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In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance novel, Hawthorne writes about one of the main characters as well as the narrator, Miles Coverdale that wants to join the Blithedale community or Brook Farms. Other characters such as Zenobia, Hollingsworth, and Priscilla are brought into this novel to describe what is happening throughout the community. Hawthorne writes this novel to give the audience a chance to have their own experience at Brook Farms, which is an experimental socialist community. This book really gave the audience the inside look of how we can bring together the stories of one’s own life and others.
There are several conflicts that happen between the four characters. This excerpt from the novel is specifically dealing with the relationship between these characters and the change that has happened within the relationship. Hawthorne describes this change in the relationship vividly through the use of tones, metaphors, internal dialogue, and the foreshadowing by the use of allusions.
This passage comes from the essay towards the end of the novel.
It is addressing a change within him and the relationships in the novel. The narrative perspective of the narrator is seemed to be depressing and bitter. We know this because we get the sense of a relationship that has already been deeply formed, is now falling apart. It is very critical to this part of the novel because the opening paragraphs tone illustrates the narrator’s thoughts and feelings. It affects the audiences understanding of the passage, by getting a sense of destructiveness.
The use of word choice helps convey this tone, by the depressing word’s he uses within this paragraph. Such as discontent, faded, and irksomeness. The narrator states, “Everything was suddenly faded”, this could be relating to his relationship with the characters and within the community. He goes on to talk about how his view of this community is just as dry and arid as his thoughts are, and that there once used to be a sense of enjoyment. The relation to the “blighted my field of thought, and penetrated to the innermost and shadiest of my contemplative recesses”, refers to the fields of Brook Farm’s physically and the passion he used to receive from this place is now burnt out and relates to his thoughts. He goes on to compare the thoughts of the outside of this community, to his thoughts and has his point of view changed and everything that he sees reflects his inner self.
Hawthorne widely uses metaphors in this passage, to compare and contrast the narrator and his inner feelings. The first extended metaphor being used is the comparison of his thoughts and feelings to this community, to describe the change that is happening. The narrator goes on to say that this change that is happening within him, is something that everyone seems to experience within one’s lifetime. Hawthorne delivers this statement to help his audience possibly find something that is relating to them. He writes, “They discover (what heretofore, perhaps, they had not known) that it was this which gave the bright color and vivid reality to the whole affair”, the narrator feels as if that now this change has happened that he discovers this is what has really made him happy all along, and the only way that people or himself can find that out is if it truly is gone. This may also relate to the tone because it is used such controversial words.
The heart is used as a metaphor to the speaker’s thoughts. It operates in this section by Hawthorne using dialogue in this passage towards the end to give a statement, or an order. This section referring to the heart talking to the narrator gives the audience an insight to how the narrator truly feels The heart is telling the truth, but it is up to the narrator to truly believe it or not. It is as if, the heart is speaking for the mind itself. The tone of the dialogue is very orderly, giving commands saying, “Things are not as they were! – You shall not impose on me! I will never be quiet!..” The heart speaking is referred to as a synectomy, which is a figure of speech in which a part of something is used to designate a whole. The heart is used as a part of the narrators overall emotional well being. The audience is now really seeing how the speaker feels and this dialogue helps the reader find a way to cope with the narrator. The dialogue in this passage gives the reader a sense of brokenness and hurting from what the change of the relationship has done to Coverdale.
The allusion that deals with foreshadowing that is mentioned in this passage are the mentioning of Cassandra, “I would invariably lend my ear to this Cassandra of the inward depths, however clamorous the music and the merriment of a more superficial region”. The Cassandra that Hawthorne is referring to, or Coverdale, is the Cassandra from the Greek God’s that have been given the power by Apollo, to foretell the future, and the truth itself (Greek Mythology). The mentioning of this mythology gives foreshadow of what is to come, as well as the narrator’s inner voice. The reason that Hawthorne used this Greek mythology character in such a deep monologue with the narrator, is to possibly bring a sense of unity to the narrator and the reader to make him feel like he is not alone. He is comparing his thoughts to Cassandra to know that, he is not by himself when it comes to thinking these deep thoughts or telling the inner-truth in this case. This could be the narrators stating that the inner voice of grief and despair within his heart and in his mind is foreshadowing what is to come within the relationship between the four of them, or just him himself.
This passage appears in the book towards the end of the book. The chapter is called, “Leave-Takings”, and the chapter before that is called “Crisis”. Hawthorne gives the reader the use of foreshadowing by the title of the previous chapter, to notify that something will be happening and then give us the after effect from it. Another reason that Hawthorne may use certain points to foreshadow, is to comment on what path the narrator will take. Such as, “Leave-takings”, making the reader question if the narrator is going to leave or if he is just in a depressing moment within one’s self.
The foreshadowing used is served to bring together certain parts of the story, or the plot. It can be used as a strong structural device. This passage is describing the hurt, and sadness that Coverdale is going through after him and Hollingsworth got into an argument. Within the community, the people were so close and comfortable with one another that people did not argue to an extent of making one want to leave the community. Whenever Hollingsworth and Coverdale got into this disagreement, you can sense that the overall state of the characters did not feel at home anymore. Another foreshadow that Hawthorne uses is that, summer is leaving and fall is approaching. The title name is a very descriptive clue, as well as the vivid imagery he uses in the first paragraph of the text stating, “The sun-burnt and arid aspect of our woods and pastures, beneath the August sky, did but imperfectly symbolize the lack of dew and moisture that…”, and goes on to make another statement that his mind is just as dry and burnt out as the fields are.
To conclude, the overall message, or broad idea that Hawthorne is putting out there is that we as humans should always listen to ourselves, and trust our inner feelings. The hurt that can come with an argument with a close loved one, can really open your eyes to noticing the things that you didn’t notice before. The narrator even states that, when something that is apart of your everyday world is being taken away from others, they begin to notice then that what they thought did not have a huge impact on their lives, or what made them feel happy actually did in the long run. This shows the true relationship that Coverdale and Hollingsworth both had with one another. This whole book is addressed to the reader by Coverdale and gives us our own experience of Brook Farm, and this passage relates that things may not be as grand as they are. The way Hawthorne uses tones, metaphors, and dialogue in this excerpt open the reader’s eyes to change and to dig more between the lines and trust oneself.
“Cassandra.” Greek Mythology, www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Cassandra/cassandra.html.
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