Excerpt from Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne by Melissa McFarland Pennell
Excerpt from Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne by Melissa McFarland
Pennell (courtesy of Greenwood
Here Melissa McFarland Pennell suggests that Hawthorne's sympathy for the plight
of Owen Warland in "The Artist of the Beautiful" grows out of personal experience
as well as cultural concern.
"Concerned by am American culture that increasingly valued the marketable and useful, Hawthorne feared it made little room for the beautiful and artistic. Given his own choice to pursue a career in belles letters when many of his classmates were establishing themselves in business or the law, Hawthorne brings a sympathetic perspective to the efforts of the artist. Because he differs from his peers, Owen Warland, the main character in 'Artist,' often finds himself isolated or misunderstood. Even the woman he loves cannot respond to his dreams and goals. Some critics feel that the insignificance or narrowness of Owen's creative work qualifies or limits Hawthorne's defense of him. Owen's dedication to his art and his success in creating something beautiful, however, allow him to transcend the limits of other people's visions" (54).