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Excerpts from James R. Mellow's Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times

Excerpts from James R. Mellow's Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times

Hawthorne biographer James R. Mellow examines the internal evidence for the sexual tension between Coverdale and Hollingsworth in The Blithedale Romance as a possible parallel for elements in the personal relationship between Hawthorne and Melville.

"But however important the relationship between the sexes is to the novel, the critical confrontation in The Blithedale Romance is between two men, Coverdale and Hollingsworth, and it, too, has sexual implications. . . . 'There is not the man in this wide world whom I can love as I could you,' Hollingsworth seductively tells Coverdale. 'Do not forsake me!' The weight of the announcement, led up to by an intimate exchange between the two men, hints at something more than an easy euphemism. The subtle implication is that Hollingsworth is quite prepared to use his personal charisma as a weapon in dealing with both sexes. Coverdale concedes that if, at that moment, he had merely touched Hollingsworth's extended hand, he would have been so overpowered by Holllingsworth's 'magnetism' that he would never have resisted" (399).

Mellow clarifies that Melville's likely inspiration for Hawthorne's Hollingsworth raises more questions about the authors' relationship.

"But there was a recent relationship in Hawthorne's life with a man of 'about thirty years old' that could have provided the deeper psychological motivation for the character of Hollingsworth. Had Hawthorne --consicously or unconsciously --sensed the sexual urgency behind Melville's courtship? Had he sensed, as well, a certain responsiveness in his own attitude? Some recent relationship, it would seem, had allowed him to plumb the relationship between Hollingsworth and Coverdale, making it more than a confrontation of types, a war of social ideologies" (400).(From Nathaniel Hawthorne in His Times, by James R. Mellow. Copyright (c) 1980 by James R. Mellow. Reprinted by permission of Georges Borchardt, Inc, for the Estate of James R. Mellow.)

Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/12487/

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