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Month: October 2016

Poe’s Analysis of Hawthorne: Wakefield

Edgar Allen Poe justifiably praises Hawthorne as an author of remarkable originality, thoughtful and subdued tone, as well as remarking on the unique and meritorious beauty of each of his works, especially in the story of Wakefield. In addition, the effectiveness of a soothing delivery of highly imaginative composition persuasively influences the reader’s processing of Hawthorne’s story. As Edgar Allen Poe states, Hawthorne’s writing “consists chiefly in the calm, quiet, unostentatious expression of commonplace thoughts.” In other words, Hawthorne casually, conversationally creates a dialogue in his story that lets the reader draw logically come to the same conclusion that Hawthorne has already outlined as though it were an independent thought. On page 396, Hawthorne asks the reader “What sort of man was Wakefield? We are free to shape out our own idea,” and this question draws out an in depth, coherent and rational depiction of Wakefield which is suggested in a manner giving plausible belief that the reader might have invented a similar portrayal without prompt.


It is definitely difficult to doubt the originality of an author who nonchalantly delivers vocabulary such as “nincompoop,” and “whim-wham” in their tales. As Poe states, “Mr. Hawthorne’s distinctive trait is invention, creation, imagination, originality- a trait which, in the literature of fiction, is positively worth all the rest.” Not only is Hawthorne weaving a tale that has yet to be told, but he also does it in a manner that has yet to be manufactured. Poe further characterizes the originality of Hawthorne’s work by writing that “The inventive or original mind as frequently displays itself in novelty of tone as in of novelty of matter.” In Wakefield, Hawthorne clearly commands both aspects of this equation. On page 400, Hawthorne depicts a scene with instructions for the reader, “Watch him” Hawthorne seems to whisper from the pages, “Cast your eyes in the opposite direction.” It’s as though the reader and Hawthorne sit perched above the scene he has craftily created in astute observation of all that passes.


It is important to note, however, that Hawthorne does not ramble. As Poe verifies in his analysis of the writing “ In the whole composition there should be no word written, of which the tendency, direct or indirect, is not to the one pre-established design. He further states that the tale is presented “unblemished” and “undisturbed” by the presence of unnecessary and nonessential tangents or information in the written work. Wakefield is no exception, as Hawthorne expertly indulges the reader with enough information and storytelling so as to effectively convey the tale, without distracting or marring the narrative. Poe spoke correctly as he awarded Hawthorne with as much honor as was possibly, and Wakefield serves as due proof of Hawthorne’s literary prowess.



Nathaniel Hawthorne: Author of Wakefield
Edgar Allen Poe