Hawthorne Introduction

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表單的頂端…. My Kinsman, Major Molineux” [and] “Young Goodman Brown”: both probe the individual’s complex inner life and interrelationships with society, warning against simplistic moral judgments and challenging pious assumptions about Puritanism and revolutionary America. Both present eruptions of what has been suppressed; and the narrator, who asks if the guilt-obsessed Brown had “only dreamed a wild dream of of witch-meeting” and answers “Be it so if you will,” requires the reader to participate in moral judgment. For the castles of Gothic romance, Hawthorne substituted the American wilderness and the wilderness of the mind. As in a dream, his fiction pushes beyond surface reality, conveying knowledge that resists complete understanding. For more than a century, despite changes in perspective and methodology, the verdict on Hawthorne’s stature has remained virtually constant. For Henry James, Hawthorne was a great imaginative writer who was limited by the thinness of American culture and sometimes trapped into allegory; early twentieth-century critics saw him as a dreamer of dreamlike fiction and the heir of Puritan gloom; mid-century” new critics” concentrated on the symbolism and the organic unity of his fiction and analyzed recurring character types and themes. More recently, Hawthorne has been studied by poststructuralists, feminists, and new literary historians. Reader-response theorists show how Hawthorne’s texts “create” his readers;semioticians examine such signifiers as the scarlet letter; deconstructionists read his texts as hieroglyphs that resist final interpretation; and his conception of romance and his rhetorical performance and reassessed. Scholars ask how he used history, how family constellations shaped him and how marketplace values controlled him, and trace his status as a literary celebrity from his time to ours. He is understood as a self-aware writer who conceals even while revealing himself through his narrators and his characters, as in the fictionalized autobiography of “The Custom House” and the novel it introduces.        Feminists point out that through such sympathetic characters as Beatrice Rappaccini and Hester Prynne, Hawthorne indicted patriarchal society by showing how it victimizes women. They note that he expressed greater respect for women’s individuality and autonomy than most male writers, and thought marriage should be an equal partnership. Yet they also note his uneasiness about women’s sexuality and his conflicted attitudes toward independent women(such as Margaret Fuller). His much-criticized remark about the “mob of scribbling women” expressed resentment at the popularity of women’s novels and contempt for what such popularity required, though he praised “genuine” writing by men and women alike.For everyone, textual analysis has been abetted by the Centenary editions; and biographical study has become easier with the publication of Hawthorne’s letters. The critical consensus continues to be that Hawthorne was a shrewd and large-minded writer who read widely and pondered deeply about the human condition and American identity from Puritan times to his own. Though afflicted by self-doubt and constrained by a materialistic society that did not adequately reward serious artists, he created texts whose power, profundity, and artistry command our attention.Hawthorne’s structured irresolutions require his readers to become collaborators who examine character and behavior, attentive to the narrator’s voice and developments of plot, character, theme, and imagery. He makes us probe beneath surface appearances and permits no simplistic judgments: characters are not simply good or bad but mixed. We evaluate them in terms of their interfusion of mind, heart, and imagination, and what they nurture or destroy. The admired ministerDimmesdale proves to be a hypocritical self-absorbed adulterer, while the...
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