"It is a hell for one": "psychotic depression" and suicide in David Foster Wallace's Infinite jest
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] This Master's thesis analyzes one particular character in David Foster Wallace's novel, Infinite Jest (1996): Kate Gompert, a suicidal marijuana addict afflicted with "psychotic depression." I argue that Gompert's character serves as a kind of mouth-piece for Wallace, that is, a kind of platform from which Wallace attempts to better understand and explain the painful and indescribable depression that fermented within his own Self. While the novel consistently posits a neuroscientific, material explanation for such an illness - i.e. the primacy of the body and the tyrannical oppression of brain chemistry - there also exists a spiritual philosophical undercurrent that posits a construction of Self defined by experience and choice. My thesis is organized as follows: first, I provide a brief summary of Infinite jest, before examining the cyclical form of the novel and its manipulation of time and space. Finally, I unpack the crux of my argument - that is, Wallace's understanding of psychotic depression and "the feeling" that drives one to suicide, which remains most thoroughly elucidated in the character of Kate Gompert.
Access is limited to the campus of the University of Missouri--Columbia.