Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “My Kinsman, Major Molineux” is a tale of opposites and upset expectations. The ideal of the country or rural life is met by the overpowering, even corrupted nature of city life. Robin, the protagonist, the country boy striving to make it in the big city, is constantly being torn between his rural roots and the appeal of urban opportunity and success. Through diction and a careful characterization of nature, Hawthorne depicts a scene rife with tension between rural and urban where the country is ultimately overtaken by and surrenders to the city.The short story begins with Robin’s thoughts of the town, which are ridden with a sort of sarcastic indignation. Torn between his country roots and the city’s opportunities, Robin tries to remain loyal to his rural home by passively slighting the city, calling it a “snore of a sleeping town.” The reader knows that the city is not boring—after all, it is home to a handful of colorful characters, notably a wily prostitute and a two-faced man. One could reasonably assume, then, that the evaluation of the town as a “snore” is meant more to persuade Robin than the reader. As a rhetorical device, “this snore of a sleeping town” makes the city sound unremarkable and ordinary, though, as the reader soon discovers and may already know, the town is anything but ordinary. In another attempt to make the city sound unexciting, Robin claims that the tedious silence is only occasionally broken by “a distant shout, apparently loud where it originated.” The inclusion of the word “apparently” yet again makes Robin sound sarcastic, as if the sound of the shout was so distant and weak that, while it may have been threatening in its place of origin, it is not menacing for him. Robin recognizes the stark differences between rural and urban life and therefore assumes a position of defense, repeatedly trying to convince himself that the city is not a threat to his country roots. Robin is, in fact, frightened by the city life and its urbanity, which is why he decides to climb into a window frame and look at the inside of a church. Being the son of a clergyman, it makes sense that Robin should seek solace and pace in the church: he hopes to be reminded of his father and his rural hometown, rooting him in something familiar and comforting. Robin feels the need to defend the rural by slighting the urban because, as the language in the passage exhibits, the urban is slowly yet systematically conquering the rural. The moonbeams entering through the church window are characterized as “trembling” and weak, “[falling] down upon the deserted pews” and “hovering about the pulpit.” The moonlight here, symbolizing all of nature, is weak and hesitant, unsure of its position in the city and constantly mitigated by the urban landscape. The moonbeams “[fall] down” on the pews, making their presence seem passive, nearly accidental. Hawthorne writes that a “solitary ray had dared to rest upon the page of the great Bible,” implying that nature must possess a sort of audacity to exist in the city. Furthermore, the story explicitly asks the reader to consider nature’s relationship to the manmade city: “Had nature, in that deep hour, become a worshipper in the house, which man had builded?” This rhetorical question leads the reader to believe that nature has bent to the whims of man, existing only in the city by accident or by permission. Robin, aware of nature’s inevitable defeat by and surrender to urbanity, feels his “heart shiver with a sensation of loneliness stronger than he had ever felt in the remotest depths of his native woods.” Seeing nature bend to the city’s rules unnerves Robin, leaving him with a profound sense of loneliness and even a distorted sense of reality, hence his nearly trance-like, dreamy state. Robin is consumed with overwhelming loneliness and hopelessness because he is, in fact, the only purely natural thing remaining in the city. Even in his loneliness, however, Robin is conceding to the persuasion of the city, stating that his emotions had never been as intense, even “in the remotest depths of his native woods.” That is, they city conjures and claims Robin’s strongest emotions, yet again triumphing over the country.By establishing a power struggle between the country and the city, Hawthorne challenges the idyllic notion of nature’s power. As Robin wanders the urban streets and sees the moonlight overtaken by manmade, city buildings, the reader begins to realize that, in “My Kinsman, Major Molineux,” nature loses its power and inevitably succumbs to the persuasion of the city. By closely examining this passage, a thorough reader might even be able to predict Robin’s response to the strange man’s offer at the close of the story. If Robin’s actions follow this trend of the urban triumphing over the rural, he will most certainly become the shrewd young man he claims to be by deciding to stay in the city and forsaking his rural roots.
Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown” challenges preconceived notions of religion and offers another view. His view of religion is pessimistic, as his titular protagonist de-evolves into a disillusioned old man whose “dying hour was gloom” (12). Melissa McFarland Pennell highlights the central problem of this story when she observes, “[Brown] perceives the actual, sees what his imagination induces, […] accepts what the devil insinuates [and] never questions the validity of the scenes and sounds that he detects, but he does begin to doubt heaven” (35). Brown’s uncurious nature towards the events pertaining to religion that are happening around him leads us to question the meaning of faith and religion. Alfred Kazin notes that “the belief in salvation through the extraordinary, complex and ultimately inexplicable will of God that kept the Puritans snug and safe [was] something Hawthorne couldn’t bring himself to believe” (29). Though various critics have commented that Hawthorne did not agree with the Puritanical approach of Christianity, I am not suggesting that his attack on religion here is an act of rebellion; instead, Brown’s muteness challenges the readers to question our preconceived notion of religion, and this lack of curiosity in Brown thus highlights the assumptions made about religion. Ultimately, Hawthorne distinguishes between faith and religion, and proposes that there are differences despite being similar, thus inviting us to review our attitudes towards religion.One critique of religion that Hawthorne offers is that religion impedes conjugal bliss, which is the hallmark of a happy marriage. James C. Keil reveals that the constructions of female identity by the Puritans “were based on Eve’s seduction by the devil and her deception of Adam in the Garden of Eden” (40). This suggests that females were “sexually predatory”(39), a characteristic of Faith that Hawthorne subtly hinted at in the opening of the story with the repeated thrusting motions of her head and the images of her “pink ribbons” (1). The pink ribbons are a symbol of her femininity, and the repetitive insistence of them suggests that she is engaging in coquetry. Keil also points out that “Puritans feared that love of spouse could rival and interfere with love of Christ.” When Brown was about to set off on his journey, Faith implored that he “tarry with me this night,” “when her lips were close to his ear” (1). As expected of Brown based on this religious gendering, he defended himself by questioning her faith in him instead. This inherent conflict between the constructions of female identity and religious obligation becomes an obstacle in their marriage, such that when Brown returns from his trip, he “passed on [Faith] without a greeting” (11).The sexual imagery in the opening paragraph where Brown “put his head back” while Faith “thrust her own pretty head into the street”(1), followed by Brown rejecting Faith’s advances when he rejects her request to delay his trip mirrors an unfulfilling act of penetrative sex. Faith’s sexual aggressiveness compounded by Brown’s passivity prompts Keil to further suggest that Brown might have been a virgin when he entered the forest, and in light of the Puritan ideal, it may be rightly so. Brown’s trip into the forest signals a shift in the story’s focus from his conscious to his subconscious that is represented by the darkness of the forest. To Keil, the forest symbolizes moral wilderness and chaos for the Puritans. He supports his claim as he asserts that this assumption would make “Brown’s focus on stains and bloodspots covering the earth that much more vivid and significant” (footnotes, 53). In light of the contradictory constructions of gender, his virginal state thus implies that religion is a repressive force that disallows him from seeking sexual fulfillment. Reginald Cook provides another interpretation of this forest scene when he proposes that “the descent is symbolized from daylight into night, from consciousness to subconsciousness, from reality to illusion, from physical to psychical, from light to dark” (478). What Brown discovers in the forest leads him to exclaim that “My Faith is gone!” (7). He discovers that “evil is the nature of mankind” (478). This is a pivotal moment in the story as it signifies his ready acceptance of the loss of his beliefs that he grew up with. When he returned to his village after his discovery, he lost faith in his community and subsequently distanced himself from them. D. M. McKeithan puts forth the interpretation that Brown was committing a sin that was not explicitly mentioned by Hawthorne, but “he had confidence in his ability to indulge in the sin – whatever it was – once more and then resist all future temptations” (94). This would thus highlight the hypocrisy of Brown, for he is allowed to indulge in sin while judging the rest of his community. Though McKeithan explains that Brown saw evil in everyone because “his sin led him to consider all other people sinful [and] came eventually to judge others by himself” (96), I am more inclined to agree with Cook’s interpretation that “the symbolic forest of the night is, in effect, young Goodman Brown’s own soul where belief turns into doubt, faith into skepticism” (479), because that would more effectively account for his stoic belief that his ancestors “are a people of prayer, and good works to boot, and abide no such wickedness” (3). Cook’s interpretation would also make Brown’s final isolation more poignant, and his initial urgency at returning to Faith more real, if he originally believed that there was sincere piety in his community. Regardless, Brown’s ready refutation of his religion makes us question our treatment of religion: What is the basis of a religion? In “Young Goodman Brown,” Hawthorne seems to be suggesting that if one can renounce his religion so readily and without question, then perhaps religion is arbitrary and unnecessary. However, we have to note that faith and religion seems to be two separate issues. Faith becomes allegorical in this story as it is the name of Brown’s wife as well as an abstract noun. Keil highlights that “in Hawthorne’s lifetime women, thought to be morally superior to men, were entrusted with preparing children for Christian salvation” (40). This thus alludes to the idea that Faith/faith salvages. Religion, on the other hand, though ideologically linked, is made separate in this story. Here, religion refers to the performative acts of faith. This is what Hawthorne seems to reject. He refused to take part when the congregation were “singing a holy psalm” (11), and turned away when the family “knelt down at prayer” (12). Yet, Hawthorne does not dismiss faith because “[shrinking] from the bosom of Faith” may lead to a “[gloomy] dying hour” (12). Hawthorne’s narration eventually creates an emulsion of faith and religion, and he is careful to point out that the outward performance of faith is in fact, hypocritical.Through Brown’s unquestioning acceptance of the devil’s insinuation, Hawthorne reveals his critique of religion. By symbolically evoking the image of Faith’s sexuality, her pink ribbons, he reveals Brown’s conflict between the ideologies of marriage and religion. He critiques the contradictory gendering of the Puritans and suggests that it has the potential to make one impotent. Brown’s ready acceptance to refute his lifelong religious beliefs further questions the basis of religion. Nonetheless, as he shatters the myth of religion, he is careful to show that whilst faith is an intrinsic part of religion, it is distinct and separate, and ultimately, he recognizes that faith has the potential to salvage. Works Cited Cook, Reginald. ‘The Forest of Goodman Brown’s Night: A Reading of Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”’ The New England Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 3. (Sep., 1970), pp. 473-481. < http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0028-4866%28197009%2943%3A3%3C473%3ATFOGB N%3E2.0.CO%3B2-W >Kazin, Alfred. “Hawthorne and His Puritans”. God and the American Writer. New York: Vintage Books. Pp. 24-39. Keil, James C. ‘Hawthorne’s “Young Goodman Brown”: Early Nineteenth-Century and Puritan Constructions of Gender.’ The New England Quarterly, Vol. 69, No.1. (Mar., 1996), pp. 33-55.
“‘My Faith is gone!’” (Hawthorne 394) cries Young Goodman Brown after seeing his wife’s pink ribbon fall from the sky and then realizing that humanity is depraved. Although Faith is the name of Brown’s wife, it is also a metaphor for his interior faith in God. In “Young Goodman Brown,” Puritan attitudes towards faith and evil are carefully considered by Hawthorne and described at various levels of depth in the story. Many critics have difficulty deciding on the overall theme of this story, though, and there is a mixed response towards the motives for Hawthorne’s writing of this piece. When examining Puritan theology and the historical context of the short story, “Young Goodman Brown” is transformed into several moral lessons based on the importance of faith which, in turn, supports Calvinistic beliefs. The story of Goodman Brown includes many references to biblical stories and Puritanical beliefs. Although Brown believes he is an upstanding person of a respectable family line, he allows his curiosity to betray his faith. Brown arrives late to his meeting with the evil figure and explains that, “‘Faith kept me back a while’”(Hawthorne 388). Brown hesitates because he realizes that his journey with this devilish being is sinful. This story parallels the biblical story of Adam and Eve and the fall of man. Although the pair knew it was against the orders of God to eat the fruit from the tree of wisdom, Satan tempted them into committing sinful acts. This single act decides the fate for the future of mankind as sinful beings, but this was not the only outcome in the eyes of the Puritans: “the Puritan version [of the fall of man] goes farther still. Not only human nature but all nature suffered the consequent disaster . . . What surrounds us, what we look upon and commune with, its not nature as it issued from the hand of God. It is nature red in tooth and claw, perverted from its original, the domain of the Prince of Evil and of his subject, natural man” (Jones 277). Hawthorne incorporates both of these Puritanical beliefs into his story: he creates a paranoid monster from the once innocent Goodman Brown and the natural setting regresses into an unsafe, unknown forest of evil. Brown describes the fearful nature of the wilderness after proclaiming his faith is gone: “The whole forest was peopled with frightful sounds – the creaking of the trees, the howling of the wild beasts, and the yell of Indians” (Hawthorne 395). Although Goodman Brown was confident when entering into the forest with the devilish being, his temptations cause him to lose faith and become unsure of humanity and nature. Although this need for exploration could be viewed as a critique of the overbearing nature of the Puritans, Hawthorne includes a similar moral lesson as the biblical story, in which curiosity is punished and faith is the escape from evil. Furthermore, Hawthorne’s usage of language in describing Goodman Brown’s journey into the forest reflects Puritanical speeches. Although his trip into the forest is an act of curiosity and exploration, Brown describes it as an “errand” on several accounts. For example, when Brown discusses leaving Faith, he says, “‘What a wretch am I to leave her on such an errand!” (Hawthorne 388). By utilizing wordplay, Brown attempts to create a martyr out of himself, in attempts to overcome the evil presented by the devil. He acts as if he must leave his religious faith and experience evil before being able to become completely loyal to God. The word “errand” has historical background in the Puritanical setting: “Suffice it to say that Young Goodman Brown’s ‘errand’ into the wilderness recalls the Puritans’ ‘Errand into the Wilderness,’ a metaphor first enunciated in Samuel Danforth’s election sermon of Matt 11, 1670 . . . [Hawthorne] also incorporates the root of the Puritans’ identity and enterprise: their self-remarked likeness to the children of Israel in the wilderness” (Christophersen 203). This also reflects a certain mocking of the contradictory nature of Puritan ideals, because Hawthorne exploits the hypocrisy of his main character; on the other hand, Hawthorne is supporting the necessity of faith when entering into an unknown territory. As would be the concerns of Puritans who intend to settle in several new areas, Hawthorne discusses the importance of maintaining a religious stability in order to overcome evil. Unfortunately in the case of Goodman Brown, he abandons his faith before entering into the wilderness, leaving him susceptible to the Devil and his evil followers. Therefore, after experiencing the evils of nature and the unknown, Brown returns to civilization as a lost man who is unable to maintain a firm religious stance. Hawthorne discusses this lost nature of man in relation to Calvinistic belief as well. As Goodman Brown enters the unknown forest, he believes that his mental abilities to overcome evil will protect him. When he abandons his faith, he is attempting to overcome the Devil through his own mental stability and strength. His belief in himself represents a very different Puritanical belief: “For all insistence on man’s unworthiness, his corrupt nature, man still bears the image of God in some measure engraven on him. He is therefore, says Calvin, however lacking in intrinsic merit, a creature of no small dignity and excellence” (Jones 277). Brown’s dignity is illustrated clearly by Hawthorne through his attempt to overcome evil without the aid of his faith. Unfortunately, as the reader observes, Brown’s will power and respectability is not sufficient enough to defeat the Devil’s temptations; instead, Brown victimizes himself by abandoning his faith and entering into unknown territory. After his experiences in the forest, Hawthorne describes Brown as, “A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful, if not a desperate man . . .”(Hawthorne 399). Goodman Brown becomes lost due to his self-assurance and dignity and due to his abandonment of faith. The nature of man continues to be questioned when Goodman Brown experiences total depravity in the forest. He is witness to powerful and religious figures from his society participating in various forms of devil worship and witchcraft. Brown’s shock and horror of seeing those he respects as active members of this evil cause him to question his own purity: “Goodman Brown stepped forth from the shadow of the trees and approached the congregation, with whom he felt a loathful brotherhood by the sympathy of all that was wicked in his heart” (Hawthorne 397). Although he believed he had the mental ability to overcome the Devil, Brown joins the crowd due to the innately evil nature of humans. Corresponding to the fall of man parallel in the beginning of the story, Brown completes the final stages of his temptation into evil by destroying his faith: “What [Brown] perceives is in fact the nature of man: he is not mistaken. But because he looks upon it without the intervening medium of faith, his merely human eyes can see no reality beyond it” (Jones 279-280). This is similar to the Puritanical idea of predestination. Although humanity may appear to be faithful beings or upstanding citizens, their fate may be one of evil and destruction. As Brown experiences depravity without the aid of his faith, his fate is decided for him because he completely loses his grasp of God: “His implication is that the doctrine of the elect and damned is not a faith which carries man heavenward on its skirts, as Brown once believed, but, instead, condemns him to hell – bad and good alike indiscriminately – and for all intents and purposes so few escape as to make on man’s chance of salvation almost disappear” (Connolly 375). Brown’s prearranged experiences with evil has caused him to lose his sense of reality and faith and eventually leads him to damnation. By witnessing the true nature of man without the aid of his faith, Brown’s own nature turns to one of evil. This balance of evil and faith has been questioned by several critics that attempt to find a thematic unity within the text. For example, Connolly believes that, “not only did [Brown] retain his faith but during his horrible experience he actually discovered the full and frightening significance of his faith” (371). Although Hawthorne describes the importance of faith in detail, Brown’s journey is a regression from the confident, religious being he once was into a distrustful, weak man. While he did learn the truth of predestination and man from a religious stance, his abandonment of faith causes him to become a victim to the evil he experiences. Connolly fails to address the issues of Brown’s faith before entering into the forest and its slow decline throughout his journey. From the Puritanical perspective, Brown’s mistake is abandoning his faith in order to overcome the evils of his society and of the world. His journey represents the biblical fall of man, which the Puritans believed was the source of all man’s sin. Although critics have disagreed on the motives of Hawthorne’s writing of “Young Goodman Brown,” from a historical perspective, the story represents the Calvinistic beliefs common during that time. While Hawthorne may have intended on attacking the overbearing and contradictory nature of the Puritans, Goodman Brown is a character that exemplifies the moral corruption caused by a loss of faith. Through several biblical parallels and Puritanical beliefs, Hawthorne illustrates that faith is the only protection from the evils of the world and that by exploring the world without religious faith, humanity is susceptible to depravity. Works CitedChristophersen, Bill. “‘Young Goodman Brown’ as Historical Allegory: A Lexical Link.” Studies in Short Fiction 23.2 (1986):202-204. Connolly, Thomas E. “Hawthorne’s ‘Young Goodman Brown’: An Attack on Puritanic Calvinism.” American Literature 28.3 (1956): 370-375. Hawthorne, Nathaniel. “Young Goodman Brown.” A Handbook of Critical Approaches to Literature. Ed. Wilfred L. Guerin, et al. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 2005. 387-400. Jones, Madison. “Variations on a Hawthorne Theme.” Studies in Short Fiction 15.3 (1978): 277-283.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s popular short story “Young Goodman Brown” incites mystery and intrigue in its readers for several reasons. “Young Goodman Brown” produces a multitude of questions and interpretations as to the precise events of the protagonist’s nocturnal journey. Who does Goodman Brown really meet in the forest? Was his experience in the forest a dream, or reality? This ambiguity is central to the form of the story as a whole. Hawthorne intentionally creates ambiguity in “Young Goodman Brown” with the forest setting, which is conducive to optical illusions, his use of dubious descriptive language, and the narrator’s doubt as to the reality of events to explore the ramifications of perceived reality. One of the most noticeable elements in “Young Goodman Brown” is the eerie setting, which plays a key role in the ambiguity of the story. The deep, dark forest that Goodman Brown enters on his nighttime journey sets the stage for the doubt that consumes his mind for the remainder of his life. The darkness of the thick forest acts as a veil so that the reader does not truly know the reality of who or what Goodman Brown encounters on his excursion. As the narrator states, “The traveler knows not who may be concealed by the innumerable trunks and the thick boughs overhead; so with lonely footsteps he may yet be passing through an unseen multitude” (610). From the moment Brown enters the forest, Hawthorne alerts the reader to the fact that the idea of doubt plays a central role in the story. The narrator also explains that the “uncertain light” may allow for “ocular deception” (614). This statement acts as a cornerstone from which the reader can build a case for disbelief in the reality of the night’s events. Another instance of deliberate ambiguity through a possible illusion occurs when Brown’s senses detect figures and events throughout the story. “He could have sworn…he recognized the voices of the minister and Deacon Gookin” (614). Still, even in this example, when Brown seems sure of their existence, he never clearly sees the figures. His line of sight is obscured by the blackness of the night and the forest growth, and thus his recognition of his fellow townspeople relies only on his sense of hearing. Hawthorne purposely sets the tale in the depths of the forest, an environment that fosters a sense of illusion and doubt in both Brown and the reader. Similarly, Hawthorne creates ambiguity through dubious descriptions of the characters Brown encounters on his journey. Even when Brown does see figures in the forest; the narrator describes them as just that, “figures” – an ambiguous term in and of itself. The term “figure” connotes a representation of a thing or person, and does not describe the actual thing or person itself. When describing the characters Brown meets along the way, Hawthorne also uses the term “visage”, which also implies the appearance or representation of a person, and not necessarily the true person (617). Hawthorne deliberately describes the events and characters of the story in such a way as to evoke questions from the reader. A prime example of another questionable description is when Brown first meets his traveling companion. Upon entering the forest, after Brown asks, “What if the devil himself should be at my very elbow,” a figure appears (611). Because Brown’s question precedes the appearance of his traveling companion, it leads the reader to wonder whether the traveling companion is indeed the devil – a fact never confirmed by the narrator. Additionally, the narrator notes that Brown and this male figure “might have been taken for father and son” (611). This statement is supported when Goody Cloyse asserts that the traveling companion is the devil appearing as Brown’s father, Goodman Brown (613). Is the devil merely taking the form of Brown’s father, or is Hawthorne implying a deeper connection between the devil and Goodman Brown? The reader cannot be certain. The continual use of language such as “might”, “may yet be”, and “as if” further blurs the line between reality and fantasy and plays an integral role in Hawthorne’s formula for ambiguity. The reader can find this deliberate use of qualified and conditional language throughout the story. The doubt of both the narrator and Brown lead the reader to doubt the events of the story. Just as the descriptions given for the events in the forest evoke uncertainty in the reader, so too do the direct statements of the narrator’s doubt regarding the events of the story. Throughout the text, the narrator continuously raises explicit questions concerning Goodman Brown’s experiences, thereby intentionally confusing the reader. When Brown hears the voices of the minister and Deacon Gookin, the narrator questions, “Whither, then, could these holy men be journeying so deep into the heathen wilderness?” (614). When Brown detects the figure of a woman warning him back during the black mass, the narrator inquires, “Was it his mother?” (617). And finally, after Goodman Brown reenters the village a changed man, the narrator challenges, “Had Goodman Brown fallen asleep in the forest and only dreamed of a witch-meeting?” (618). This series of questions, along with others found throughout the text, leads the reader to question every aspect of the tale, including the location of the events, who was present at the black mass, and the validity of the tale as a whole. Hawthorne deliberately sprinkles these questions throughout the story to throw the reader into a state of inquiry and disbelief. Though Brown, the narrator, and the reader all question the reality of the night’s events at various points throughout the story, it is clear at the conclusion of the tale that Brown’s experience has very real ramifications on his life, regardless of whether the events are real or imagined. After the narrator questions whether the events were a dream or reality, he states: “Be it so if you will. But alas! It was a dream of evil omen for young goodman Brown. A stern, a sad, a darkly meditative…man did he become, from the night of that fearful dream” (618). The narrator explains that the real effects of the night include a distant relationship with his wife, children, and community and asserts that: “his dying hour was gloom” (619). The perceived reality has lasting effects on Brown even though the reader picks up on Hawthorne’s deliberate ambiguity and is thus moved to question the validity of the tale. Hawthorne explores the nature of imagination and reality in this mysterious and grim tale by allowing the reader to actively question the tale despite the fact that the protagonist seems to believe wholeheartedly in the reality of the night’s events. He combines a multitude of elements in “Young Goodman Brown” to create a sense of mystery. The dark setting of the forest, which provides camouflage for the figures, the use of language which alludes to possible double meanings, and a narrator who seems to be unsure of the events of the story himself, are all examples of how Hawthorne utilizes ambiguity as a key element in the formation of this short story. However, despite the ambiguity, the reader witnesses the real ramifications that the events have on Brown’s life, which in turn leads them to question the very concepts of imagination and reality.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s short story “Young Goodman Brown,” is an allegory rich in sexual repression. By psychoanalyzing the main character, one can discover that “Goodman Brown” is not simply a battle between good and evil, but also one of a more sexual nature.The short story begins with an image of Brown’s wife Faith, and “the pink ribbons of her cap” (Hawthorne 67). Throughout the story, the image of the pink ribbons is brought up numerous times, suggesting that they are more than just a pretty thing to tie one’s hair with. Clearly there is more to the ribbons than that. The fact that they are pink shows the femininity of the woman. The fact that they bind, or secure, Faith’s hair symbolizes Brown’s inability to escape his predetermined role of a Puritan husband. The ribbons constantly remind him of his ‘faith.’ Consciously, or subconsciously, it is the ribbons of the woman that refuse to release him.Goodman Brown’s “pretty young wife” Faith, whose “hair is bound with pink ribbons,” practically begs him to stay at home, threatening that “disturbing thoughts” would trouble her if he were to leave (67). Brown, instead, asks Faith to be a “good little girl and say her prayers and go to bed” (68). By saying this he is able to keep his ‘appointment’ in the forest, thus allowing him to avoid the conflict and in return keep a handle on his emotions. This is an attempt to put her back into a position that his male ego can accept, without consciously acknowledging her sexual advances. This behavior could also signify his unwillingness to engage in normal sexual encounters because he believed them to be sinful, thus causing an emotional conflict that he could not cope with.Goodman Brown’s experience in the forest reveals to him the sexual nature of people. Brown’s observance of this is curiously devoid of revulsion. This would suggest that he is rationalizing his own repressed sexuality and thus pacifying his feelings of guilt by projecting his own deeply repressed id onto the most respected townspeople. Brown’s own insecurities lead him to see that even Goody Cloys, his catechism teacher, seems to vanish with the aid of Satan’s staff. The use of a witch image to describe Goody also signifies the evil side of women that his superego refuses to see under normal circumstances.The man that Brown meets in the forest is inarguably Satan, who almost universally represents the opportunity to fulfill repressed desires and unlock the id. Further discussion with the Satan-like figure reveals that he has had a relationship with all of Browns’ ancestors, claiming “they were my good friends…we had many a pleasant walk along this path” (69). The man is attempting to reassure Goodman Brown that his feelings are completely normal. The figure of darkness even goes so far as to recall some of the Brown’s ancestors’ more unsavory behaviors, such as the whipping of a Quaker woman through the streets of town. The information that Satan is in contact with everyone that Brown has ever respected, up through the governor, suggests that Brown has no moral idol to emulate. This condition precludes him from continuing to repress his dark side through hero worship.The staff of Satan’s “which bore the likeness of a great black snake” is another sexual symbol (68). Goodman Brown dismisses the idea that he can’t take his eyes off of the man’s “remarkable staff” by telling himself that “it may have been an ocular deception assisted by uncertain light” (69). The shadowy figure encourages Brown’s thoughts of uncertainty by saying “you will think better of this by and by. . . .take my staff to help you along.” When Goodman Brown does eventually use the staff it is “wet with evening dew”(71). This is yet another sexual image. The staff that is described as being “twisted” and much like “a living serpent” is similar to that of the image of the snake that encourages Adam and Eve to give into temptation in the Garden of Eden (68). The staff of the devil is thus tempting Brown to see his own sexuality in a new light, one which he cannot completely comprehend.After Goodman Brown approaches the “black mass” which can be seen as a secret which he has yet to shed light on, he confronts an image that he perceives as his mother, who urges him to turn away from the temptation (72). This externalization of his mother as the voice of good, or his conscience, displays evidence of his unresolved Oedipus complex. The mere fact that he sees his mother while engaging in a sexual encounter shows his subconscious desire for her.The revelation of his wife Faiths’ membership in this dark community comes as the greatest shock. Brown exclaims, “I have lost my Faith” (73). He has lost his religious faith, he has lost his wife to the forces of evil, and he is now forced to reevaluate his personal ideal of women in general. The fact that Hawthorne yet again mentions the pink ribbons suggests that the third interpretation has the most validity. The ribbons are now gone and are no longer seen as binding him to Faith.The story concludes by showing the inscription on his tombstone “for his dying hour was gloom,” suggesting that he was not a happy man during his life (77). This was because he was never fully able to attain a grasp on his own sexuality, or on sexuality period. The observation could be made that guilt from giving in to his desire and from being forced to confront unresolved Oedipal and other sexual issues had made him unhappy his entire life.
In his short story, “Roger Malvin’s Burial,” Nathaniel Hawthorne explores such fundamental themes as good, evil , sin, family, pride, and penance. However ,from the onset he warns us, “my tale is not of love”(Hawthorne 25). This is instead a tale of the depths of the human psyche and an explication upon the horrors of a tortured soul. Hawthorne uses the afflicted heart of Reuben Bourne as a medium to promulgate on the consequences of not following one’s own conscience. For from his story we can surmise, as he makes it quite apparent, that the retribution for not following one’s innate sense of right and wrong is severe and to be suffered intensely. Furthermore, it is a sin that must be expiated.To begin to understand Hawthorne’s message, it is vital to examine his primary vehicle, and main character, Reuben Bourne. Bourne is introduced to the reader as a lighthearted youth on the brink of being “born” into manhood. On his way home from battle his real journey begins. What initially appears to be slightly ironic about this section is Hawthorne’s description of the surroundings, “The early sunbeams hovered cheerfully upon the tree tops”(18). This seems unexpected here because he goes on to describe the wounded nature of the soldiers. However, this is a reflection of the moral state of Bourne, which at present is innocent and pure. As the story progresses Bourne, against his better judgment, leaves Malvin to die alone in the forest. Here we gain some further insight into Bourne’s character. We know that he has a sweetheart at home, Malivn’s daughter, and we can see that intrinsically he wants to do what is right by Malvin, “I will dig a grave here by the rock, in which is my weakness overcome me we will rest together”(18). In spite of this, he lets Malvin convince him that it would be more reasonable for him to leave. “Tarry not, for a folly like this, but hasten away, if not for your own sake , for hers who will else be desolate”(20). Here is where Bourne’s internal strife is conceived, the moment he lets his intellectual reasoning over take his inherent sense of what is right. This is over come by his ” desire of existence and hope of happiness…”(22).As he leaves the forest, it begins to represent isolation and despair. Here, isolation from oneself, despair at the death of Malvil. Hawthorne also continues his weather metaphor, “On the second day the clouds gathering densely over the sky, precluded the possibility if regulating his course by the position of the sun”(23). This is merely the beginning of a series of references to light and dark representing good and evil that will gauge for the reader the moral temperature of Bourne.Upon reaching home Bourne exacerbates his guilty sentiments by avoiding the truth of what happened to Roger Malvin. He does this out of “pride, fear of losing her (Dorcus, his love), affection, the dread of universal scorn forbade him to rectify this falsehood”(25). This fear of isolation is paradoxical because by evading it he ultimately creates it. The remorse he felt for leaving Malvin, though justifiable, was the impetus for this concealment, which caused him to suffer “the mental horrors which punish the perpetrator of an undiscovered crime”(25). Once again Hawthorne employs light, which is manifested good, as something unbearable to contrast the sinfulness of Bourne’s soul, “…tottering from his sick chamber to breathe the sunny air, experienced from every tongue the miserable and humiliating torture of unmerited praise”(25).As Reuben continues his life he is an unhappy man consumed by his shame “he was finally a ruined man” (26). He now has a son, Cyrus, is it apparent from annotation in the text that this name is an allusion to the biblical Cyrus who would save Israel, while Reuben is an allusion to the biblical Joseph’s brother who left him to die though his heart told him to do otherwise (26). Cyrus also seems to embody all that was virtuous in Reuben, “whatever was good and happy in his own nature had been transferred to his child..”(26). Once again in the month of May, eighteen years after Malvin’s death, a month of spring, of rebirth, and of new life, Reuben returns to the forest. The tremendous gravity of this experience is foreshadowed by his intentions, “He was to throw sunlight into some deep recesses of the forest”(26). Reuben’s sunlight has faded, any good he had can now be found in his child. Once again he returns to the place of isolation, which this time is not only representative of the isolation with himself but with his family and with his community. This time the symbolism of death is not only relevant to Roger Malvin, but to Cyrus as well.The pine that had been cheerful the first May are now described repeatedly as “gloomy” (28, 29), serving as a reminder of Reuben’s internal strife and how he has changed in these eighteen years past. The climax of the story occurs when Malvin is “unable to penetrate the secret place of his soul where his motives lay hidden,” here “he believed that a supernatural voice called him onward and that a supernatural power had obstructed his retreat”(29). Faced with reason versus intuition he chooses the latter, and in doing so, makes the irreparable mistake that will ultimately expiate his sin. He unwittingly sacrifices his only son, much in a biblical fashion, and through this he is redeemed. This is also apparent in the sapling, which Reuben stained with his blood years prior and is now grown strong, though like Reuben is dead at the top. By returning his innocence in the form of his son to the forest, and dying, as he was perhaps intended to do all those years ago, he has been saved.Hawthorne utilizes a variety of references, symbols, and ideas to convey his message that the retribution for not following one’s innate sense of right and wrong is severe and to be suffered intensely. Through the development of the main character, Reuben Bourne, Hawthorne makes apparent the harrowing affects of going against the core of one’s being, the conscience. The torment of the human psyche is only the beginning of the sorrow. The price of peace, he shows us, is not a simple one to pay.Works CitedHawthorne, Nathaniel. “Roger Malvin’s Burial.” Ed. James McIntosh. Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Tales. Ontario: Norton, 1987.17-32
Throughout his works Young Goodman Brown, The Minister’s Black Veil, and The Birth-Mark, Nathaniel Hawthorne uses symbolism to show that all humans are inherently flawed and are sinful by nature, and teaches the lesson that you can not obsess over it or try to defeat the nature of our natural imperfections because it will lead to self destruction. Each story has symbols that represent mankind’s innate flaws, such as the important people in Goodman Browns’s life that are part of the Devil’s community, the veil, and the birthmark. Through each of these symbols, the characters Goodman Brown, the Minister, and Aylmer recognize that everyone is naturally flawed, and cannot let this knowledge go. Knowing this affects them deeply and causes each of them to end up living sad and lonely lives. Hawthorne uses these stories to teach us not to obsess over the fact that everyone is naturally flawed as these characters did.
In Young Goodman Brown, Hawthorne uses the characters that Goodman Brown sees at the Devil’s congregation as symbols of revered people that are naturally sinful in order to show that everyone is inherently flawed. Goodman Brown’s reaction to seeing this serves as a lesson that obsessing over the natural fact that all humans are sinful can be extremely detrimental. Characters such as Goodman Brown’s ancestors whom he looked up to such as Goody Cloyce who had taught him, the Minister who was supposed to be pious, and the Deacon who is supposed to be noble represent wholesome and respectable people who have contributed to Goodman Brown’s life, and Hawthorne uses them to show that even people who seem dignified are naturally sinners. Goodman Brown admires all of these characters and thinks that they are especially virtuous, however he discovers that they are affiliated with the Devil. The Devil also represents Goodman Brown’s grandfather in the story, which shows that even “venerable” people who one may look up to are sinners. In the end of the story his faith helps him to leave the sinful community, however he can never let go of the knowledge that all of the people so important in his life are so sinful. From then on, he looked at all these people in a different way; he obsessed over the fact that everyone was naturally so flawed, and could not handle this knowledge. He became a “stern, a sad, a darkly meditative, a distrustful” man. He was changed and essentially destroyed by obsessing over this fact. Hawthorne uses his story to teach the lesson that we are all naturally sinful and flawed, but we can not obsess over it because it will destroy us.
In The Minister’s Black Veil, Hawthorne uses the black veil as a symbol of sins to give another example of someone who has realized that everyone is inherently flawed and obsesses over it, which leads to their downfall. Randomly, the minister veils himself one day and refuses to take it off for the rest of his life on Earth. He does this as a symbol of his recognition of his own sins, and claims that “on every visage [there is] a Black Veil.” He claims that everyone has black veils, symbolizing sins, and he chooses to wear his sins for the rest of his life. Wearing the Black Veil scared people away, and ended up making him die a lonely, secluded man. Hawthorne uses the minister as an example of somebody who obsessed over human’s natural corruption and ends up depleting his life because of it. This serves as another warning that we must accept mankind’s innate flaws and not obsess over it or let it take over our lives.
In The Birth-Mark, Aylmer similarly leads himself to his own downfall by obsessing over Georgiana’s birthmark, which is a symbol of flaw. Georgiana is described as a beautiful, almost perfect woman, with her only “flaw” being the unusual birthmark on her cheek. This birthmark represents Georgiana’s flaw. Hawthorne uses this symbol to show that even the most “perfect” humans naturally have flaws. Aylmer obsesses over the birthmark and is determined to remove it. He tries to surpass nature with science and beat the natural imperfections of mankind, however in doing this he ends up killing Georgiana by mistake. He was so obsessed with the intrinsic flaws that he felt he had to overcome nature, which led to him killing his own wife and similarly to the other characters, living a lonely, unhappy life.
Each of these stories exemplify the fact that all humans are inherently flawed and sinful, and each has a character who obsesses over it, which leads to their downfalls. Each character discovers these flaws and can not let them go, which changes them and separates them physically and emotionally from all others, leaving them to live unhappily and die alone. Hawthorne uses these stories to teach the lesson to accept that all humans are naturally flawed, but to not let the knowledge of it take over our lives because we can not change the nature of it, which destroys us.
There exists an entirely different dimension, where illusion and deception form people’s personalities and rule their lives, and that dimension is exists here, everyday of our own entire lives. We all live lives only according to what is in our own heads. Whether it be optimism bias, groupthink, or the fundamental attribution error, we all use basic psychological techniques to place ourselves on a pedestal, and blame everything than ourselves for our misfortunes, while attributing any success to our doing. In this way, we are able to make life bearable and avoid self-deprecating beliefs. We do all this without even realizing it. However, this form of thinking can be a slippery slope if we are not extremely careful. How easily people’s self-aggrandizing beliefs can be brought to the surface and lead to ruin is perfectly revealed the short story “Dr. Heidegger’s Experiment” by Nathaniel Hawthorne.
Dr. Heidegger’s induced deception makes everyone (except Heidegger himself of course) passionately believe they are something or someone they are not. Through Heidegger’s use of a placebo, the manifestation of each patient’s idea of their perfect, past self from the days of their youth is created, and each is fooled. This deception can be compared to something like a virus, once one is infected, delusions rapidly spread from person to person until none are in a healthy mind. All the patients rapidly come to believe each is going to be living in a fictional world where everything they desire has become reality. Just like people do to a lesser extent everyday, the four patients all deceive themselves with selfish visions of grandeur.
The vastly conceited old Widow Wycherly slips into a self centered lie, adhering to the notion that you could possibly cure wrinkles if you drink a lot of water. Initially skeptical “You might as well ask whether an old woman’s wrinkled face could ever bloom again.” (Hawthorn 3). Wycherley immediately overcomes these doubts the same way all of the others do, through her own overpowering desire for them to be true. She hopes the magical potion will work. Remarking the impossibility while craving it to be true causes a bit of self-induced cognitive dissonance, and refusing to employ any logical thinking in her wish to ignore the simple truth the transformation is impossible, decides instead to allow herself to be deceived. After Wycherly downed the first glass “…she started up and ran to the mirror, still dreading that the ugly visage of an old woman would meet her gaze.” (5). Revealing on some level she still knew the potion to be fraudulent. (Wycherly) stood before the mirror curtseying and simpering to her own image, and greeting it as the friend whom she loved.” Wycherly’s primary source of joy comes from her reveling in her own beauty, and now that it has faded, she resorts to lying to herself as if everything in the world is just as it once was in her youth. Wycherly is the first to be unable to contain her desire for newfound youth “Pray favor me with another glass!” (6). Lying to herself, she is eager to participate in being fooled, making her feel she has regained her lost beauty to satisfy her esteem, as impossible as this is.
Having been previously overindulgent in life’s more sinful pleasures, Colonel Killigrew in the beginning overtly establishes he does not believe Dr. Heidegger’s story even after witnessing the rose’s transformation, while Mr. Gascoigne and Mr. Medbourne don’t say much, at first almost afraid to hope Heidegger’s story is true. When you feel strongly about something you get serious, meaning the Colonel and gentlemen are deeply embedded in the lie without even realizing it, the deception has become their reality. “Ahem. said Colonel Killigrew, Who believed not a word of the doctor’s story.” (4). at first. The power of the mirage is shown after the doctor warns them to be wary of the potion’s effects, and all scoff at his thinly veiled prediction. Naturally, once the potion is consumed, in the revitalization of his restored youth “Colonel Killigrew all this time had been trolling forth a jolly bottle song, and ringing his glass in symphony with the chorus, while his eyes wandered toward the buxom figure of the Widow Wycherly.” (5). While the former politician “(Mr. Gascoigne’s) mind seemed to run on politics topics. Now he rattled forth full-throated sentences about patriotism, national glory, and the people’s right; now he muttered some perilous stuff or other, in a sly and doubtful whisper, so cautiously that even his own conscience could scarcely catch the secrete…again, he spoke in measured accents, and a deeply deferential tone, as if a royal ear were listening to his well-turned periods.” (5). already returned to his corrupt ways. The former venture capitalist Mr. Medbourne is already back with a new scheme, despite having previously lost it all “Mr. Medbourne was involved in a calculation of dollars and cents, with which was strangely intermingled a project for supplying the East Indies with ice, by harnessing a team of whales to the polar icebergs.” (6). After Wycherley suggests a dance, a huge conflict over her affection ensues, their burning passions proved unabated. “Inflamed to madness by the coquetry of the girl-widow, who neither granted nor quite withheld her favors, the three rivals began to interchange threatening glances. Still keeping hold of the fair prize, they grappled fiercely at one another’s throats.” (7). A deadly conflict has been created from an apparition, only by what is seen inside the three gentlemen’s heads. The colonel’s comments are not the only thing which are said to be “…not always measured by sober truth;” (5.) Reality is revealed as “the tall mirror is said to have reflected the figures of the three old, gray, withered grandsires, ridiculously contending for the skinny ugliness of a shrivelled grandam.” (7).
Dr Heidegger is playing with them, fooling the three gents and Widow Wycherly, hoping to teach them a lesson, “Did you never hear about the Fountain of Youth?” (4). Dr. Heidegger is clearly leading them on. His guests insist he “Give us more of this wondrous water!” (5). By this time his patients are desperate, Dr. Heidegger has succeeded. He now has the four guests convinced this magical water is the key to eternal youth, everyone is under the spell. Everything from here on out only gets worse for the four guests. “It appears to be fading again.” (7). Soon the potions ‘effects’ decline, revealing the pitfalls of such extreme self-serving bias. The doctor knew that the flower was going to fade and showed his guests, causing them to despair and ending hopes of being young again.
The four “venerable friends” (1). are introduced into world of illusion and deception, where everyone becomes eager to give in to something false under the guise of something to good to be true. The experiment proved Heidegger’s hypothesis, saying “if the fountain gushed at my very doorstep, I would not stoop to bathe my lips in it–no, though its delirium were for years instead of moments. Such is the lesson ye have taught me!” (10). Understanding that the past is the past, such is its virtue, and tricking oneself into longing for it is entirely pointless. Wycherly and the three gents might not notice, but they are now trapped in a state of illusion and deception, and they never recognize this, having grown none the wiser. “…the doctor’s four friends had taught no such lesson to themselves. They resolved forthwith to make a pilgrimage to Florida, and quaff at morning, noon, and night, from the Fountain of Youth.” (10).
The patient’s shared pure self-interest resulted in them living permanently in their own ignorance and the pursuit of something which should be clear to all of them does not actually exist, a profound warning to police one’s view of the world when concerned with one’s own desires, because if we are not careful, reality will easily elude us.
Similar to most of Hawthorne’s works, The Minister’s Black Veil not only exemplifies the issues of morality, repentance and sin within the setting of Puritan New England, but it also exhibits the familiar literary theme of conflict between the individual and society. Through this kind of social, psychological and moral conflict, Hawthorne criticizes the Puritan image of original sin, as well as the stereotypical views this particular society bears regarding Reverend Hooper.
In spite of Milford’s religious community, the townspeople are quick to judge and resent Mr Hooper without ever directly enquiring him of the reason he wears the black veil to obscure his face. While “one or two” are considerate enough to assume that it is only because his “eyes were so weakened by the midnight lamp as to require a shade”, a majority of the community prefer severe accusations of his morality and mental health over good-judgment and practical questioning. It is evident that the society’s reaction towards Mr Hooper’s harmless black veil reflects their unfavourable qualities of ignorance and hypocrisy. Their antagonism however, does ironically bring them closer together as a community against the minister; the veil “supplied a topic for discussion between acquaintances meeting in the street, and good women gossiping at their open windows”.
Moreover, their reactions also prove the stereotypical views which they bear in regards to prominent – or more specifically – religious figures such as Reverend Hooper. As a minister, he is expected by the townspeople of Milford to be infallible; free of sin or of ultimately any wrongdoing. He is a kind of role model which the Puritan society rely on for guidance to purity and piety. However, the “horrible black veil” acts as a mask of sin, an object that “could portend nothing but evil” in the eyes of society. It emphasizes whatever immorality the minister might have done rather than conceal it. It is intended to remind people of the original sin inherent in all of them; a motive which unfortunately has always been disagreeable to the surrounding community, as people are always eager to hide their sins rather than admit it to the public. Therefore, the misconceived notion that the veil is worn to cover up some embarrassing sin is unacceptable to society, as Mr Hooper is, in their point of view, supposed to maintain the countenance of sanctity and not to be like the ordinary, wrongdoing man.
Besides this, the people of Milford appear to resent the fact that there is something of the minister that they do not know. It is possible that as a religious, prominent figure, the community expects Mr Hooper to be open and sincere with them, rather than conceal some “secret sin” or a secret in general. Just as how people of the contemporary age are always demanding for more information on famous celebrities, to the point where secrecy is meaningless, the townspeople are unhappy with the knowledge which Mr Hooper appears to know that they do not.
Although Mr Hooper does nothing more than wear a black veil, and continues his everyday duties as minister without difference, the community reacts with hostility; “strange and bewildered looks repaid him for his courtesy”, and their faces are always “pale” with fear when acknowledging him. As a response to Mr Hooper’s unnatural decision, society tries to overpower him, in spite of his respected position as a minister. They are insistent on the removal of the black veil, without considering its significance and submitting to the moral lesson it upholds. Even after listening to a prayer of the minister’s which explains the veil’s representation of a religious idea, the community continues to reject it. It is because the people fear the subject which the veil symbolically embodies: repentance, and their rejection of the veil signifies their refusal to repent. This proves that the society is misguided, as they overlook the fact that Mr Hooper is at a position of religious authority and tries to exercise their power over him.
On the other hand, it appears that the minister is not entirely the victim, as his adamant refusal to take off the veil, even when alone, highlights some stubbornness in his temperament. He is tangibly more spiritual than others, and is more devoted to the afterlife than his life on earth. However, with this profound resolution there is the obvious hint of arrogance in his quest for spiritual connection. Mr Hooper states that “this dismal shade must separate [him] from the world”, as though the world is such a detrimental place to live in. It connotes the idea that he is far better than the world, or is deserving of a better setting.
Lastly, society uses the common argument of a sinking reputation and public judgments against the minister to coerce him into giving up the black veil. This is done through Elizabeth, Mr Hooper’s wife, who declares, “Beloved and respected as you are, there may be whispers, that you hide your face under the consciousness of secret sin. For the sake of your holy office, do away this scandal!” This statement exemplifies the society’s unwarranted excessive care and concern over reputation and the judgment of other people, even if it were for the sake of religion. Mr Hooper contradicts this criticism with the modest excuse, “If I cover it for secret sin, what mortal might not do the same?”
In this fashion, the conflict between Mr. Hooper and society ensues throughout the story, and his achievement at keeping the veil on even at death proves his victory against his adversaries. However, it is a bittersweet triumph, as the minister wins at the expanse of rejection and alienation from everybody else, even the woman he loves.
Critical readings of Hawthorne’s “The Birth-Mark” tend to focus mainly on Aylmer’s attempt to overpower the hand of God, and the boundaries between science and nature. In the vast array of scholarship on the story, however, little has been said of its racial undercurrent. Written in a time in American history when racial biology and eugenics dominated scientific studies, Hawthorne’s story is obsessed with the notions of whiteness, purity, and physical appearance. In this paper, I intend to prove that Aylmer’s desire to remove Georgiana’s birthmark represents nineteenth-century white anxiety about miscegenation, and the desire to advance a superior, white race.It will better serve my purpose to first examine some of the theories of racial biology that were popular around the time of the story’s publication. Two works will be of particular help: Samuel Otter’s Melville’s Anatomies and Shawn Michelle Smith’s American Archives. Otter identifies many of the studies in racial differences, while Smith relates these studies to the preservation of the white middle class, and the role of visual culture in nineteenth-century America. According to Otter, Dutch anatomist Petrus Camper arranged skulls in ascending order, based on cranial measurements. His study, From Ape to Apollo Belvedere, concluded that the “geometric equations by which the angle of the face increased” was directly proportionate to “the civilized characteristics of its wearer” (Otter 34). After evaluating the shapes of different human heads, German physiologist Johann Friedrich Blumenbach concluded that “the Caucasian cranium was aesthetically superior,” and therefore “must have been the original type of head created by God” (24). Studies in phrenology, craniology, physiognomy, and other branches of science concluded universally that the Caucasian, in body and mind, was superior over all other races.Smith traces the ways in which the white middle class used racial biology and eugenics to affirm its place in society and prevent other races from gaining social mobility. Not only the body, but the blood of whites, too, was considered superior, and miscegenation posed a major threat to that superiority. Whites were harshly discouraged from interbreeding, since the blood of another race would contaminate and weaken “pure” Caucasian blood. Demonstrating the widespread fear of miscegenation, a mid-nineteenth century law ordered the sterilization of prisoners and mental patients. Smith also notes that the superiority of Caucasian blood was an important factor in the psychology of lynching. “The white lynch mob’s cry of rape,” she claims, “functioned to incite outrage not only at the violation of ‘innocent’ white womanhood but also at the ‘contamination’ of the white bloodline” (147). Often, whites castrated black males prior to lynching; the idea was to literally remove the “threat” of interracial mixing and feminize the black male body in order to reclaim white male superiority. Both Smith and Otter agree that by the 1850s, scientific justification of racial inequality was accepted as fact.At the beginning of “The Birth-Mark,” Aylmer tells Georgiana that her birthmark is a “defect,” and the “visible mark of earthly imperfection” (qtd. in Lauter, 2225). Implicit in his remark is that Georgiana’s birthmark compromises her beauty because it compromises her whiteness. The narrator’s description of the birthmark as being “a crimson stain upon the snow” (2226) is particularly telling. The word “stain” is highly suggestive of white racism, as is the association of a blemish-free face with snow, or whiteness. The birthmark’s threat to Georgiana’s whiteness is also a threat to the whiteness of her future offspring. According to Smith, in the nineteenth century, the middle-class white woman was the “locus of biological inheritance,” (124), or vehicle through which the advancement of a superior, white generation could be achieved. Thus, Georgiana’s birthmark presents an obstacle to the reproduction of a white child in Aylmer’s image.Here, again, it will be helpful to turn to Smith’s historical account, particularly her treatment of the family photograph album as a social document and a vehicle for preserving the white middle class. In the chapter entitled “Baby’s Picture is Always Treasured: Eugenics and the Reproduction of Whiteness in the Family Photograph Album,” she argues that members of the white middle class documented their existence in family albums as a way of preserving their place in society. In his studies in eugenics, Francis Galton brought elements of science into the family album. With a desire to develop scientific proof of white superiority, he encouraged white middle-class families to document details of their babies’ physical growth. By charting their babies’ growth and matching it with predetermined standards, white middle-class families could affirm scientists’ claims about superiority and ensure that their children would continue their legacy. Smith argues, “we can begin to read the growing interest in ‘baby’s picture’ not only as a commercial fad or a sentimental ritual but also as a desire to delineate the future of racial bloodlines through photographic artifacts. In this expanded cultural context, ‘baby’s picture’ signifies not only as a sentimental memento but also as the scientific ‘evidence’ of the family’s racial reproduction” (132).The important comparison in Smith’s argument is between the middle-class white woman and the camera. She writes, “The role of the middle-class white woman as both the mechanical reproducer of “baby’s picture” and the biological reproducer of whiteness (in the baby’s body) converged in the nineteenth-century science of eugenics” (124). The picture of a white baby became an emblem of racial reproduction, while the white mother, through photographic and physical reproduction, preserved and propagated the biological superiority of the white middle class.Smith’s reading of baby portraits and family photograph albums sheds new light on the scene in Hawthorne’s story involving photography. The moment at which Aylmer makes a daguerreotype of Georgiana is indeed a crucial point in the story, and one that is frequently overlooked by critics. The daguerreotype of Georgiana is important on one hand because it identifies Aylmer and Georgiana as members of the middle class. As Smith writes, “Daguerreotypy opened up the elite domain of portraiture to members of the emerging middle classes… In one sense…the daguerreotype portrait functioned as a middle-class appropriation of aristocratic self-representation, as a sign of emerging middle-class cultural power” (13). The narrator’s description of Georgiana’s boudoir provides further evidence of Aylmer’s middle-class status: “The walls were hung with gorgeous curtains, which imparted the combination of grandeur and grace, that no other species of adornment can achieve…” (2229). The placement of the daguerreotype in the story, coupled with the narrator’s description of the boudoir, locates Aylmer in the middle class, making him a representative figure of nineteenth-century white males who desired to preserve their legacy.More importantly, the daguerreotype of Georgiana is a way for Aylmer to “test” Georgiana’s reproductive capabilities. Just as nineteenth-century baby pictures served as evidence of the propagation of a white middle class, Georgiana’s daguerreotype serves as evidence of her potential to produce offspring; the image reproduced in the metallic plate is symbolic of her future progeny. After Aylmer produces the daguerreotype, the narrator tells us that Georgiana finds “the features of the portrait blurred and indefinable,” and that the figure of a hand appears “where the cheek should have been” (2230). The appearance of the birthmark in Georgiana’s portrait suggests that her offspring will be “tainted” with the same “stain,” or mark of racial identity. Thus, when Aylmer snatches the metallic plate and throws it into a jar of corrosive acid, he responds to the visual threat that his offspring will not be purely white.I must pause briefly to address one possible critique of my reading thus far. The evidence about family albums on which I have drawn to make my claims is anachronistic in reading “The Birth-Mark.” Family albums only became widespread after Kodak’s introduction of flexible film and the birth of mechanized printing establishments in 1888 (Hales 260-261). However, I contend that the consideration of photography as a means for preserving the white middle class is still highly relevant to interpreting the story. Smith notes, “From the moment of its 1839 inception in daguerreotypy, the first photographic process, the photographic image has been conceptualized as a means of preserving family history and of documenting family genealogy” (116). Furthermore, the relationship between visual culture and the preservation of the white middle class is one of several themes in Hawthorne’s The House of The Seven Gables, published only eight years after “The Birth-Mark.” Smith writes, “The correspondence between Holgrave’s physical qualities and his personal character resonates powerfully with the racialized connection linking body to mind that Francis Galton would proclaim and that Josiah Nott imagined decades earlier” (43). Thus, it is not inappropriate to use Smith’s interpretation of family documents as a tool for reading Hawthorne’s story. Nor is it unfair to assume that when writing “The Birth-Mark,” Hawthorne was frequently thinking about the significance of the daguerreotype with respect to race and racial biology.In fact, the narrator gives several clues to Hawthorne’s preoccupation with race and racial biology. When Aylmer exclaims, “Georgiana, you have led me deeper than ever into the heart of science” (2228), it is quite possibly a reference to the racial sciences of Hawthorne’s day. In the context of the quotation, Aylmer is claiming that his attempts to remove her birthmark have led him “deeper than ever” into science. Similarly, scientists of Hawthorne’s day were lead “into the heart of science” in their attempts to justify white superiority in phrenology, physiognomy, and other sciences. Slightly later, the narrator remarks that Aylmer, in his youthful days, had “made discoveries…that had roused the admiration of all the learned societies in Europe” (2228), identifying Aylmer with the white, Anglo-Saxon European, considered the noblest and fittest of all human specimens. And in the following sentence, the narrator calls him the “pale philosopher,” drawing even more attention to his whiteness and his roots in a Western tradition of white males. The narrator also tells us that among other scientific pursuits, Aylmer “had explained the mystery of fountains, and how it is that they gush forth, some so bright and pure…from the dark bosom of the earth” (2228). The choice of wording “bright and pure” water spewing forth from the “dark bosom” of the earth is highly suggestive of reproduction. Moreover, the image of a white substance birthed from a dark body is indicative of Aylmer’s concern with Georgiana (who is marked by a racial “stain”) producing a white child. Finally, the narrator tells us that in addition to the previously mentioned scientific pursuits, Aylmer “had studied the wonders of the human frame” (2228). Aylmer’s interest in the human frame is undoubtedly a reference to nineteenth-century studies of the human body such as Camper’s From Ape to Apollo Belvedere.Aylmer’s scientific interest in the Elixir Vitae and his desire to prolong life is also suggestive of his desire to preserve and proliferate a white race. However, his reliance on science to prolong life proves to be problematic. As the narrator tells us, “[Aylmer] more than intimated, that it was his option to concoct a liquid that should prolong life for years – perhaps interminably – but that it would produce a discord in nature, which all the world, and chiefly the quaffer of the immortal nostrum, would find cause to curse” (2230). When Aylmer discovers the limits of reaching eternal life through science, he turns to the next best thing – a white woman who can reproduce his image. At the opening of the story, we are told that Aylmer “left his laboratory to the care of an assistant, cleared his fine countenance from the furnace-smoke, washed the stains of acids from his fingers, and persuaded a beautiful woman to become his wife” (2225). We do not know, at first, what inspired this relinquishing of science in exchange for marrying a beautiful woman. It is only when we learn that his studies in alchemy, specifically his interest in the Elixir Vitae, “would produce a discord in nature,” thereby foiling his project to prolong his own white, middle-class life, that we realize his real reason for leaving science. When the speaker in Shakespeare’s Sonnet #1 says: “From fairest creatures we desire increase/ That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,” he posits procreation as an alternative way to defy Time. Similarly, when science fails him, Aylmer looks to Georgiana to preserve his own image, and one that is most importantly, white.This claim is further supported by what the narrator tells us about Aylmer’s scientific journals. He says:But, to Georgiana, the most engrossing volume was a large folio from her husband’s own hand, in which he had recorded every experiment of his scientific career…The book, in truth, was both the history and emblem of his ardent, ambitious, imaginative, yet practical and laborious, life…Much as he had accomplished, she could not but observe that his most splendid successes were almost invariably failures, if compared with the ideal at which he aimed. (2232)Georgiana’s observation that his successes were “almost invariably failures” compared with his ideal points again to the limitations of science on his project. The “ideal at which he aimed,” is without question the prolonging of life. Despite the narrator’s remark that the book was “the history and emblem of his…life,” the pages of a book will invariably fade, just as his scientific attempts to prolong life indefinitely will invariably fail. Thus, Aylmer turns to the beautiful Georgiana, who can reproduce his image through her offspring.It is not until one day “very soon after their marriage” that Aylmer gazes at Georgiana’s birthmark, recognizing it as an obstacle to his design and producing a “trouble in his countenance” (2225). Calling it a “defect” and a “visible mark of earthly imperfection,” he realizes that the birthmark compromises Georgiana’s whiteness, and consequently, the whiteness of his future offspring. He is left with no choice but to return to science in an attempt to rid his wife of her mark that prevents her from being the perfect white woman.If Aylmer represents whiteness and scientists of racial biology, his racial counterpart in the story is his lowly servant, Aminadab. The first information given about him is that he is “a man of low stature, but bulky frame, with shaggy hair…which was grimed with the vapors of the furnace” (2228). Slightly later, the narrator comments, “With his vast strength, his shaggy hair, his smoky aspect, and the indescribable earthiness that incrusted him, he seemed to represent man’s physical nature, while Aylmer’s slender figure, and pale, intellectual face, were no less apt a type of the spiritual element” (2229). Several things are worthy of notice in the language of Aminadab’s description. First, his “low stature” places him in direct contrast to the white male standard of civilization, or Apollo Belvedere figure. Second, his “smoky aspect” suggests that his skin is of a dark hue (particularly when compared to Aylmer’s pale complexion), and casts him as a racialized figure in the story. Third, Aminadab’s physical features are placed in direct contrast (and an inferior position) to Aylmer’s “pale, intellectual face,” which enacts a hierarchy of whiteness over darkness. Finally, the narrator’s use of the word “type” evokes the attempts of nineteenth-century scientists to form racial types, or guidelines for distinguishing whites from other races.Scholarship that has attempted to analyze Aminadab – specifically his name – has been widely unsuccessful. Alfred Reid, W.R. Thompson, and Hugo McPherson contend that Hawthorne drew the name “Aminadab” from a biblical source (Rees 171), while Edward Van Winkle suggests that “Aminadab” is an anagram for “bad anima” or even for “bad in man.” While some of these critical studies on Aminadab’s origin reflect clever thought, only one is convincing enough to discuss here, and that is the suggestion that Hawthorne’s Aminadab bears significant resemblance to Caliban, from Shakespeare’s The Tempest. The similarities between the two characters have been suggested by Karl Wentersdorf, and summarized in an article by John Rees. Rees remarks:Both of these clod-creatures are darkly ugly, strong but stunted in growth, well-suited to their menial labors, and covertly critical of their masters; these masters in turn use ‘earth’ and kindred epithets to describe them both, and stress the predominance of animality and the physical in their common nature… (179)He goes on, saying “even Caliban’s lewd chuckling, when he remembers his attempt to rape Miranda (I.ii.349-51), seems a foreshadowing of Aminadab’s “gross hoarse chuckle” as he watches the sleeping Georgiana’s face and his imagining, ‘If she were my wife…'” (179). Finally, Rees observes that “Aminadab” repeats the vowel sequence of “Caliban,” in addition to two of its four consonants” (179).The comparison of Aminadab to Caliban is particularly useful because post-colonial literary critics have often read Caliban as a representative figure for the colonized, racialized “other.” The Tempest, published in 1611, was partly inspired by a letter to England written by William Stratchey, detailing the voyage of the Sea Venture. The ship’s crew, which set sail in 1609 in order to help colonize New England, encountered a storm and was stranded on the island of Bermuda, known as the “isle of devils” (Langbaum 92). Shakespeare’s Caliban, who is native to the island that Prospero usurps, is frequently understood to represent the subject of European colonialists, either as a native of Bermuda or a native American. Capitalizing on Caliban’s association with the colonized and racialized “other,” Hawthorne draws the reader’s attention to the resemblance in Aminadab in order to cast Aylmer as a white, colonizing male, and to reinforce the racial undercurrent of the story.The detail that most strongly links Caliban to Aminadab as a racialized “other” is his physical appearance. In the dramatis personae, Shakespeare describes him as “a savage and deformed slave” (Signet edition). First, the word “savage” evokes the imperial vocabulary that colonists would use to describe natives. Second, the word “deformed” suggests that his body is physically inferior. Stephano calls him “monster” (III, ii, 3), while Trinculo remarks that he looks and smells like a “fish” (II, ii, 25-27). In his characterization of Caliban, Shakespeare utilizes a type: the colonized native is made a slave, and described as dark and physically deformed. This idea of physical deformity as part of a type is strikingly similar to the racial types of nineteenth-century America. Shakespeare’s use of physical deformity to cast Caliban as a racial type is reborn in nineteenth-century studies in phrenology, craniology, and physiognomy, depicting non-whites as physically inferior to the Caucasian model of perfection. Shakespeare even addresses the issue of miscegenation when Caliban laments being unsuccessful in raping Prospero’s white daughter, Miranda: “O ho, O ho! Would’t had been done! / Thou didst prevent me; I had peopled else / This isle with Calibans” (I, ii, 349-351). Hawthorne picks up on the theme of miscegenation in his story when Aminadab reflects, “If she were my wife, I’d never part with that birth-mark” (2229).While we can never ascertain Hawthorne’s reasons for choosing the name “Aminadab” with absolute certainly, it is useful to explore its similarities to Caliban; both Aminadab and Caliban represent the racialized “other,” and are placed in opposition and submission to a superior, dominating white male who wishes to preserve his own legacy.Given the presence of a racial undercurrent in the story, the reader may wonder what Hawthorne’s attitude is towards these issues of race. On the most basic level, the story may be read as a rejection of white supremacist logic. Georgiana’s death proves the failure of Aylmer’s project, which is to continue the legacy of the white middle class. Not surprisingly, it is ultimately Georgiana’s whiteness that kills her, as Aylmer exclaims “But she is so pale!” immediately prior to her death. The death of the “now perfect woman” (2235) seems to suggest Hawthorne’s disapproval of Aylmer’s intentions, and of white supremacy in general. Furthermore, the “hoarse, chuckling laugh” that sounds from the lips of Aminadab at the moment of Georgiana’s death suggests that he, the inferior, non-white servant, is the true victor in the story.Despite Georgiana’s death at the end of the story, leaving Aylmer with no means of reproducing, Edgar Allan Poe writes, “the death…of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic in the world” (qtd. in Lauter, 1533). For Poe, the death of a beautiful woman creates a temporary void, or “deficit” of beauty (which, he notes, is “the sole legitimate province” of his work). That “deficit” must then be filled by the narrator, or indirectly, by the author himself. The death of a beautiful woman, then, is a kind of literary inspiration; the beauty of the dead woman is replaced by the author’s “beauty,” or narrative, often in the form of a speaker’s confession.”The Birth-Mark” operates under the same principle. Georgiana’s death serves as inspiration for the speaker’s narrative, and without her death, there would be no story to tell. While she cannot physically produce offspring, she can (in death) give birth to a narrative. Georgiana’s death results in the triumph of a white author, who advances his own legacy through narrative. First, Aylmer attempts to prolong life with the Elixir Vitae. Unsuccessful in those pursuits, he turns to Georgiana, a white woman, to prolong life through physical reproduction. Finally, when that fails, the author intervenes, prolonging his legacy on the white pages of books. Again, the speaker of Shakespeare’s Sonnets comes to mind, saying “So long as men can breathe or eyes can see / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee” (Sonnet 18). The word “this” is self-referential; while the addressee of the sonnets refuses to procreate and preserve his image, the speaker responds by saying that the youth’s image will be preserved in his poetry.Even this logic, however, is not as simple as it seems. Hawthorne encourages us to consider whether or not words can ever truly replace a human life. If so, then perhaps the white author wins out over all other factors. If not, though, then we must look further. What is left to readers today is the title of the story, “The Birth-Mark,” which also signifies the mark of racial color. What confounds our attempt to interpret Hawthorne’s attitude is the conflation of signifier and signified. On one hand, the title of the story (and consequently the legacy of whiteness) survives on the white pages of our books. On the other hand, however, the signified birthmark itself, a symbol of racial color, also survives by means of the title. Thus, we are confronted with the question, does the signified (the birthmark) trump the title (“The Birth-Mark”)? If so, are we then to read the story as a rejection of white racism?Considering all of these factors, I contend that the story is, in fact, a condemnation of white racism. As Smith points out, photography was vital to the preservation of the white middle class in the nineteenth century. However, photographs, like all memories, fade with time. Smith demonstrates this notion in a quotation from R.H.E.’s Godey’s Lady’s Book, written in April 1867:Somehow it gives me a desolate feeling to think of having my faded picture trundled about some hundred years hence as worthless lumber, or being tolerated as a thing of habit, rather than affection, in some out-of-the-way corner. Perhaps saucy children will some day stick pins through my eyes, and scratch my cheeks and nobody will be grieved or angered by it. (qtd. in Smith 51)R.H.E.’s anxiety about the fading of her portrait symbolizes the white middle class’ anxiety about the fading of its legacy, specifically through a process of weakening, brought about by miscegenation.Like photographs, pages, too, turn yellow and fade with time. The pages of a book are, like Georgiana, fallible, and existing original copies of “The Birth-Mark” surely illustrate the fallibility of the written word. Furthermore, only words have survived, not the characters themselves. This points to the fallacy in Poe’s statement about the death of a beautiful woman. Particularly in his use of refrain, Poe emphasizes the hollowness of the words on the page – words that are incapable of replacing a human life. Therefore, to claim that the legacy of whiteness is preserved in the pages of “The Birth-Mark” is to swear by a fleeting piece of evidence. Rather, “The Birth-Mark” professes that we should not attempt to rid our loved ones of their birthmarks, just as we should not attempt to rid our society of racial “otherness.” In order to produce offspring, Aylmer must accept Georgiana as she is, birthmark and all. If the birthmark represents non-white racial identity, then Hawthorne’s point is that if the human race is to continue, miscegenation is inevitable. Speaking to the racial biologists, ethnologists, and white middle class of his time, Hawthorne calls for them to relinquish notions of white supremacy, and embrace miscegenation as a necessary part of our survival. Aminadab, type-cast though he may be, is the most rational character in the story. And when his “hoarse, chuckling laugh” is heard at the end of the story, it is because he, indeed, has the last laugh. In giving Aminadab the last “word” (so to speak), Hawthorne ends the story with the legacy of the non-white character, rather than the middle-class white male.Hawthorne’s motive, however, is to transcend racial boundaries, not to reverse white supremacy. The birthmark is not only a symbol of racial color, as Aylmer reads it, but also a symbol of human mortality and imperfection. In the narrator’s words, it is “the fatal flaw of humanity,” and a mark that Nature stamps “on all her productions” (2226), regardless of race. Aylmer’s obsession with Georgiana’s birthmark represents nineteenth-century America’s obsession with using physical characteristics to define interior character. Smith frequently discusses the concept of the white masculine “gaze,” through which the white middle-class patriarchy affirmed its authority and racial superiority. She uses the term “white supremacist gaze,” coined by Bell Hook, “as a means of making explicit the ways in which the cultural privilege of looking has been racially coded in the United States” (258). In fact, the word “gaze” appears many times throughout Hawthorne’s text, as in the following examples: “Aylmer sat gazing at his wife” (2225), “Georgiana soon learned to shudder at his gaze” (2227), and “[Georgiana] slowly unclosed her eyes, and gazed into the mirror…” (2235). This fixation on the gaze – particularly its racial consequences – is precisely what Hawthorne seeks to diffuse. The blurred daguerreotype of Georgiana, in addition to representing Aylmer’s anxiety about a faithful “reproduction” of his whiteness, represents the unreliability of vision, and consequently, Hawthorne’s disapproval of racial prejudices based on physical appearance. Furthermore, it is Aylmer’s scrutinizing gaze that ultimately results in Georgiana’s death. Through the story, Hawthorne deemphasizes the importance of vision and physical appearance in judging interiority, and encourages his readers to transcend the boundaries of color and acknowledge the “birthmark” in every human being.According to one critical reading, Aylmer’s mistake is his conflation of the birthmark itself and his own way of seeing it. His attempt to remove the birthmark represents his desire to eliminate the range of possible meanings and establish his own meaning as the definitive one. In other words, Aylmer attempts to rid Georgiana of her “mark of inter-subjectivity” (Lukasik discussion). I would like to take this interpretation one step further and claim that the interpretation that Aylmer imposes on Georgiana’s birthmark (and the one that Hawthorne denounces) is a racial one. Aylmer’s error is not just his attempt to replace inter-subjectivity with his own interpretation, but more specifically, his attempt to impose a racialized reading on the birthmark. Lukasik suggests that Aylmer mistakes the object that is being seen (the birthmark) for his own way of seeing it. I contend that this confusion of ways of seeing and objects of vision is Hawthorne’s vehicle for commenting on nineteenth-century racism. Aylmer’s assumption that Georgiana’s birthmark represents a flaw is analogous to white assumptions that blackness signifies inferiority. In the same way that Aylmer imposes his own negative “reading” on a neutral object, nineteenth-century whites imposed racialized “readings” on blackness. Unencumbered by individual interpretations, both the birthmark and blackness possess “inter-subjectivity.” However, problems arise when individuals attempt to remove that quality of inter-subjectivity, as in the rhetoric of white racism.Hawthorne’s story, while about man’s attempt to overpower God, is equally a story about racial prejudice in nineteenth-century America. Aylmer’s disgust at Georgiana’s birthmark represents white attitudes towards racial “otherness,” and his desire to remove it before procreating represents the white fear of miscegenation. Ultimately, through Georgiana’s death at the end of the story, Hawthorne denounces white supremacy and scientific studies in racial biology in the nineteenth century, calling for his readers to transcend the boundaries of racial types.Works Cited1. Hales, Peter B. Silver Cities: The Photography of American Urbanization, 1839-1915. Temple U Press. Philadelphia: 19842. Langbaum, Robert, ed. The Tempest, by William Shakespeare. Signet edition. New York: 19983. Lauter, Paul, ed. The Heath Anthology of American Literature, Volume One. Houghton Mifflin Company. Boston: 19984. Lukasik, Christopher. “The Birth-Mark.” Class lecture. EN 533. Boston U. November 6, 20035. McPherson, Hugo. Hawthorne as Myth-Maker: A Study in Imagination (p. 222). U of Toronto Press. Toronto: 19696. Otter, Samuel. Melville’s Anatomies. U of California Press. Berkeley: 19997. Rees, John O. “Aminadab in ‘The Birth-Mark’: The Name Again.” Journal of Onomastics. Sept. 1980; 28(3): 171-1828. Reid, Alfred S. “Hawthorne’s Humanism: ‘The Birth-Mark’ and Sir Kenelm Digby.” American Literature, November 1966; 38: 337-519. Smith, Shawn Michelle. American Archives: Gender, Race, and Class in Visual Culture. Princeton U Press. Princeton: 199910. Thompson, W.R. “Aminadab in Hawthorne’s ‘The Birth-Mark.” Modern Language Notes. June 1955; 70: 413-1511. Van Vinkle, Edward S. “Aminadab, the Unwitting ‘Bad Anima'”. American Notes and Queries. 1970; 8: 131-33