Romancing the mind: A look at Nathaniel Hawthorne's romances in light of "The Haunted Mind"
Camardo, Cheryl Lynn
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Nathaniel Hawthorne's sketch, "The Haunted Mind", written as a literary portrait, is the value sketch of his romances. Each romance or portrait is juxtaposed to each other and connected to the sketch akin to the Cubist technique of performing different points of view simultaneously. The sketch lessens aesthetic distance with its use of second-person narrative and calls attention to its own literary techniques that extend into the romances by way of parabasis and liminality. Layers of multiplicity resist our anticipatory reading skills and open up competing modes of interpretation. Explorations of each romance with the sketch in mind reveal Hawthorne's unique artistic building style. The sketch and romances are like the fragments of a larger picture that Hawthorne achieves by enabling the readers to empathize with several points of view and evaluate several competing narrative frames. A conscious collage is created in the readers' minds furthering the Cubist technique and encompassing the endless possibilities that the romances create with their themes of ambiguity. The readers discover a canvas with no borders by realizing the detriment of seeing reductively and single-minded thinking as demonstrated in each romance. Sigmund Freud's "unheimlich" enables readers to visualize repetition in the body (the double) and mind (return to one place over and over). Repetition, while it demonstrates the motion of an artist's brushstrokes, expresses the agony in the repetitive thought process as if the minds can only function in one way; this is the mindset that haunts the mind the most. Hawthorne changes his readers with his address and guidance right at the onset of the sketch and throughout the romances. Readers are to realize that character development is similar to the photographic process demonstrated specifically in The House of the Seven Gables . Hawthorne expresses, through layers of space and time, his desire that readers' characters are developed with such experience as John Keats' philosophy, "The Vale of Soul Making", suggests. In this way, the romances reach back to the techniques of Shakespeare and the concepts of The Holy Bible to round out the readers' experiences for transformation and growth. Hawthorne gives the readers back their legs, exactly as the cubists, the seers, and the makers of oxymorons had intended.