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Perspectives on the Portrayal of Women in Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Fiction

Journal: Praxis International Journal of Social Science and Literature (Vol.4, No. 2)

Publication Date:

Authors : ;

Page : 24-29

Keywords : Deviant; misogyny; patriarchal; otherness; ambiguity; unconventional; frontier; femme fatale;

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Nineteenth century American fiction is marked by its deepened awareness of the necessity to break free from traditional modes of thought and to break down the static notions of society in order to bring about a greater acceptance of the new age opening up with the expansions of the frontiers and other revolutionary changes in the social and political scenes. The non-conforming woman was so long seen as a destructive force but in the novels of the American Renaissance she is, for the first time, seen as a reformer and a renovator who would help create a new society from the vestiges of the past. Nathaniel Hawthorne shows a similar change of attitude from the polarities of the previous literary ages in the woman characters he creates in his novels and short stories. But his vision of the possibilities of the women who refuse to conform seems to be enveloped with insecurity and uncertainty. Therefore, although he admires the courage, daring and independent mind-set of the women he creates, no doubt inspired by certain women he saw around him, he cannot bring himself to give his heroines the status that is due to them. However, there is a sense of mourning at the defeat of such courageous specimens of womanhood which is amiss in the works of his predecessors. This article aims to bring out these dichotomies as displayed in Hawthorne's depiction of women.

Last modified: 2021-06-21 23:49:48