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Excerpt from The Student Companion

Excerpt from The Student Companion to Nathaniel Hawthorne by Melissa McFarland Pennell in which she suggests that Hawthorne anticipated the criticism leveled against Phoebe's character

"Phoebe, as her name suggests, is the source of light in the darkened world of the Pyncheon household. She is the most frequently criticized of Hawthorne's heroines, seeming too good and simple to be true. Hawthorne anticipates this reaction within his narrative as he cautions the reader against a superficial glance at Phoebe. He suggests that Phoebe has not been unduly influenced by the modern world she inhabits. She finds spiritual devotions a natural part of her life and is linked to the natural world through images of light and association with flowers. Phoebe is one with her environment, and as she draws brightness from the natural world, she radiates it to the human world around her" (98). (courtesy Greenwood Press)




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