National Domesticity III Hawthorne’s Historical Consciousness
Recap: “Memory & Forgetting” All profound changes in consciousness, by their very nature, bring with them characteristic amnesias. Out of such oblivions, in specific historical circumstances, spring narratives. (204) • Changes in “consciousness” (nationalism) • Narratives emerge from the need to give the nation a “biography” (national identity) • The nation requires a “memory” of “continuity”
Recap: “Memory & Forgetting” Hence, for the members of what we might call ‘second-generation’ nationalist movements, those which developed in Europe between 1815 to 1850, and also for the generation that inherited the independent national states of the Americas, it was no longer possible to ‘recapture/The first fine careless rapture’ of their revolutionary predecessors. For different reasons and with different consequences, the two groups thus began the process of reading nationalism genealogically – as the expression of an historical tradition of serial continuity. (195) • Hawthorne is one of these “second generation” nationalists, for whom national identity was an “inheritance” • Constructing “memory”
Recap: “Memory & Forgetting” Hawthorne: “…the author has provided himself with a moral – the truth, namely, that the wrongdoing of one generation lives into the successive ones…” (x) • The novel opens by narrating a colonial history. • Maule’s Blood Curse: a history of dispossession coming back to haunt the Pynchon line.
Recap: “Memory & Forgetting” • Hawthorne’s historical imagination in THotSG is firmly rooted in national consciousness • Question of lineage, continuity of “the people” • Question of history, “biography” of the nation • Ruptures in this temporality are indicative of problems with this “continuity” • “haunting” = the past living unnaturally in the present • “rumor/myth” = an “unofficial” memory
Back to Hawthorne’s Domesticity • The “site” of all of this memory is the house itself – hence, the title. • Site of property • Site of family • Site of historical trauma (the curse) • Site of class division • Let’s look at what characterizes THoSG over the novel and the characters that inhabit it: Hepzibah, Phoebe, Clifford, Holgrave, Judge Pyncheon
Smith’s “Prying Eyes…” • Back to a Fall Quarter activity – Let’s break down the argument! • 4 groups – each group take a section of the text • What is it’s main topic? • What are it’s main arguments? • What does it contribute to the larger argument?
Narrative Voice… • “Classic realism, still the dominant popular mode in literature, film, television drama, roughly coincides whronologically with the epoch of industrial capitalism” (62). • “…a high degree of intelligibility is sustained throughout the narrative as a result of the hierarchy of voices in the text. The hierarchy works above all by means of a privileged voice…” (65).
Narrative Vision… • “In Hawthorne’s text, the gaze functions as a weapon in battles of class prerogative, posed first as an aristocratic privilege usurped by artisanal challengers” (19). • “Much to her horror, Hepzibah must invite into her secluded domain not a party of her imagined social equals but a mass public… The familiar gaze terrifies HepzibahPyncheon, as it symbolically dismantles the privileges of class hierarchy” (27).
“It still lacked half an hour of sunrise, when Miss HepzibahPyncheon… arose from her solitary pillow, and began what it would be mockery to term the adornment of her person. Far from us be the indecorum of assisting, even in imagination, at a maiden lady’s toilet! Our story must therefore await Miss Hepzibah at the threshold of her chamber; only presuming, meanwhile , to note some of the heavy sighs that labored from her bosom… insomuch as they could be audible to nobody save a disembodied listener like ourself” (19).
Find another passage to talk about the narrative voice. Connect it to some of the observations we have made in this close reading.
Closure • How has the story “tied up” the issues we have highlighted? • Problems of class and gender in domesticity • Problems of history and haunting • Problems of voice