, it must lie within the ideas they represent, their interpretation by readers, and the deconstruction of the text through literary analysis. In this study, the works of Victorian authors including Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy are deconstructed into entropic elements including the lack of a reliable center and the struggle between the compulsion to repeat and the desire for revolution. Examination of entropy in these texts validates their claims to be realistic novels portraying the nuance of authentic life. Entropy applied to literature calls readers to continually deconstruct, wait expectantly for the inevitable eb and flow of light and darkness, and accept unanswerable questions and incomplete endings. This is real life; this is entropy.
Harris, Hannah, "The Science of Art “Faithfully Presented”: Entropy in British Victorian Literature" (2022). Student Research Submissions. 530.