Essay on Gender in Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance

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Gender in Hawthorne’s Blithedale Romance 

 

The Blithedale Romance, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is a story of a twisted utopia. This perfect world is twisted in that the roles of gender have a traditional utopian representation, only with a more contemporary take. Of course, this is interesting because this book was written and published in the 19th century when such ideas were beginning to establish a form for the genre of writing. Hawthorne combines fantasy, philosophy, mystery, gothic, and even [what would be called today] science fiction. This novel illustrates the early break from even fresh ideas. The writing style allows for the "genderizing degenderizing" affect as well as nature of the self.

 
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The males within the novel always seemed to be placing their skills and knowledge above the women's own. Characters such as Coverdale and Hollingsworth placed their own thoughts above those of the female characters almost anytime that they could. The women, oddly, seemed to show diverse roles. Subtly, this is a representation of women as more complex than men in general. One of the characters, Zenobia, is probably the most least genderized character of the novel, that is, until the end. Throughout most of the novel, she is seen as very masculine (in comparison to traditional roles that is) yet very feminine at the same time. She has a mystical illusion about her yet seems very sensible in the ways of life. However, by the end of the novel, Hawthorne writes her character to be very manipulative and weak, for she dies of grief. On the other hand, the other female character, Priscilla, seems to hold the same mystical aura about her, yet she is the is the typical female character. She is feminine in her daily activities; she prances around with a constant smile and seems naive about the world. She is the victim of other's doings. The hierarchy of the sexes is blatantly obvious in that it favors the male and holds the male ideals perfectly.

 

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