This thesis studies the relationship of irony, as defined in Kierkegaard's The Concept of Irony to the text and subject of Fear and Trembling. Irony is interpreted in this thesis as negative space, which both binds and separates and which assumes meaning equal to or greater than the positive space that binds it. This definition applies to Kierkegaard's Socrates who lived ironically in the space between actuality and ideality. This thesis considers how Abraham also lived in ironic space and why ironic space is a prerequisite for faith. Unlike Socrates, Abraham did not stop with irony, but used irony to open ironic space in which a knight of faith can be both separated from and reconciled to his actuality. Because in Fear and Trembling the Virgin Mary is compared to Abraham, this thesis examines at length how irony is related to Mary both in terms of her faithfulness and her maternity. Irony can then be seen as a necessary circumstance of maternity. The negative space of the female anatomy becomes ironic because it can take on more meaning than it can have alone, particularly in its ability to create (an)other person. Faith and maternity share irony as a requirement for their modes of living because both require an ironic separation from the masculine sphere. Applying the relationship of irony to faith and the maternal offers a interpretive possibilities for the knight of faith that otherwise go unnoticed.



College and Department

Humanities; Humanities, Classics, and Comparative Literature



Date Submitted


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Kierkegaard, irony, Abraham, Virgin Mary, faith, maternity, feminism