Major Department



College of Liberal Arts & Sciences


BA (Bachelor of Arts)

Session and Year of Graduation

Spring 2020

Honors Major Advisor

Glenn Ehrstine

Thesis Mentor

Waltraud Maierhofer


This paper examines the relationship between a later work of the German novelist Thomas Mann, Doktor Faustus, and the Expressionist movement of the early twentieth century. This relationship is analyzed primarily from two angles. First, the novel’s themes and techniques are compared and contrasted with those of German literary Expressionism, a movement in literature which predates Doktor Faustus by a couple decades. The novel and movement are found to be lacking enough in common to warrant Doktor Faustus’ inclusion in the movement’s canon, although certain ideas of the novel appear to echo this movement. Then the novel’s relationship with Expressionist music, as exemplified by the work of Arnold Schoenberg, is examined. A comparison is made between the fictional works of the novel’s main character, Adrian Leverkühn, and those of Schoenberg’s expressionistic phase, thus demonstrating the influence of Schoenberg and, by extension, Expressionist music on the novel. The paper concludes with a brief analysis of the theme of anxiety, which is characteristic of not only the Expressionist movement as a whole but also of Doktor Faustus. While Doktor Faustus is not an example of an “Expressionist novel” it bears the influence of Expressionism in certain of its themes and references to Expressionist works.


Expressionism, Anxiety, Germany, Thomas Mann, Music, Arnold Schoenberg

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