William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist and Rhetoric–Dialectic Interplay
Abstract

Abstract:

This article closely analyzes a partnership between the literary, rhetorical, and dialectical dimensions of William Blatty’s The Exorcist (1971), a popular horror novel about a twelve-year-old girl possessed by an ancient demon, Pazuzu. The Exorcist navigates the theological understanding of transcendental unity—Beauty, Goodness, and Truth (found in the theories of Plato, Thomas Aquinas, and contemporary Thomists). The “evil” dimensions of The Exorcist (ugliness, sin, and lies, respectively) counterpoint the beauty–goodness–truth relationship; consequently, Blatty’s horrific/repulsive elements highlight the role of Catholic truth, heighten the dialectical function of Catholic theology, and enhance the power of argumentation within a literary work. By closely unpacking several dialogues within Blatty’s The Exorcist, this article establishes the novel as an accessible piece of “Catholic horror” that persuasively guides popular audiences through modes of theological argumentation toward sites of Catholic understanding.