Hawthorne's sacramental vision of nature: Moving beyond Eden to the ecological
Van Wyck, James Matthew
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This study tends specifically to considerations of nature within the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne, particularly to Mosses From an Old Manse, and seeks to show that although usually overlooked by critics, Hawthorne's fiction reveals a rich ecological or environmental imagination. This paper also attempts to place this environmental imagination in context: that is, it reads Hawthorne's works in light of Emerson and (briefly) Thoreau, as well as figures such as "Good Father Miller." Further, it seeks to read Hawthorne's fiction in light of the emerging field of ecocriticism, and attempts to utilize work done in the field to shed light on new ways of reading Hawthorne. Finally, this study reads Hawthorne's "Old Manse period" fiction in light of the Common Journal of Nathaniel and Sophia Hawthorne, which they kept from 1842-1843, and which further reveals Hawthorne's vivid environmental imagination. While critics have argued that the "Old Manse period" represents an idyllic aberration, this study argues that the "Old Manse period," while unique, is not far removed from Hawthorne's "normal" life of financial hardship, material concerns, and personal loss.