Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2011

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

English

First Advisor

Dr. Mark Noble

Second Advisor

Dr. Audrey Goodman

Third Advisor

Dr. Michael Elliott

Abstract

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s collection of short stories, Mosses from an Old Manse, serves as his contribution to the philosophical discussions on Transcendentalism in Concord, MA in the early 1840s. While Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and the other individuals involved in the Transcendental club often seem to readily accept the positions presented in Emerson’s work, it is never so simple for Hawthorne. Repeatedly, Hawthorne’s stories demonstrate his difficulty in trying to identify his own opinion on the subject. Though Hawthorne seems to want to believe in the optimistic potential of the spiritual and intellectual ideal presented in Emersonian Transcendentalism, he consistently dwells on the evil and blackness that may be contained in the human heart. The collection of short stories written while Hawthorne lived in Concord and surrounded himself with those dominant literary figures represents the clearest articulation of his ambivalent position on Transcendentalism.

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