Date of Award

Fall 2013

Degree Type

Masters Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



Committee Chair

Monika Gehlawat

Committee Chair Department


Committee Member 2

Martina Sciolino

Committee Member 2 Department


Committee Member 3

Charles Sumner

Committee Member 3 Department



Critics widely acknowledge the psychological grounding of Kazuo Ishiguro's writing. His 1989 novel The Remains of the Day presents a central character deeply afflicted by his inability to acknowledge his condition. Both literal and figurative loss proliferates throughout the novel, and turning to Sigmund Freud's influential essay, "Mourning and Melancholia," allows us to understand how loss influences Stevens's narrative. In this essay, Freud explores conditions that result after the loss of person or an ideal. For Stevens, the lost object is the myth of pre-war English traditions. Freud's theories regarding melancholia provide a crucial insight to Stevens's inability to acknowledge the larger significance of the many losses he experiences. Instead, Stevens relies on a certain set of metaphors to avoid confronting his loss and critically examining his limited subjectivity. By reading Stevens as a Freudian melancholic, we can better understand how and why Stevens constructs a narrative that fails to provide a moment of revelation.