Representing Early America in "Wieland" College

In the gothic novel Wieland [1], Charles Brockden Brown confronts the anxieties of the early United States Republic regarding the sense of the threat posed by “wandering anarchists, dangerous foreigners and murderous savages.” As a work of the transnational imaginary, Wieland centers on the impact of the foreign ‘other’ on a family which can be seen to represent the wider context of colonial America. The novel was written in 1798, at which time the American Republic was still young and its national identity was in a fragile and incomplete state of progress. The lack of unity bought by Carwin and the outsiders he stands for presented a sense of jeopardy in the nation’s search for this identity.

Francis Carwin epitomizes the type of character at the center of these anxieties, as he appears to be an embodiment of all the aspects of an outsider which caused them to be seen as a threat to the unity and stability of the American Republic. He was born British, assimilated himself into Spanish culture, and at the time of the novel’s events attempts to insert himself into a colonial Philadelphian family. He appears as an ‘alien’ among the familiar harmony of the family that embodies the early American Republican focus on unity and...

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