The Blithedale Romance

A New Critical Reading of The Blithedale Romance College

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Blithedale Romance is an extremely enigmatic text. Due to its highly complicated and confusing plot, as well as its somewhat unreliable narrative, it is difficult--and some theorists would say impossible--to determine its final, definitive meaning. In order to create a definitive reading of the text, some theorists, such as Sacvan Bercovitch in “Hawthorne’s A-Morality of Compromise,” delve into the Hawthorne’s background, as well as the historical context of his writings. However, according to New Critical theory, to do so would be to commit the intentional fallacy by assuming that the meaning of the text is determined by the author’s intention. Instead, a New Critical reading of The Blithedale Romance looks at the text alone--its tension, form, ambiguity, and irony--in order to uncover its one, universal meaning. Thus, due to the text’s clear central tension, the vast amount of ambiguity, and considerable irony, a New Critical reading is extremely useful in determining the theme of The Blithedale Romance. For example, through a New Critical analysis of the text, one can identify that its central tension involves feminism and sexism. Furthermore, this reading studies and finds the significance of...

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