Graduation Year

2016

Document Type

Campus Only Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

English

Second Department

Economics

Reader 1

Warren Liu

Reader 2

Kerry Odell

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Terms of Use for work posted in Scholarship@Claremont.

Rights Information

© 2016 Cassandra Lim Go

Abstract

Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon and Red Harvest are examples of iconic hard-boiled detective literature that reflect on the anxieties and tensions of the 1930s-1940s. With the Great Depression looming over these decades, the genre uses the hard-boiled detective as a way to communicate with and understand this time period. In our analysis of game theory, we look at how Dashiell Hammett's characters make decisions based on the actions of other players in the game, illustrating the influences of bargaining power and manipulation. With characters that oftentimes find themselves in situations where they must collude to reach maximum utility, the novels explore the various ways in which one player takes advantage of another, almost always leading towards the detective's best payoff. Game theory provides us with a unique method to looking at literature, hard-boiled fiction particularly, as a reflection of the historical period of its conception and prime.

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