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Hawthorne Essay, Research Paper

Within this outline, as it stands at the moment, the hippie is seen as the seeker of peace, love, and joy. He is not hung up. Freed from materialism, from the past, from traditions, institutions, inherited customs, values, and restraints, he is open to the flow of experience. Acceptance of the body frees his senses for the apprehension of beauty beauty. He rejects Christianity, my student tells me, but sees some possibilities in Buddhism. Christianity, one assumes, is associated too strongly with war, acquisitiveness, and asceticism. Behind the whole complex is a large unstated and unexamined assumption. But examining assumptions is a part of the rationalism and traditionalism the hippie rejects. The assumption is that man does not grow into peace, love, and joy through study, contemplation, discipline, self-restraint. They are his natural inheritance. He is not a bucket to be filled, laboriously, with goodness by church, family, society. Rather, he is a spring in which goodness and happiness bubble up unless clogged or polluted by ancient impurities.

The square is an even more familiar figure. If, as my student tells me, he has always run America (but not run it well), he should be familiar. He is a churchgoer, but if there.are peace, love, or joy in Christianity the square misses them. His Christianity is selective, yielding him righteousness and respectability, but not forbidding those things to which he is attracted. He is attracted to wealth, power, competition. He approves of war as group competition at its most intense. He stresses sobriety and distrusts the senses. But relation of cause and effect is not clear. Perhaps he rejects beauty and joy because they interfere with business efficiency; perhaps he is driven to efficiency and aggression by his lack of beauty and joy .

My student offers little help on the sources of his ideas. When I ask him, he says, ”I’ve just been rapping in the dorms.” But if ultimately his types go back to whoever first set out to distinguish the contemplative from the active life, it is not too difficult to trace them more immediately to such sources as McLuhan, Marcuse, and Norman O. Brown. If my student has just been rapping, someone in the dorm has been reading. It is almost a critical cliche now to see the whole complex of thought my student represents as part of a ”New Romanticism” descended from the earlier Romantics, particularly Blake. In America it goes back farther than the Romantics and its history is more continuous. The aspiration, the longing, my student shares is a part of the American Dream: und however sour that dream may turn at times it is a real part of American thought and feeling, perhaps most present when it is most denied. So many would not, from the start, have seen our cquntry as a nightmare if they had not unconsciously expected it to be a pleasant dream.

At this point I am tempted to trace that tradition in a long digression, but the digression might grow to book length. One can see the Pilgrims as drop-outs from, and the Puritans as rebels against, an ecclesiastical Establishment that stood too much between individual men and women and their God, an Establishment that had grown hypocritical and mechanical. One could point out the extent to which Puritan traits are still visible in our hippies.1 One could move on to the intuitional and libertarian rebellion of Ann Hutchinson (”the sainted Ann Hutchinson” Hawthorne calls her in The Scarlet Letter) and Roger Williams against the orthodoxy the Puritan rebels established, and then to the Transcendentalist revolt. How near Emerson was to our day, scholars who translate his philosophical terms into the terms of modern psychology are only now finding out.2 One could add Walt Whitman, hero of the ‘Beats ” who preceded the hippies; Melville’s picture of mixed piety and greed in Captains Peleg and Bildad; Twain’s view of society from the underside in Huckleberry Finn; James’s portraits of the square in the Newsomes and Pococks of The Ambassadors, and the pictures Lewis gives us in Main Street and Babbitt. Speaking of Lewis, as one reads the writers of the 1920s now, it is surprising how close their mood is to that of the hippies.3 But in an essay on Hawthorne, longer digression would be intolerable. Let it suffice that if the square has dominated American life he has fared badly in serious American literature, and that even Ben Franklin was less square than D. H. Lawrence has painted him.

Hawthorne is our most instructive illustration of continuity. In his dissatisfactions, in his vision of the good life and the good society, in his analysis of psychological and social forces that contribute to or block the good life or the good society, he is often strikingly similar to disaffected youth of 1970. Perhaps in his points of difference with that youth he is also instructive. He deals more thoughtfully than any other American writer save possibly Melville with the issues raised (but usually not answered) by the hippie ethic: the individual and society, freedom and responsibility, emotion and reason, law and love.

The issue of peace to begin with the usual starting point of the hippie was, until the Civil War, less pressing in Hawthorne’s time than in ours. But note that Emerson and Thoreau worked out early in their careers justification for withdrawal from active politics to make possible contemplation and growth of the soul. (Emerson’s “Ode, Inscribed to W. H. Channing” is one of many statements of that justification.) Yet both abandoned their position to passionately defend John Brown.4 They became, as it were, activists rather than hippies, and activists in a dubious cause. Hawthorne neither withdrew frpm politics when young nor threw himself passionately into them when old. He abhorred equally the violence of slavery and the anti-slavery violence of John Brown. His lack of enthusiasm for the Civil War was such that the Atlantic was doubtful about accepting his last sketches. As we look back now on how much the Civil War cost and how much it failed to accomplish we may see some virtue in his position.

At the center of Hawthorne’s thought and feeling is the paradox that each person is sacred and must be free, and that at the same time he is incomplete and must have society and love for his completion. Q. D. Leavis is right in saying that the relation of the individual to society is his special theme, and R. W. B. Lewis is right in adding that he is particularly qualified to deal with the theme because he can sympathize with both.5 In this balancing of claims he is more modern than the Transcendentalists, who, for all their essays on love and friendship, placed almost unlimited reliance on the individual soul.

The case for individual freedom and dignity is made by Dimmesdale, of The Scarlet Letter. His sin and Hester’s he says is not so great as that of Chillingworth: “He has violated, in cold blood, the sanctity of the human heart.”6 All of Hawthorne’s chief sinners are men who in pride of position, wealth, or intellect violate that sanctity: Chillingworth, Rappaccini, Ethan Brand, Hollingsworth, Colonel Pyncheon and Judge Jaffrey Pyncheon. Societies, as well as individuals, may be guilty. Witness the Puritan villages of “The Gentle Boy” and The Scarlet Letter. “The action of the novel springs,” says Lewis of The Scarlet Letter, ”from the enormous but improbable suggestion that the society’s estimate of the moral structure of the universe may be tested and found inaccurate.”7

The need for the opposite pole of love and community Hawthorne came to through his own loneliness and his desire to escape from it, to “establish an intercourse with the world.” The ”haunted chamber” in which he felt himself imprisoned until Sophia Peabody and a political appointment drew him out has been a commonplace of Hawthorne biography and criticism. Reacting from such isolation, he filled his notebooks with observations on the common life about him. It is probably not by sheer chance that while others supported Brook Farm from outside, he alone of major figures of his time risked his savings and seven months of his life in that experimental community. But it was Sophia whom he hailed, again and again, in letters and notebooks, as his deliverer. What she saved him from he called “unreality.” Gifted with unusual power to see through the superficial and the false, he was, as he realized, all too prone to see as illusion what most men take for reality, to find no value in things others value. Only in close ties with others could he find the emotional vitality that makes life meaningful. When he first parted with Sophia after his marriage for a brief return to his mother’s home he noted the difference Sophia had made. ”But how changed was I! at last I had caught hold of a reality, which never could be taken from me.”8 Again he wrote to her, ”I should be only a shadow of the night; it is you that give me reality, and make all things real for me.”9 Of Phoebe, of The House of the Seven Gables, he exclaimed: “She was real! Holding her hand, you felt something; a substance, and a warm one; and so long as you should feel its grasp, soft as it was, you might be certain that your place was good in the whole sympathetic chain of human nature. The world was no longer a delusion” (327). The reference to holding Phoebe’s hand, ”a substance, and a warm one,” is a reminder that, in terms of a distinction he was fond of making, Hawthorne loved with his heart, not only with his head. Sophia’s later attempts to blot such words as ”bedfellow” from his notebooks failed, and — lest younger readers should be confused by the nineteenth-century propriety of his words —it is clear that the body was involved. For all his withdrawal and reticence, he had spontaneous emotional warmth that separates him from the abstracting tendencies of the Transcendentalists and links him to the dissenters of our day. ”Unless you love someone nothing else makes sense” says a poster for sale in college bookstores. Hawthorne would have agreed.

Hawthorne’s age was like ours again in its concern with the question of the meaning of time, and of how one responds to time. Lewis follows Emerson in conveniently dividing writers of the period into ”The Party of Hope” and ”The Party of Memory.” For Hawthorne and Melville he creates a new class, ”The Party of Irony.” The classification is brilliant, but misses a facet of Hawthorne’s mind. Though such works as The House of the Seven Gables show that he knew that the past lives on in the present, he shared the general Romantic desire to escape from always looking before and after. He even used the favorite term of our youth. When he was with Sophia, he said, ”Then I feel that there is a Now, and that Now must be always calm and happy.”10 Rummaging through the library of the Old Manse he found himself musing ”the fact that the works of man’s intellect decay like those of his hands. Thought grows mouldy. What was good and nourishing food for the spirits of one generation affords no sustenance for the next.”11 He gives to Holgrave, Clifford, and Uncle Venner attacks upon the tyranny of the past, upon inherited institutions, ideas, and property, rivalling those expressed by Emerson in ”Nature.” The Past, says Holgrave, is Death, and death controls our property, rules our courts, gives forms to our worship of living Deity. We live in dead men’s houses, built as foundations for perpetuating our families. But the houses should be burnt, and the families ”once in every half-century, at longest, should be merged into the great, obscure mass of humanity” (pp 352-54). That the older, happier, and wealthier Holgrave reverses himself proves only that Hawthorne belongs to the Party of Irony, not that he had himself repudiated the view. The fall of once proud and wealthy families into decay is presented so often and approvingly in the American Notebooks that Stewart treats it as one of Hawthorne’s major themes.12 A chapter in Our Old Home, his last book published during his lile, ends with the contrast between the mass marriage of a crowd ol Manchester poor and the marriage of two of Manchester’s wealthiest. One parson and one service had amalgamated the wretchedness of scores of paupers; a Bishop and three or four clergymen had combined their spiritual might to forge the golden links of this other marriage-bond.” The poor returned to their hovels, while the wealthy pair returned to a “fair property” which “seemed more exclusively and inalienably their own, because of its descent through many forefathers.” But Hawthorne continued, ‘And is it possible, after all, that there may be a flaw in the title-deeds? Is, or is not, the system wrong that gives one married pair so immense a superfluity of luxurious home, and shuts out a million others from any home whatever?” That question, he concluded, “the gentlemen of England” must some day answer.13

Hawthorne feared the dominance of the past, then, both because it blocks unselfconscious joy in the present, and because it perpetuates injustice and suffering. In his sympathy with all who suffer, in the quality that would now be called compassion, is another link to the hippie. Certainly he felt compassion with an intensity less sensitive and imaginative men, of his time or ours, cannot match. Perhaps too his religious faith, which our age has largely lost, enabled him to feel more strongly for the welfare of others. For Hawthorne had more at stake. He linked inequality and injustice to the question of immortality. Viewing the slum children of Manchester he speculated: “It might almost make a man doubt the existence of his own soul to observe how Nature has flung these little wretches into the street and left them there, so evidently regarding them as nothing worth, and how all mankind acquiesce in the great mother’s estimate of her offspring. For, if they are to have no immortality, what superior claim can I assert for mine?”

It is the intensity of his feeling, I believe, that builds the marked rhythms of his sentences as he continues. First he sees the children of Victorian poverty as the “hideous bugs and many-footed worms” he found under logs as a boy, but soon the image changes to that of the body beneath dark water so frequently found in his novels:14 “Ah, what a mystery! Slowly, slowly, as after groping at the bottom of a deep noisome, stagnant pool, my hope struggles up vard to the surface, bearing the halfdrowned body of a child along with it, and heaving it aloft for its life, and my own life, and all our lives. Unless these slime-clogged nostrils can be made capable of inhaling celestial air, I know not how the purest and most intellectual of us can reasonably hope to taste a breath of it. The whole question of eternity is staked there. If a single one of these helpless little ones be lost, the world is lost.”15 The same theme is continued in Hawthorne”s visit to the children’s ward of a workhouse, where a “sickly, wretched, humor-eaten infant, the offspring of unspeakable sin and sorrow” held up its arms to him. Hawthorne lifted the child and comforted it, explaining, “No doubt, the child’s mission in reference to our friend was to remind him that he was responsible, in his degree, for all the suffering and misdemeanors of the world in which he lived, and was not entitled to look upon a particle of its dark calamity as if it were none of his concern.”16 It is typical that he should have disguised himself through the use of the third person. His English Notebooks, not originally intended for publication, reveal “our friend’s” true identity. But more important is the feeling of responsibility for the child. Hawthorne goes beyond ”compassion” into what Howells (who must certainly have been helped in discovering the theme through his reading of Hawthorne) called “complicity.” Stephen Crane, in turn, was to borrow the word and the theme from Howells and give them one of their finest expressions in “The Blue Hotel.”

With the sense of complicity goes an attack on the proud, insensitive, and successful, who are seen as denying their part in sin and suffering. Hawthorne, like the hippies, saw such qualities as related and as characterizing a group, the group now called the Establishment. It is clear in The Scarlet [ester that the judges who judge Hester are unfit to judge. "Young Goodman Brown" carries the suggestion further with its vision of corruption in deacon, magistrate, and priest. In The House of the Seven Gables Hawthorne states directly in his own person what "Young Goodman Brown" so ambiguously suggests: "Since there must be evil in the world . . . a high man is as likely to grasp his share of it, as a low one" (p. 322). Although he here as always qualifies by noting that all share in evil, the novel shows it particularly among the wealthy, powerful, and respectable. His sympathetic characters are, like Huckleberry Finn, from the bottom of society. Like Twain, or the hippies, or Bret Harte but without his sentimentality, he gives us a reverse view of society, seen from the bottom and with a preponderance of virtue at the bottom and evil at the top.

Symptomatic of the degree of social corruption are false official images and a general inability to recognize evil in high places. As the hippies would say, you can't trust the media. Only the innocent Phoebe, the recluse Hepzibah, the jail-bird Clifford; and the speculative radical Holgrave see the real Judge Pyncheon. All others are so caught up in the material values he represents that, consciously at least, they accept the face he presents to the public. In an impressively developed passage Hawthorne compares the public image of Judge Pyncheon to a stately palace. But, he continues, "in some low and obscure nook, some narrow closet on the ground floor, shut, locked, and bolted, and the key flung away or beneath the marble pavement in a stagnant water-puddle, with the richest pattern of mosaic work above it may lie a corpse, halfdecayed and still decaying, and diffusing its death-scent all through the palace." Familiarity will make the "inhabitants" miss the scent; for "visitors" it will be covered by the "rich odors" scattered through the house. But to the "seer" the palace will "melt into thin air, leaving only the little nook, the bolted closet" (pp. 380-81).

The palace and its rich odors are the Judge's distinguished career and his ostentatious good deeds, all adding up to a man of "high respecta- bility," as Hawthorne notes at his first appearance and stresses at every opportunity thereafter. Both the career and the good deeds Hawthorne develops at length, but it is more to our purpose here to quote Hyatt Waggoner's translation of Judge Pyncheon's image into contemporary terms.

If Hawthorne were writing the book today, he would have to make him a suburban Republican active in the Chamber of Commerce, opposed to fair housing laws because they endanger the rights of property, a member of a country club that excludes almost everyone, willing chairman when his turn comes of the United Fund or Community Chest drive, a trustee of a hospital and a college, a man who despite all his good works is known as a realist with his feet on the ground who can be trusted never to be taken in by baseless idealism, or any other "isms," a staunch defender of the American way of life, and a senior warden of a wealthy Episcopal parish.17

Since the official views of the Establishment control men's minds, there is little hope for justice through established institutions. Hepzibah knows that the truly insane man is Judge Pyncheon. Yet when the Judge threatens to accuse Clifford of insanity unless he reveals the title to the northern lands, she knows better than to call for help: "But how wild, how almost laughable the fatality, and yet how continually it comes to pass, thought Hepzibah, in this dull delirium of a world, that whosoever, and with however kindly a purpose, should come to help, they would be sure to help the strongest side!" (p. 389). In Hawthorne, as in Huckleberrv Finn, if justice triumphs in the end it is not because of but in spite of the official institutions of justice; justice is supplied by Providence, or by the author's manipulation.

Yet for all the "darkness" Melville celebrated in Hawthorne, he was never the complete pessimist. If he insisted on evil in all men he also insisted on the good in nearly all. If the masses' heads are addled, there is a residium of virtue in their hearts; when they judge with their hearts, as he tells us in The Scarlet Letter, they judge correctly. Though the Judge and his Puritan ancestor the Colonel are praised in sermons, on gravestones, and in written history, Hawthorne observes the "vast discrepancy" between "these cold, formal, and empty words of the chisel that inscribes, the voice that speaks, and the pen that writes for the public eye and for distant time" and "the pencil sketches that pass from hand to hand, behind the original's back" (p. 316). Melville was to develop the same theme in Billy Budd. Billy is recorded in official Naval records as an example of "extreme depravity," but in the living tradition of enlisted sailors a chip from the spar from which he was hanged is cherished as "a piece of the Cross." Holgrave's camera too, using honest sunlight as its medium of portraiture, sees the true Jaffrey Pyncheon. The implication should please our hippies nature is in sympathy with truth and with the lowly.

Judge Pyncheon is a "capatalist," as Hawthorne keeps reminding us. The term was new in Hawthorne's time and Hawthorne is concerned with showing us a man of his own time. Yet he is equally concerned with showing the Judge as a current version of a continuing type, a surface modidcation of his Puritan ancestor to ft modern conditions, but with the resemblance of his photo to the Colonel's portrait revealing the true continuity. In his account of that adaptation, Hawthorne touches notes which are "modern" not only for 1850 but for 1970. The Judge is a hypocrite of a special form, unknown to his more frankly aristocratic ancestors. To hold power in a democratic society he must pretend an equality he does not believe; he must bend lower in proportion as he feels himself above the man he meets, and put on a smile that, as Hawthorne remarks in the best tall-tale tradition, would ripen grapes. He is a manipulator of the democratic process, "skilled to adjust those preliminary measures, which steal from the people, without its knowledge, the power of choosing its own rulers" (p. 407). Yet Hawthorne is penetrating enough to know that such a man is not a conscious hypocrite. Rather, he is "unfortunately situated, seldom or never looking inward, and resolutely taking his idea of himself from what purports to be his image." Such men are untroubled by conscience "unless it might be for the little space of five minutes in the twenty-four hours" (pp. 380-82).

On those qualities that in part contribute toward success and in part result from it, Hawthorne again anticipates more recent social critics. The Puritan Colonel who founded the Pyncheon line in America was "endowed with common-sense, as massive and hard as blocks of granite, fastened together by stern rigidity of purpose, as with iron clamps" (p. 247). In other Puritan portraits and in his pictures of current worldly success Hawthorne stressed images of iron, granite, rigidity. He stressed, as James, Sherwood Anderson and others were to stress, the loss that goes with achieving, the high price paid for the favors of the Bitch Goddess. An unbalance, an overdevelopment of some aspects of personality and underdevelopment of others, results in character that Hawthorne could usually pity while he condemned. Of Judge Pyncheon he exclaimed, 'Surely, it must have been at no slight cost, that he had thus fortified his soul with iron!'' (p. 386). A part of the loss is lack of self-knowledge, an inability to look inward. Another is the "hard texture of the sensibilities," what the young of 1970 would call lack of sensitivity. The emphasis on "common-sense" and business, together with hostility to art and beauty, gives a narrow focus that aids efficiency, but certainly at the cost of love, perception, and joy. Such men collect ''splendid rubbish" and ''big, heavy, solid unrealities," but as James's Strether would say, they live less.

In the Hawthorne value system the loss of love, particularly domestic love, is crucial. The Puritan Colonel, we are told, "had worn out three wives . . . merely by the remorseless weight and hardness of his character.'' The Judge had lost his wife early in marriage, and according to ''fable'' or folk rumor she had died heart-broken. Is it speculating too wildly to see Hawthorne as approaching the analysis, common to our time, that sees acquisitiveness and aggressiveness allied to an exaggerated and false concept of the male role'? The Colonel, he tells us, ''had clothed himself in a grim assumption of kindliness, a rough heartiness of word and manner, which most people took to be the genuine warmth of nature, making its way through the thick and inflexible hide of a manly character" (p. 316). I have added emphasis. To see Hawthorne as a defender of joy, lamenting its absence among the squares of his day, may seem paradoxical to those accustomed to stressing his "darkness." But to some extent the emphasis on gloom in Hawthorne is the result of recent critical fashion.18 As he repeatedly explained, the gloom of his stories was not the product of his will. He repeatedly promised his publisher, Fields, "a more genial book," or a "sunshiny" one, but he added, "the Devil himself seems to get into my inkstand." The novels he wanted to write would have resembled Trollope's.19 His notebooks record his longing for brightness. Though his American Notes show him falling in with a surprising number of funeral processions they also show him enjoying such bright spots as a girl met on his travels: "If she were larger than she is, and of less pleasing aspect, I think she might be intolerable; but being so small, and with a white skin, healthy as a wild flower, she is really very agreeable; and to look at her face is like being shone upon by a ray of the sun."20 His first reaction to an English almshouse was ''that the sense of beauty was insuffciently regarded in all the arrangements."21 In The House of the Seven Gables, Clifford (a true flower child) blows soap bubbles from an arched upper window. Hawthorne's account of the reactions of those on whom they fall shows his sympathy with beauty, imagination, the spirit of play: "It was curious to see how the passers-by regarded these brilliant fantasies, as they came floating down, and made the dull atmosphere imaginative about them. Some stopt to gaze, and perhaps carried a pleasant recollection of the bubbles onward, as far as the street-corner; some looked angrily upward, as if poor Clifford wronged them, by setting an image of beauty so near their dusty pathway. A great many put out their fingers, or their walking-sticks, to touch withal, and were perversely gratified, no doubt, when the bubble, with all its pictured earth and sky-scene, vanished as if it had never been" (p. 346).

Hawthorne even anticipates our hippies (and D. H. Lawrence and other critics of the twenties) in suspecting that modern times more than earlier times and America more than other nations are hostile to joy and beauty. A sense of loss of color, gaiety, ancient customs and rituals runs through The Scarlet Letter. Hawthorne feared that in the new world and the new day even physical vigor might be declining: "for throughout that chain of ancestry [since the Puritan migration] every successive mother has transmitted to her child a fainter bloom, a more delicate and briefer beauty, and a slighter physical frame” (p. 114). “Refinement” may have been gained, but Hawthorne, as always, notes the price. But “The Maypole of Merrymount” is the chief case in point. It is largely on this story that Q. D. Leavis has advanced her thesis that the gains and losses involved in transmitting culture from England to America form one of Hawthorne’s major concerns.

Hawthorne calls the story a ‘’sort of allegory” dealing with an episode in which “jollity and gloom were contending for an empire.” Leavis has commented on the care and artistic brilliance with which he balances accounts, including modifications in the true history of Merrymount in order to make that colony fully representative of “the immemorial culture of the English folk with its Catholic and ultimately pagan roots, preserved in song and dance, festivals and superstitions, and especially the rites and dramatic practices of which the May-Day ceremonies were the key.”22 She concludes that Hawthorne saw it as a ”disaster for New England” that the traditions of Merrymount and of the Puritans could not be reconciled. My student ends his paper on a similar note that the hope of America lies in uniting the hippie and the square.

Certainly the opening of the story shows the hippie and the square as the hippie views them. Though there is a subtle shift during the course of the story, sympathy remains divided. If the revellers of Merrymount win, Hawthorne tells us, they will “pour sunshine over New England’s rugged hills, and scatter flower seeds throughout the veil.” The Puritans, who ”unfortunately” are in the same land, are “most dismal wretches.” Hawthorne presents them through the familiar images of iron, granite, darkness, black shadows. It is they, not the triflers of Merrymount, whom Hawthorne accuses of “superstition.” Their whipping post, he tells us, ”might be termed the Puritan maypole,” and the institution of which they are most proud, as showing their “well ordered settlements,” is the stocks. They are given, in short, the combination of solemnity, piety, avariciousness, and disciplined violence which our hippies see as ultimate square vices ”Their weapons are always at hand to shoot down the straggling savage.” They meet not ‘`to keep up the old English mirth” but to hear three-hour sermons ”or to proclaim bounties on the heads of wolves and the scalps of Indians.” In a final assault on beauty and individual freedom, Endicott orders that the “long glossy curls” of the May Lord be cut “in the true pumpkin-shell fashion.” The indictment is thorough; the sense of loss in what he has made Merrymount represent is real. In the terms used now by such theologians as Harvey Cox, Hawthorne deplored the absence of “festival” in American life. He never, in this story or elsewhere, repudiated those things the hippie longs for. He did differ with the hippie in his analysis of conditions under which they may be attainable, and in his sense of human limitations.

First, he knew that all men are defective. ”Earth’s Holocaust” is his most striking statement of the theme, but every story and novel is based on that premise. Those who ignore human imperfection in their planning become, like Aylmer of “The Birthmark,” destroyers rather than creators. From his knowledge of universal depravity came and not as paradoxically as it may seem a humility and a sense of social solidarity too often lacking in our young critics of society. The society with which he was concerned was a wider society. As we have noted, his people are often ‘’saved” through love for one other person. The heart is touched by love, bringing warmth, or ”reality.” But the saved one does not then withdraw with his loved one in a society of the elect; he does not join a Brook Farm or a commune. He returns to the larger society, to what Lewis calls “the tribe.” He is defective and incomplete-as it is defective and incomplete; he needs it as it needs him. Thus love unites Phoebe and Holgrave, but also serves the larger social purpose of uniting two warring families, displacing hate by love and “cleansing” a cursed house. Love for Clifford brings Hepzibah out of destructive pride and isolation into intercourse with the world. Hester is saved at the end not by the “consecration of its own” she once thought blessed her union with Dimmesdale, not by escape into the trackless forest or to the Old World, but by returning to serve the people of her village. Pearl offers the clearest example. The belated courage, honesty, and love of Dimmesdale in the final scaffold scene effect her saving miracle. Learning to love her father she learns also to love mankind and becomes a part of the magic circle or magnetic chain of humanity: ”Pearl kissed his lips. A spell was broken. The great scene of grief in which the wild infant bore a part, had developed all her sympathies; and as her tears fell upon her lather’s cheek, they were a pledge that she would grow up amid human joy and sorrow, nor forever do battle with the world, but be a woman in it” (p. 236).

The scene of Pearl’s conversion (I think we must call it that) suggests another distinction between Hawthorne and the hippie. He had a different view of joy’ a different view of the relation between joy and sorrow, a different view of the part love plays in both joy and sorrow.

Note the linking of “joy and sorrow” in the passage. Sorrow accompanies joy in almost every reference Hawthorne makes. To Longfellow he wrote in the days of his isolation in the haunted chamber in Salem, “I can assure you that trouble is the next best thing to enjoyment, and that there is no fate in this world so horrible as to have no share in either its joys or sorrows.”23 Not suffering, but existing untouched, unawakened, is the true loss of life. Sorrow is an unavoidable part of life, but a repeated pattern in Hawthorne’s fiction suggests that it may be a constructive part. Hepzibah, we are told, has ”been enriched by poverty, developed by sorrow, elevated by the strong and solitary affection of her life.” Phoebe half regrets that she is less ”merry” then before she knew Hepzibah and Clifford and shared their troubles, but trusts that she is wiser” than before. Holgrave assures her that it is wrong to mourn for ”the first, careless, shallow gaiety of youth.” For in its place can come, if one loves, a “profound happiness at youth regained, -so much deeper and richer than that we lost” (pp. 371-72). It is a scene of grief that develops Pearl’s sympathies. Without sympathy, in turn, there can be no escape from self, no reaching out to love and through it to joy. Love, Hawthorne would agree with the hippie, is the route to Joy. But he saw that it also has a logical connection to sorrow. Of the Lord and Lady of May, in “The Maypole of Merrymount,” he observed, “From the moment that they truly loved, they had subjected themselves to earth’s doom of care and sorrow, and had no more a home at MerryMount” (p. 85). Love binds us to others, and thus to sharing in their sorrows as well as their joys. It commits us to life, to warm awareness and vulnerability.

There are, then, different kinds of happiness; one label will not cover all. Hawthorne, who chose his words carefully, used “joy” only once in “The Maypole of Merrymount,” and then rel’erred to ”a troubled joy.” For the rest, the key words are “glee,” ”mirth,” “gay,” ”jollity.” Mirth, gaiety, jollity belong to the “silken” people of Merrymount, and before the end of the story they are forced and artificial, masks of “gay despair,” even among them. We are told of the people of Merrymount, “Once, it is said, they were seen following a flower-decked corpse, with merriment and festive movement to the grave. But did the dead man laugh?” (p.86). In their treatment of death they tried to ignore a truth that Hawthorne could never forget, and which he suggests we should not ignore. It is a part of the falsity of Judge Pyncheon that he tried to ignore it’ crowding his life with material gain and public honors, and fmally dying with his watch before him and his mind filled with speculation on further gains to be made in the fiteen, twenty “yes, perhaps fve and twenty” years he hoped lay before him. My freshman student quotes, as the perfect expression of hippie belief, this couplet:

The Creator has a master plan Peace and joy throughout the land.

Hawthorne, in addition to objecting to the false rhyme, would have added qualifications. For the awakened person he saw a “troubled joy,” including knowledge of sorrow, of death, of sin in which somehow we all bear complicity, and with both joy and trouble intensifed by love, linking us to others who share in the human condition.

With such distinctions, we can hardly call Hawthorne a true and complete hippie. Neither can we deny that he shared the hippies’ aversions and the most essential of their desires. We can see him as relevant the word is useful if overworked even to the hippie generation. To do so we need those qualities in which he was strongest: humility to accept as equals and as like ourselves people of all classes, ages, and times, and historical imagination to see essential likeness of one time to another beneath their superficial differences.


1 A recent immigrant, with the fresh perspective of the newcomer, has been struck with how clearly the hippie is a part of older American tradition. Only in America, he points out, do youth who turn to free love, perversions, and drugs feel the need to turn them into virtues by linking them to the cause of peace. Like Cotton Mather, they must convince themselves that they are doing good before they can act. See Leopold Tyrmand, “Reflections: Notebook of a Dilettante,” New Yorker, November 6, 1968, p. 72.

2 See William E Bridges, “Transcendentalism and Psychotherapy: Another Look at Emerson,” American Literature, XLI (1969), 157-77.

3 Frederick J. Hoffman sketches that mood in chapter 1, ‘ The Temper of the Twenties,” in The Twenties (New York, 1962).

4 Thomas Woodson comments (unfavorably) on Thoreau’s change of principles m “Thoreau on Poverty and Magnanimity,” PMLA, LXXXI (1970). 21-34.

5 Q. D. Leavis, ”Hawthorne as Poet,” in Interpretarions of American Literature, ed.

Charles Feidelson, Jr. and Paul Brodtkorb. Jr. (New York, 1959), p. 32; R. W. B. Lewis, The American Adam (Chicago, 1955), p. 111.

6 The Complete Novels and Selected Tales of Nathaniel Hawthorne, ed. Norman Holmes Pearson (New York, 1937), p. 200. All quotations from the novels and stories are from this edition. Page numbers will hereafter be given in parentheses in the text.

7 Lewis,p. 112.

8 American Notebooks, ed. Randall Stewart (New Haven, 1932), p. 174.

9 Julian Hawthorne, Hawthorne and His Wife(Boston, 1888), p. 238. 10 American Notebooks, pp. 203-4.

I I Mossesfrom an Old Manse (Philadelphia, 1891), p. 20.

12 Pp. Ixxvi-lxxix.

13 In Hawthorne in Eng/and, ed. Cushing Strout (Ithaca, 1965), pp. 230-33.

14 See my essay, “The Body in Hawthorne’s Fountain,” Papers of the Michigan Academy of Science, Arts, and Letters, Ll l (1967), 383-89.

I 5 Hawthorne in England, pp. 207-8.

16 Ibid., p. 2S8.

17 The House of the Seven Gables, ed. Hyatt H. Waggoner (Boston, 1964), pp. xi-xii.

18 See Howard Mumford Jones’s comment: “The American wing of the literary museum was virtually unvisited until rumor went round that Melville and Hawthorne were seen there conversing with the devil.” The Bright Medusa (Urbane, 1952), p. 2.

19 F. Matthiessen, American Renaissance (New York, 1941), pp. 234-35.

20 American Notebooks, p. 82.

21 Hawthorne in England, p. 223.

22 Interpretations of American Literature, p. 35

23 Matthiessen, p. 227.


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