1852. New York: Literary Classics of the United States, Inc. 1983. (1)
Why read it? Although he doesn’t use the word, Hawthorne’s topic is feminism. The plot of this fiction is the defeat of an intellectual, brilliant and beautiful woman, who cannot compete with a pretty, clingy, dependent, young Priscilla. Another theme is the heartlessness of reformers.
Probably the most realistic of Hawthorne’s “romances.” Life in a “Utopian” community. Based on Brook Farm, the Transcendentalist experiment at West Roxbury, Massachusetts. Hawthorne was a feminist before his time. The story of Zenobia, a brilliant young woman, who contends with a pretty, clingy young, dependent thing for the affections of a social reformer, Hollingsworth, who cares nothing for anything other than his reforms. He wants to convert Blithedale into an experiment in prison reform.
Priscilla, the pretty, clingy, dependent young thing attracts Hollingsworth. Zenobia, the intellectual, commits suicide and even the narrator, Miles Coverdale, admits that he was in love with Priscilla. In the end, Hollingsworth, the strong, confident reformer, becomes dependent on that pretty, clingy, and now not dependent young thing, Priscilla.
Next blog: Sample quotes.