Date of Award

Spring 4-24-2022

Document Type

Honors Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts


English and Linguistics

Department Chair or Program Director

Levin, Jonathan

First Advisor

Lorentzen, Eric

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.