The Writer's Role in Nonviolent Resistance: Václav Havel and the Power of Living in Truth

Open Access
Eppinger, Margaret
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Humanities
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Catherine Wanner, Thesis Supervisor
  • Dr. Cathleen Denise Cahill, Honors Advisor
  • Czechoslovakia
  • Velvet Revolution
  • Václav Havel
  • writing
  • revolutions
  • resistance
  • communism
  • Soviet Union
  • censorship
In 1989, Eastern Europe experienced a series of revolutions that toppled communist governments that had exercised control over citizens’ lives for decades. One of the most notable revolutions of this year was the Velvet Revolution, which took place in Czechoslovakia. Key to the revolution’s success was Václav Havel, a former playwright who emerged as a political leader as a result of his writing. Havel went on to become the first president following the regime’s collapse, and is still one of the most influential people in the country’s history to date. Following the transition of Havel from playwright to political dissident and leader, this thesis analyzes the role of writers in nonviolent revolutions. Havel’s ability to effectively articulate his ideas gave him moral authority in a region where censorship was the norm and ultimately elevated him to a position of leadership. His role in Czechoslovak resistance has larger implications for writers and the significance of their part in revolutionary contexts.