1. 2. Nahaniel Hawthorne. The Birthmark (I) (2014)Apunte Inglés
Classe de dimarts 14/10. Part 2.
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1. 2. NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE. THE BIRTHMARK (I)
Poe is a lot more descriptive and detailed than Hawthorne. He uses a rather didactic style, perhaps even
moralistic, and a lot of people don’t like him because of this. In the opening paragraph of The Birthmark
we already have elements that would be important and, in addition, it helps us with the structure: “not
long before our story opens”.
Poe always treats the reader as an adult and he uses a lot of adjectives and repetition, but in Hawthorne we find a really clear syntax. It’s the kind of writing that professors encourage their students to write, in balanced structure, connectors, etc. It has echoes of oral and children’s literature.
There has been the dream of Illustration, of evolving the reason ad infinitum, but the dream is soon smashed. And that time, some people still believed, but the author was skeptic. He presents a conflict between idealism and scientism.
Aylmer cannot tear apart his job from his family life. ‘Ail’ means ‘pain’, and ‘mer’ means ‘sea’ in French, so we have ‘a sea of pain’ or ‘a sea of troubles’ as the name of the main character. This way, Hawthorne chooses names with a meaning for every character. Aylmer is a very recognized scientist, but he’s an alchemist, he mixes scientific truth with spiritual beliefs.
We have several issues: science, marriage, the marriage of love and science. The wife’s name is Georgiana. There’s a classic book, Les bucòliques and Les geòrgiques, which means ‘working on the land’.
Aylmer wants to remove Georgiana’s mark off her cheek. In this connotation, ‘charm’ means ‘good luck’.
Something that is positive for her is negative for him and has to be removed.
The narrator is quite intrusive. The fact that the mark is crimson may be foreshadowing what will happen in the end of the story. There are semiotics and multiplicity of meanings in the story.
‘Eve of Powers’: when you’re contemplating a bust, you find a little stain and the statue becomes useless to you or loses his value. This is what happens to Aylmer with his wife.
Biographical Sketch (Salem, Massachusetts, 1804 – Plymouth, New Hampshire, 1864) - Descendant of Puritan immigrants (one of his ancestors involved in the Salem witch trials in 1692) - A rather introverted man. Aylmer is a little bit like Hawthorne, isolated from the rest of the world.
- Writer of New England themes; known for his allegorical texts.
- Graduated from Bowdoin College (Maine) in 1825.
- After that, he spent over 10 years of his career only writing short stories. He was pretty obsessed with becoming a professional writer. He sent a letter to his contemporary Longfellow in 1837, telling him that he was all day at home writing and he was afraid to go out. This shows how obsessed he was, just like Poe was as well, but in a different way.
- Lived at the Utopian community of Brook Farm in 1841.
- Married Sophia Peabody in 1842. They lived in Concord for 3 years in the ‘Old Manse’. Between 18461849 he worked as inspector at the Salem Custom House.
- 1850 publishes The Scarlet Letter, which is related with all the revision he makes about his Puritan past.
- Moves to Lenox, in the Berkshires. Meets Melville.
- 1853-57 American Consul in Liverpool - He nearly devoted the last 10 years of his life to writing novels (he was interested in literary professionalism and at one point considered it unprofitable to write short stories) [against “mob of scribbling women”].
At that time, the literature that most people were reading was written by women, and Hawthorne couldn’t stand it. Women were also writing a lot of short stories for magazines for feminine readers.
Novels: Fanshawe (1826), The Scarlett Letter (1850), The House of the Seven Gables (1851), The Blithedale Romance (1852), The Marble Faun (1860) Short stories: Twice-Told Tales (1st series, 1837; 2nd series, 1842), Mosses from an Old Manse, and Other Stories (1846).