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Excerpts from Chapter 20, "Flower of Eden,"

James Mellow, in the biography Nathaniel Hawthorne in his Times, comments on both Phoebe's connections to Sophia Hawthorne and on her influence over the character Holgrave.

"It is clear that Phoebe, with her chirrupy temperament, her sunny disposition, and incurable optimism, is drawn from Sophia, whom Hawthorne on several occasions addressed as Phoebe in his letters. Phoebe also has Sophia's 'gift of practical arrangement,' the ability to create a habitable atmosphere anywhere she considered home--and for however brief a period. It is clear from the outset--and from the happy ending that Hawthorne starts preparing for midway through the story--that Phoebe will tame Holgrave. His radical views are verbal and idealistic; he softens rather too quickly to Phoebe's conventional attitudes. It was a persistent tenet of Hawthorne's philosophy that the influence of a good woman--Sophia's influence on himself--was an absolute necessity in a man's life and one of the indispensable foundations of civilized society." (359) (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/11592/

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