Mary Keough

Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Einboden, Jeffrey

Degree Name

B.A. (Bachelor of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of English


Despite their widespread socio-religious influence and prominent endurance over time, the Bible and the Qur’an lack academic precedence in required literary coursework today. As prototypes for future literary works across cultures and historical epochs, the scriptures’ absence in mainstream collegiate study is especially disappointing. This essay, therefore, examines two classic American novels—Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter and Herman Melville’s Moby Dick—through a scriptural lens, highlighting their similitude in character types, structure, style, and thematic content. Connecting significant narrative moments and stylistic nuances to biblical and Qur’anic text, this study exposes the importance of scriptural acumen to a deeper and more comprehensive study of the two novels. Moreover, stressing the self-aware and “living” quality of the Bible and the Qur’an reveals the underlying, esoteric threads tying The Scarlet Letter and Moby Dick to their scriptural counterparts. By constructing these literary bridges over spatial and temporal parameters, the paper underscores the need for required coursework in scriptural texts so English students can fully appreciate the unique roots of the American literary canon.


Includes bibliographical references.


25 pages




Northern Illinois University

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In Copyright

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Alt Title

Borrowing the Bible, echoing the Koran : the significance of scriptural acumen and exegesis when studying The scarlet letter and Moby-Dick

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