Ambivalence in Hawthornian Philosophy and Art: a Problem in Harmony

Martin, Anna Margaret Scott, Department of English, University of Virginia
Calvert, James B., Department of English, University of Virginia
Stovall, Floyd, Department of English, University of Virginia

Hawthorne, by his own admission, "a person, who has been burrowing, to his utmost ability, into the depths of our common nature, for the purposes of psychological romance, --and who pursues his researches in that dusky region, as he needs must, as well by the tact of sympathy as by the light of observation," is unfortunately dependent for understanding upon some degree of equivalent "burrowing" on the part of his reader. It is a case of deep calling unto deep, and certainly those who have not made at least some sympathetic effort at delving should not be permitted to cast stones. From Henry James's accusation of "delicacy" (as atrocious in James as V.L. Parrington's infamous charge of imaginative anemia) to Hyatt H. Waggoner's compassionately reluctant lament of the tendency to fragmentation and lack of precision, Hawthorne has suffered the inevitable fate of one who has been weighed in the balances of unequal criticism and, through no fault of his own, found wanting. James, while frankly admiring Hawthorne and realizing his own indebtedness to him, was unable to assign proper literary value to to Hawthorne's variety of allegory. It is not a reflection upon James's brilliance to observe that his astuteness in evaluating behavior and mannerisms no doubt precluded the
equivalent capacity for inversion upon which an understanding of Hawthorne's burrowing inevitably depends.

MA (Master of Arts)
harmony, Hawthorne, burrowing
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