Counterfeit arcadias : Nathaniel Hawthorne's materialist response to the culture of reform Public Deposited

http://ir.library.oregonstate.edu/concern/graduate_thesis_or_dissertations/dv13zw46g

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  • Nathaniel Hawthorne lived and wrote in an age of reform efforts, and the progressive movement with which he was most familiar was Transcendentalism. However, he was not sympathetic with Emerson's idealism, a sentiment which comes out in his fiction in way of critique. Throughout Hawthorne's work there is an emphasis on human limitation, in stark contrast to the optimism that characterized his time a "materialist" response to idealism (as defined by Emerson in "The Transcendentalist"). And one important vehicle of this critique of human possibility is his shrewd use of biblical motif particularly the tropes of Eden and the Promised Land, which were adopted by the Transcendentalists. Although these allusions can be traced through much of Hawthorne's work, they are especially apparent in two novels: The Blithedale Romance (1852) and The Scarlet Letter (1850). Hawthorne exposes the irony behind the use of these biblical motifs by the Blithedale community (in their effort to create a utopian society) and the Puritan community, which looked to its religious leaders as the embodiment of its ideals.
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