Access Type

Open Access Thesis

Date of Award

January 2012

Degree Type


Degree Name



Classical and Modern Languages, Literatures, and Cultures

First Advisor

Raffaele De Benedictis


This thesis takes a critical look at the way the semiotic code is treated by the author Seymour Chwast in his comic book the Divine Comedy. In the introduction I focused on examining parts of the communication which is based on verbal and non-verbal speech. The symbolic code belongs to the verbal speech which is analytical, conventional and arbitrary. The interpretation of the symbolic code depends also on the cultural unit. The iconic code on the other hand could be motivated or conventional depending on the way the message is brought up to the reader. The iconic code could need the accompaniment of the verbal code to make the message clearer to the interpreter. Seymour Chwast in his illustrations for example found necessary to use the help of the text to describe better his way of illustrating Dante's Divine Comedy. Without the text, the message of the comic book would have taken another turn in the reader's mind. The illustrations show the contemporary time, and without the text that is based on Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy, the message would be very ambiguous.