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Philip A. Kok Romantdcism and fhe Blithedale Romance History 355 Prof Bratt Nov. 16, 1987 The 3lithedale Romance by Nathaniel Hawthorne, in order to be fully understood and appreciated, must bgevaluated from the setting in which it was Yritten. Hawthorne uses characters in the book whom although ae opens with a disclaimer of the fact, seem to represent in some ways his associates of the Brook Farm experiment (i.e. Margaret Fuller, Theodore Parker,) and other ways his colleagues of the time (i.e. Bmezson, Thoreau). More importantiy though, Hawthorne uses the characters for symbolic value. In many ways they represent the Romantic philosophy and the conflicts, problems, and dilemmas that the Romantics faced in shat period. Therefore, in order to understand and discuss the book it is necessary to begin with a brief historical background, and then integrate the story into the setting Out of the Revolutionary War, around 1790, came a period in which the common mode of thinking or philosophy was, what is calledy the "common sense Bhilosophy# The common sense philosphy was trying to overcome the other popular philosophy of John Locke and David Hume, the two famous philosophers who more or less said that what we think is “real" may not be real (in the physical sense), and may be more of a mental image which we designate as real (to sum it up briefly). Furthermore they said that simply because something happens regularly in the past (such as the law of gravity4dropping a ball for instance) there és no certainty that should happen in the future. It was a very sceptical philosophy. The common sense theory took the opposite stance of this philosophy. Basically, the common sense people said that objects are real, people can be certain of things, and scientific knowledge shall insure the truth of it all. Purlitermore, since they could not prove that God exists, but they did believe or sense that God existed and felt a need for a god, they believed that one did exist. Thus, this common sensepphil- osophy, also known as commonphilosophy, was a mixture or alliance between the ig things scientific certainty*and the common belief in God. The common sense philosophy can be applied to different movements of that esa. 1795 to the One’ bigymovement was the second Great Awakening. From mid 1800's this movement dominated the religious, political, and intellectial scene. Unlike the first awakening the second awakening was very organized, deliberate and manipulative. It used the "laws" of ow psychology (i.e. emotional appeals, anxieby bench,etc.).as well as a rational persuasive appeal to convert people. It especially emphasized the individual and the freewill of the individual to come to God, quite contrary to to be saved the Calvinist doctrine of original sin. Anybody who wanted could be saved if they tried. With this emphasis on the individual came the increasing belief that man can create for himself a sinless etate right here on earth The people had the power to achieve the sinless state, but everybody had to be part of it. Thus, in order to enhance or accelegrate this possibility this led to ance, (etc, people had to avoid bke sinful activities; and accordingly : seeeeuhc, tie reforms ‘a’ Gambling, drinking, slavery, Sabbath observ= Personal discipline was emphasizedf-hard work, moderation, > etc.” Tt was comparable in some ways to the Puritans of New England. ¢ y One other big shift happening in the early 1800's was the indus- trial movement. The cities were becoming the,economic forceg 9 rhe Aue ‘The aus classes of society were becoming separated, corruption and abuse of power were soon to come, and the machines were dominating the people The workers the economy To sum thoughts or hohe in some ways became impersonal and inconsequential,as long as worked well for the middle and upper class. it up briefly it is easiest simply to list some of the key "buzzwords": individualism, freewill, economic and social