it is not hard to be convinced that Nathaniel Hawthorne was born to write in the manner of Dickens and Balzac.
In The Blithedale Romance he did. There are gothic furbelows attached to the novel, also-spook stuff and mystifications to gratify a taste we have long since lost. Yet strip these romantic tatters away and what remains is not only a keen dissection of the Brook Farm idealists, but- in more human and pathetic terms this time-another profound representation of the sexual enigma that lies at the core of The Scarlet Letter.
It is said, and usually said with a timidity proper to such identifications, that the character Zenobia in The Blithedale Romance is modelled on Margaret Fuller, one of the more ornate transcendentalists and no doubt a real handful during her visits to Brook Farm. As portrait, Zenobia does poor justice to the headlong, gallant, wasteful woman who was the real Margaret Fuller.But in her own right, within the confines of the novel, Zenobia is powerfully realized. Her infatuation with the windbag reformer Hollingsworth is a disturbing comment on the vulnerability of all superior women.
The scene in which Hollingsworth fishes for her drowned body with a pole taken from the well is as moving and solemn, as humanly revealing and dramatically effective, as anything in the American novel. Put this scene beside the great stage effects of The Scarlet Letter if you wish to conjecture which side of hawthorne’s genius was potentially the greater. You may conclude that he could have been as eminent in realism as he was in symbolism and allegory.
( see link at end) …In America, only Hawthorne dared to have a woman play a principal role instead of being part of the scenery or a victim. To such a mission he added an equally towering theme: that man’s fear of women keeps him forever lonely and is the chief bar to a harmonious hearthside. But what editor or publisher thought this theme was saleable? Practicality, therefore, as Barbara Ellis states in “Some Observations about Hawthorne’s Women” dictated that Hawthorne “dress the message in allegory. Better a cryptic message than none at all.”
In his short stories and romances, Hawthorne creates a wide range of female characters. Some are strong, independent-minded, and self-confident, like Hester Prynne and Zenobia. Others embody the gender expectations for women in Hawthorne’s day, such as Phoebe
Pyncheon. Many of his female characters serve as redemptive figures for men who have isolated themselves or cut off their ties from their supporting community. Hawthorne also presents a number of female characters who are victims of men, destroyed by male power. Through these various characters and their experiences, Hawthorne explores the gender relations in his day. He also raises questions about the role of domesticity in shaping female characters and the role of emotion as well as reason in human experience. In some works, Hawthorne presents older women as central figures and through them explores the legacy of the past and the ways in which women are shaped by their
individual and community history. Sympathetic to most of the female characters who appear in his works, Hawthorne presents the complexity of women’s lives at times of profound social change, whether in his own day or in the historic past. Read More:http://www.upm.ro/facultati_departamente/stiinte_litere/conferinte/situl_integrare_europeana/Lucrari/Stefanovici.pdf