Nathianel Hawthorne Stereotype ‘the Angel of the House’

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Nathianel Hawthorne

Nathianel Hawthorne was an American writer of novels and short stories who lived between 1804 and 1864 (Hawthorne 2). Most of his writing was centered on New England featuring majorly on moral metaphors with an anti-puritan inspiration. His works were fictions with more emphasis on dark romantic (Boonyaprasop 15). In his writings, he brought out the theme of the immanent evil sin of humanity. His works were heavily loaded with moral messages and deep psychological complexity. In his works, he focused on gender injustices that were deep rooted in the society and which needed to be amended. He criticized the mistreatment of women by the society and social stereotypes that existed and whose main agenda was to advance gender inequalities. Nathianel was well versed with knowledge of the society. He was living in and used every means possible in his works to point out the evil deeds that existed. In his publications, a major way of conveying his message was the use of the stereotype, ‘angel of the house.’ During his time, women were under intense ideological pressure to perform as ‘angels in the house’.

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This pressure created a notion in women to feel psychologically abnormal (Hawthorne 2). However, some women were against feminized cultural heartmaking, headmaking and bodymaking. They argued that the pathologizing of women was destructive. In the context of the stereotype the “angel” was censored not of sin, sorrow, decay, and decay, but of life. Hawthorne uses the “angel” to refer to women and likens her to estranged workers who hardly played a role in influencing their conditions of labor. His cultural symbolism compels readers to re-surmise the broad psychological gender relations that according to him are connected to larger social, industrial and class relations that fabricate both ideological and emotional needs for plainly ordered sex roles. In his work, he insinuates that gender self scrutiny of a kind was vital because it played a major role in the social construction of a systemic power and emotional life possible (Hawthorne 20). Hawthorne constantly insisted that women could stand against the psychological intimidation that they suffered in the hands of the society.

Evidently, he criticizes the argument by Hester a philosopher that some sectors of the social power and terms such notion as vague (Hawthorne 50). He believes that an inner self of the women would redefine the female “essence” in the society. Hawthorne maintained that emotional attachment of women to restorative angelhood and motherhood restrained them from further exhaustive theorizing and action. In his work, “The Artist of the Beautiful”, Hawthorne makes tremendous contributions to the cultural theory of subjectivity formation. He prompts readers to put into consideration the historical rationale and needs of romantics who attempt to use culture to construct what in their imagination is “spirit.” Hawthorne further uses other symbols like beauty to depict the subjectivity of women in the society by trying to show how beautify were just but a mere aspect in the society. He insisted that the artisans’ education in the field of science and drawing was their pathway to self-making, dignity, self-control and accomplishment of his civic and national responsibility (Hawthorne 4). Hawthorne’s tales to some extent seemed to advocate for an important or general selfhood.

However, they provoked readers to visualize gender, individuality and interiority as being the products of class-identity machinery. In his works, he insisted that the social classes in the society ought to be addressed from an individual based scrutiny (Hawthorne 9). This would grow an inner self positive perspective whose impact would be the creation of the awareness of self responsibilities and rights in the society. The product of such self searching and understanding would be the decoration of the middle class with individuality. He made use of butterfly and butterfly maker in his work. The butterfly maker is responsible for refashioning and reassembling of the butterfly in the event of its breakdown. The butterfly maker resembles the author or the artist while the butterfly represents the morals of the society. The author or the artist is mandated with the moral obligation of redefining the values and perceptions, an industrial society that had persistently disregarded some arts as useless, fatuous and unprofitable. This was symbolic of the possibility of reconstructing the social harmony of the gender issue. He further suggested that the author can only overcome the attempts by the industrial world to destroy this reconstruction if they developed and exercised the cultural power to create new meaning and importance of the worth of not only the creation but also of the endeavor (Jarenski 20). The artist must stand by his faith and against mankind if the reconstruction is to be realized.

Hawthorne lived at a time when gender injustices were highly embraced in America. He used the stereotype ‘angel of the house’ because it directly addressed women in her society. For instance, his critique of Hester’s perception about the gender injustice transformation as hopeless was propelled by his unrelenting efforts to change the status quo. In his relaying of ideologies and suggestions of cultural selfing and innerselfing, he demonstrated historical personal relations, emotions and bodies to people in his society (Bennett 12). He wrote during the period when Indians were being removed from east to west, imperialist war against Mexico and the mounting protests against slavery. He majored on a scrutiny on the situation of natives as these were his kinsmen. He linked the construction of emotions, self-images and social power Hawthorne grew in a financially challenged family and understood the injustices that socially low-ranked people in the society experienced (Hawthorne 69). This added to his attachment of the mission of advocating restructuring of gender injustices.

His close friends showered him with praises terming him as a man with exemplary virility famous for his ‘military self-command.’ This further confirmed his connection to people in his life and the values and perceptions he advocated for. However, in his last days he wrote about having lived all alone in his early life without akin and yet yearning to be connected to somebody (Bennett 16). He lived a life of going against the social norms of the day (masculinity). It haunted him as it was unreal to the world he lived in yet it established an imposing record of manly attainment.

Adam and eve parallel in relation to Hawthorne’s two works

John Milton’s paradise lost is one of the best epic poems ever written in history. The poem is based on the fall of man the trickery and the Events surrounding the fall. The first version of the poem was published in 1667 which constituted a collection of ten books with over ten thousand verses therein. However, in the year 1674, a second edition of the book was edited which constituted a few revisions based on 12 books (Lewalski 40). The book basically is considered as one of Milton’s major works which clearly discusses on some issues which Hawthorne wanted to address in his works. The poem mainly focuses on the events which followed the fall of man in the garden of Even. Characters under consideration are Adam and Eve and their life in the garden.

In addition, Satan and the temptations imposed on Eve are clearly outlined in the poem. The books main purpose is clearly stated by Milton which is justifying the ways of GOD to men. Milton’s story has two perspectives, one relates to Satan and the other on Adam and Eve. The story originates from the period when Satan together with other angels who were his accomplices are defeated and chased from heaven. According to the book, the specific term used is that they were sent to hell which is referred to as Tartarus (Shumaker 78). While in what is referred to pandaemonium, Satan is seen as having continued his rebellion practice by gathering followers. He is supported by other evil angels who were also present at the time. After the lengthy discussion in the evil kingdom, Satan volunteers to pose challenges in the newly created world and eventually the garden of Even. The aforementioned challenges were to be achieved by corrupting the mind of mankind. In Milton’s poem, angelic war is described from a few perspectives.

According to the poem, the war between faithful angels and Satan angels took place in a period of three days (Shumaker 90). However, after the three days Satan’s angels together with him were defeated by the son of God and eventually sent away from heaven. Following this incidence, God decided to create the world. The world was created through a word of mouth from God who usually used the words” let there be”. After creation of the world, God saw that it was better to create mankind to live in it. As a result, he created Adam. Adam stayed in the garden alone and took care of the garden including the animals in it. During this entire period, God saw that Adam was lonely and needed a companion. It was at this time that God decided to create a helper for him. According to the Bible, God made Adam to fall into a deep sleep. It was during this time that he removed one of Adam’s ribs and from it Eve was created. Although God gave them the authority to watch over the creation, they were not to eat the fruit of the tree of knowledge between good and evil.

The bible story on Adam and Eve on the temptations and fall of mankind is clearly a new epic which can be categorized as domestic. In relation to the book, they are represented as having a type of relationship which was considered as romantic. Despite having this type of relationship, they are noted to have had no sin. According to Lewalski (40), they had distinct personalities which are expected between different human beings. During their stay in the garden, Satan in form of serpent shows up and persuades Eve with certain ideologies in relation to the fruit of knowledge. The serpent manages to convince Eve to eat the fruit and decides to take some of the fruit to Adam. Due to their nature of relationship, Adam on learning that Eve has sinned also decides to commit the same sin. Adam claims that since Eve was created from his flesh if she dies they must die together. According to Milton, the actions of Adam outline him as a heroic figure. Moreover, Adam is described as a greater sinner compared to Eve since he knowingly commits sin. After eating the fruit, Adam and Eve are said to have had lustful sex. During this time, they reached a point where they were almost convinced that eating the fruit was the rightful thing.

Shortly after all these actions, they fell into a deep sleep and had nightmares. On waking up, they realized that they were naked. In addition, they discovered that they had sinned and were ashamed to face God. After convincing Adam and Eve to sin, Satan returned to hell where he was received in what is referred to as a triumphant way (Shumaker 98). To him convincing them to sin is an achievement since he was satisfied that the actions would lead to the fall of man. Meanwhile, Adam and Eve after realizing their mistake they decided to approach God for forgiveness. The idea was brought by Eve who managed to convince Adam of the necessary actions to take. Following their actions, they were eventually cast out of the Garden of Eden and they received punishment from God. Eve was given the punishment of bearing pain while giving birth (Coale 30). On the other hand, Adam was to eat his sweat which meant that in his entire life he had to struggle. The serpent was not spared the punishment and was to crawl in his entire life without legs. Both, Milton’s paradise lost and Hawthorne’s birth-mark, have similar concepts. It is important to note that, one of the common similarities in both books is the relationship between man and woman. In birth-mark, Georgina is noted to love her husband and she is willing to take the risk of removing the mark on her cheek (Marsh 723).

Despite her knowing the possible consequence which is death, she decides to go on with the process. The aforementioned action clearly shows the type of bond between man and human and their ability to influence each other. In addition, the books clearly show a situation in which mankind is dissatisfied with the original beauty. It is clearly noted when Georgina tries to remove the birthmark in order to perfect her beauty (Hawthorne 100). Moreover, the same type of bond between man and woman is clearly seen in paradise lost. Adam and Eve according to the poem are said to have a romantic relationship. Once Eve is deceived by the serpent and eats the tree of knowledge, the action clearly shows mankind’s dissatisfaction and shows how man yearns for perfection. After Adam knows Eve has eaten the fruit, he opts to also eat the fruit despite knowing the consequences. The bond between man and woman is clearly seen when Adam says that Eve was created from his flesh and they should die together.

‘Trying to play God through science’ in Hawthorne’s two works

In addition, the short story “Rappacccini’s Daughter” there is a love story about young man which can be seen and he is determined to be with his beloved even though the fact remains that she is poisonous (Benton et al 15). The underlying theme of science arises when examining the text. Science was rapidly evolving during the period in which this piece was written. All biological sciences must be employed at the analytical level thus they should go a taxonomic stage since their data must be put in order. Rappacccini’s Daughter by Nathaniel Hawthorne utilizes Rappaccini’s unrelenting pursuit of knowledge that causes the tragic loss of his daughter(Schummer 160). This was to display destructive and productive powers of scientific discovery which in the 18th century is when it evolved into the American society. Geovanni is the young man who is the main character and in the short story, it is clearly indicated he madly in love with Beatrice who is the daughter of the mysterious Dr. Rappacccini.

The scientist has a magnificent garden of poisonous plant that could not be produced by nature. He had his daughter who handled them and at long last led to him becoming poisonous herself. Professor Baglioni who was her teacher warned her that Dr. Rappacccini is known to use science to do unnatural things. “But as for Rappacccini, it is said of him and me, who know the man well, can answer for its truth which he cares infinitely more about science than mankind”. To carry out his relentless quest, he was willing to sacrifice his own daughter for the ability and knowledge to control the nature. The theme of trying to play with God through science in Hawthorne’s two works proves that science won big victories against entranced religious dogma over the 19th century. Remains in Neanderthal in Belgium discovered by Gibraltar and Germany indicated that humans were not the only hominids to occupy the earth. Remains and fossils of extinct plants and animals further demonstrated that flora and fauna evolve, live for millennia and sometimes die off and afterward ceding their place on the planet to come up with adapted species and that can happen through science.

Claims have made and proved by scientist that earth is not thousands but billions of years old as some theologians had calculated based on counting generations back to the biblical Adam. The literal interpretation of scripture was defeated by all these discoveries. From the beginning of the 20th-century modern science proved there no God. Science is an amazing and wonderful undertaking which teaches issues about life, the universe and world. With all that according to Hawthorne’s two works, it does not reveal to us why the universe came into existence or what had preceded its birth in the Big Bang. The history concerning how living organism emerged from inanimate matter is not brought to slightest understanding by biological evolution. Moreover, science has not disapproved God despite that the scientist have tried to come up with discoveries like usage of special pendulum who circular motion display the planet rotation. Discoveries done by geologist indicated that in the same century there was devastation of “young earth” hypothesis.

Based on counting generations back to the biblical Adam, some theologians have calculated and found that earth is billion and not thousands years young. In Nathaniel Hawthorne two works, all these discoveries defeated literal interpretation of the scripture. Even though modern science seems amazing, it has some failures as we try to capture the features of the entire universe. For instance some question can be raised which science have failed totally to answer (Benton et al 7). Science itself has failed to explain the greatest mysteries. Question like how did consciousness arise in living things? This question lacks sufficient answer from the knowledge we derive from science. On biblical explanation it is true that God he is the entire creator of everything including the universe which usually challenges the human beings understanding despite their possession knowledge from science. There is contradiction when we want to respond to some question which seems to be beyond human understanding. Such question includes, where do self-awareness and symbolic thinking come from? Other question which can be raised to hinder the knowledge of science can be, what enables us create works.

Work Cited

Bennett, Paula. Poets in the Public Sphere: The Emancipatory Project of American Women’s Poetry, 1800-1900. Princeton University Press, 2003.pp9-20 Benton, Matthew A., John Hawthorne, and Yoaav Isaacs. “Evil and evidence.” Oxford studies in philosophy of religion 7 (2016): 1-31. Boonyaprasop, Marina. “A Forest Walk”-The Concept of Nature in Hawthorne’s” Young Goodman Brown” and” The Scarlet Letter.” (2010).pp10-25 Coale, Samuel. The Entanglements of Nathaniel Hawthorne: Haunted Minds and Ambiguous Approaches. Camden House, 2011.pp27-40 Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The birth-mark. Booklassic, 2015.pp1-121 Jarenski, Shelly. Narrating vision, visualizing nation: The American nineteenth century after 1839. Loyola University Chicago, 2007pp17-26 Lewalski, Barbara Kiefer.? ” Paradise Lost” and the Rhetoric of Literary Forms. Princeton University Press, 2014. Pp34-90. Marsh, Clayton. “Hawthorne’s Distillery: Time and Temperance in “The Birth-Mark” and Other Tales.” American Literature 88.4 (2016): 723-753. Schummer, Joachim. “‘Are You Playing God’: Synthetic Biology and the Chemical Ambition to Create Artificial Life.” HYLE–International Journal for Philosophy of Chemistry 22 (2016): 149-172. Shumaker, Wayne.? Unpremeditated Verse: Feeling and Perception in” Paradise Lost”. Princeton University Press, 2015.pp78-98

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Nathianel Hawthorne stereotype 'the angel of the house'. (2018, Dec 14). Retrieved March 28, 2023 , from

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