The Blithedale Romance

Social Sciences and Psychology in The House of the Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance College

Hawthorne’s science fiction short stories, such as ‘The Birthmark’ and ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter,’ are set in the seventeenth century. His novels, however, The House of the Seven Gables and The Blithedale Romance, are set in the nineteenth century, his own era. The progression of science from alchemy to psychological and social sciences occurs in reality, and is evident as a shift in Hawthorne’s fiction. Science in the nineteenth century was no longer a crude physical chemistry, but evolved into psychology, a science based on the human mind and its behavior. With the American industrial revolution beginning in the eighteenth century, this scientific progress occurred quickly; therefore, a large element still resides in stages of experimentation in nineteenth century science. Experimentation is a key component in Hawthorne’s seventeenth century stories, and the fear of alchemy is still present in later contexts. Yet Hawthorne’s nineteenth century set fiction also exhibits a rationalization of science, as the experiments progress from using people as physical reactants, to instead social subjects. This transition to a rationalized modernity is also reflected in genre. The Gothic motifs in ‘Rappaccini’s Daughter’ and ‘The Birthmark’...

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