Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts



Major Professor

Patrick, Brady

Committee Members

Mary McAlpin, Katherine Kong


The purpose of this study was to research the various versions of the Thaïs legend, to review the previous criticism concerning the tale, and to apply a method heretofore unused in its interpretation, with a particular focus on the nineteenth-century novel by Anatole France. This was not done with the intent to disparage any previous methods or critiques, but rather to add something new to the considerable body of work that existed.

The primary research tools used were the MLA online bibliography and the WorldCat database. Books and articles were borrowed or provided through the main library as well as the department of Interlibrary Services at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

This study reveals common themes associated with the legend of Thaïs as well as some details that had been largely unaddressed in the past. It also offers new interpretations of certain characters’ actions and motives, which up until now have been largely associated either with the historical period in which they were written or, in the case of Anatole France, the author’s known views.

The study reaches the conclusion that Eric Berne’s theories are fruitful as a literary method applied to the legend of Thaïs. Their application reveals new perspectives on the story including the idea that the novel by Anatole France is not necessarily a disparagement of religion.

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