Rebels haven’t always been sexy. In fact, throughout history “fighting the power” has often revealed the ugliest side of human nature. Of course, sometimes rebellion is necessary, even if it isn’t pretty, but it should never be considered lightly. So, under what circumstances is rebellion against authority—particularly a governing authority—morally sound? Is mutiny ever justified? Such questions are difficult, perhaps impossible, to answer, but literature can be a powerful tool for dissecting them. Captain Frederick Marryat (1798-1848), often called the father of naval fiction, used his novels to air these and other morally ambiguous questions for an early Victorian readership. At a time when widespread poverty, food shortages, and social injustices were leading to heated protests, Marryat’s microcosmic ships were a space to think through issues of rebellion, discipline, and the appropriate use of authority. This thesis analyzes two of Marryat’s novels, The King’s Own (1830) and Mr. Midshipman Easy (1836), highlighting themes of authority/discipline and the rhetorical functions of his didactic style. It’s easy to oversimplify Marryat—a patriotic ship captain and veteran of the Napoleonic Wars—as a classic establishment figure, but a close reading of these texts reveals that he was much more than an imperial flag-waver.
College and Department
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Johnson, Jessica, ""Arguing the Point" in Marryat's Midshipman Novels" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 8927.
Marryat, rebellion, revolution, mutiny, reform, meritocracy, didacticism, midshipman, novel, equality, navy, maritime, sea, adventure