Hawthorne in Salem Search Hawthorne in Salem





Facebook Page
[Home]  

In "Stowe and Hawthorne" from Hawthorne and Women: Engendering and Expanding the Hawthorne Tradition, James D. Wallace describes Harriet Beecher Stowe's portrayal of a young man who delights in "Rappaccini's Daughter" and escapes from his masculine world by entering the enchanted garden and connecting to the mysterious Beatrice.

"[Harriet Beecher] Stowe's gestures at creating a convincing male narrative voice in the House and Home Papers are few and feeble and, for that very reason, arresting. One such gesture occurs at the beginning of ‘The Lady Who Does Her Own Work,’ when she represents [Crowe] at leisure:
I was lying back in my study-chair, with my heels luxuriously propped on an ottoman, reading for the two-hundredth time Hawthorne ‘Mosses from an Old Manse,’ or ‘Twice-Told Tales,’ I forget which, --I only know that these books constitute my cloud-land, where I love to sail away in dreamy quietude, forgetting the war, the price of coal and flour, the rates of exchange, and the rise and fall of gold. What do all these things matter, as seen from those enchanted gardens in Padua where the weird Rappaccini tends his enchanted plants, and his gorgeous daughter fills us with the light and magic of her presence, and saddens us with the shadowy allegoric mystery of her preternatural destiny?

The moment is arresting for several reasons. First, it suggests something about the ‘use’ of Hawthorne's fiction by at least some nineteenth-century readers. Clearly he is a ‘much-loved’ author. Twice-told Tales had first appeared in 1837, Mosses from an Old Manse in 1846, and already they have the status of old favorites, reread in preference to any more recent fiction. Second, Hawthorne takes the reader out of everyday life, away from the ‘business’ of the masculine sphere -news, markets, money, the public arena-into ‘dreamy quietude’ and solitary detachment, the world of imagination. Third, there is an ‘oriental’ strangeness about Hawthorne's fiction, a quality that evokes words like ‘weird,’ ‘enchanted,’ ‘light and magic,’ ‘shadowy allegoric mystery,’ and ‘preternatural.’ Fourth, although the specific story in question, ‘Rappaccini's Daughter,’ is a kind of protofeminist fantasy in which a young man's attraction to and fastidious revulsion at the female body is analyzed and punished, the pleasure ‘Crowfield’ takes and the escape he achieves are somehow specifically masculine; it may be an escape from the world of business, but it is not an entry into the domestic" (Wallace 92-93). (courtesy of University of Massachusetts Press)




Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/10504/


About US Privacy Policy Copyright Credits Site Map Site Help