I find Hawthorne tedious at the best of times. This was no exception.
So, there’s this utopian get together called Blithedale and it all starts off wonderfully with everyone pulling together in the fields in some kind of kibbutz by day and listening to stirring speeches by night. But the narrator, Coverdale, seems to have his doubts right from the start and, sure enough, the wheels begin to come off as the members discover that everything would be perfect if it wasn’t for one factor: them.
The rest of the novel then kind of disintegrates as Coverdale leaves the place and then, somehow in the midst of a teeming city, seems to stumble upon key characters from the community. They appear to be involved in some kind of mystical stage show which Coverdale watches. All of sudden, we’re back in the forest where the community seems to have regrouped for some reason and the novel kind of peters out from there.
Along the way, we have various “conversations” which the author uses for some Rand-ish opportunism as he waxes forth on various opinionated views from community to women’s rights, etc. It all seems a bit contrived.
This is a shame because, as the novel began and I realised what Hawthorne was constructing, I was really looking forward to a utopian ideal self-destructing and revealing various elements of the human condition that cause us to taint everything we attempt. This didn’t materialise however. Instead, Hawthorne seems to have decided it best to introduce a plot which is convoluted at best and contains twists that the reader isn’t really bothered about when they are finally revealed.
Stick to The Scarlet Letter if you’ve never read a Hawthorne.
Key: Legacy | Plot / toPic | Characterisation / faCts | Readability | Achievement | Style
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