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Excerpt from The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Margaret Moore (courtesy of University of Missouri Press)

Excerpt from The Salem World of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Margaret Moore (courtesy of University of Missouri Press)

In this passage Margaret Moore suggests that the alienation Owen Warland experiences in "The Artist of the Beautiful" is a reflection of the alienation Hawthorne himself experienced both in connection with his long-dead Hathorne ancestors and, more vividly, in connection with the very much alive Mannings with whom he spent his youth.
"The family tradition of the Mannings pervaded Hawthorne's work. Blacksmiths and men of iron often appear in his pages. Perhaps the most pertinent example is the story, 'The Artist of the Beautiful,' in which Peter Hovenden, the retired watchmaker, prefers for his daughter Annie 'the worker in iron . . . He spends his labor on reality.' She indeed marries the blacksmith, Robert Danforth, who earns his 'bread with the bare and brawny arm of a blacksmith.' The artist, Owen Warfield, tries to produce beauty in the shape of a butterfly, from machinery. The story deals with the estrangement of the artist from 'that order of sagacious understandings who think that life should be regulated, like clockwork, with leaden weights.' It is hard not to believe that Hawthorne is concerned here with his own relationship with the Mannings in 'an atmosphere of doubt and mockery' that he sometimes felt . . . Surely it was not only his Hathorne ancestors whose misunderstanding he sensed for his life's work" (48).



Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/11725/


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