'Times portraiture' : the temporal design of hawthorne's shorter fiction

Cohen, Hazel Ann
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
A study of the shorter fiction of Nathaniel Hawthorne reveals a rich experimentation with narrative techniques, all working towards what Edgar Allan Poe, Hawthorne's first critic, called a 'certain unique or single effect'. The aim of this dissertation is to show how Hawthorne's concern with the complex nature of man's temporal existence governs both the theme and structure of his fiction. Time implies both change and flux, and is inextricable from the historical, social and psychological evolution of Hawthorne's characters. As theme, time is used to disclose patterns of withdrawal and return, the problem of the individual alienated from his society, and the tension between the realm of art and the world of actuality. As structure, time is used in various ways to govern the pace of a particular story and, most certainly, to govern the unfolding sequence of events. Hawthorne consciously experiments with different generic modes, with a diversity of beginnings and endings, in order to explore the inexhaustible manifestations of human time.