Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Romanticism and Hawthorne

     Romanticism was definitely a huge transition for the world as well as the United States.  The political papers we read before transitioning to Romanticism were placed perfectly because in the papers we begin to see why the need for government was so prevalent.  It was because the individual was being valued and highlighted!  The Romanticism age simply reinforces this statement.
     Hawthorne's story was easy to read in the sense that it was written as a story.  It was a lot easier to follow and understand than the Federalist paper was.  However, I did not pick up on the ultimate meaning of the story until the very end and I might have misinterpreted but to the best of my understanding, this story is highlighting the importance of independence and an individual taking ultimate control and responsibility for his or her life.  This is evident in the very last paragraph of the story when the kind stranger encourages Robin to make something of his life without the help of beneficiaries.
     I think Hawthorne was also making a general statement about society through this story.  All throughout, Robin meets strangers along the way on his journey to find his relative who he believes can help him succeed in life.  He looks to them for simple directions and help, but everyone either refuses to help him and outright ignores him or they mislead him in some way.  Hawthorne here is trying to tell his readers that society in general is not something to reach out to in times of need.  They cannot lend a hand and ultimately the individual is on their own whether they realize it or not.  Society is really just laughing at you which is evidenced by the ending scene in the last few paragraphs.  I think Hawthorne here is trying to make a bigger point by saying that society doesn't want to watch you succeed or get where you want to go; they ultimately want to see you fail.
     This particular story made me think of The Scarlet Letter that I read in high school my junior year.  In that work, there was a lot of discussion about the Puritan society and Hawthorne similarly utilized lots of  symbols to convey a bigger idea about society and even humanity.    


  1. After class today, my understanding of Hawthorne's story was broadened. It is important to note that Hawthorne is writing this story looking back in the past living in a better, older America. While the townspeople's actions may be unimaginable, it is perhaps easy for Hawthorne to write the way he does when he is looking back.
    An additional theme that Hawthorne is creating in this text is the whole mob mentality. He is trying to ask his readers "What are you just going along with?" like some of the townspeople at the end scene in this story. One big theme I failed to pick up on earlier was the whole idea of Robin being a symbol of America's youth. When America was a very new country, we were still largely unsure if we should completely declare independence and rebellion from Great Britain. Robin is the same way. Because he is the second son, he cannot inherit any of his father's fortune and therefore sees this relative Major as his only hope for a future.
    Lastly, one question I had about the story that I failed to mention in my previous blog was whether or not the entire story was a dream or not. As we discussed in class today, that entire question is part of the Romanticism era. It was purposely left unclear in order to add to the mysterious air that characterizes Romantic literature.

  2. I agree with you, about Romanticism playing an huge role in both the U.S. and abroad.