Cracking the Code of Hawthorne’s Allegories
According to Harmon and Holman’s A Handbook to Literature, allegory
is “a form of extended metaphor in which objects, persons, and actions in
a narrative are equated with meanings that lie outside the narrative itself.
. . . Allegory attempts to evoke a dual interest, one in the events, characters,
and setting presented, and the other in the ideas they are intended to convey
or the significance they bear” (12). Allegories may be political, social,
moral, satiric, or personal in nature, or a combination of these.
Go to a web slide show on symbolism and allegory.
“M. de l’Aubépine” has already warned
us of his penchant for allegory, so consider the following for each story:
1. What universal symbols does Hawthorne use, and in what way does he transform
or subvert them? Examples might include the following:
woods, or other natural spots
journey and the traveler
beautiful innocent woman or the wicked temptress
rivers, and crossing bodies of water
generally: flowers, trees, and other elements of the natural world.Think about the different connotations of different forms of vegetation: roses, lilies, burdocks, trees, daisies, and so on.
especially (for Hawthorne) birds and insects
of day, season, or year; weather (storms, rain, snow)
what ways does reading any one of these three stories shed light on Hawthorne’s
method in the others?
what ways does Hawthorne use such symbolic devices as the shattered fountain
and the garden?
is the Renaissance setting important?
“The Celestial Railroad”
story is an allegory about an allegory. Judging from the footnotes, in what
ways does Hawthorne rewrite and transform Bunyan’s classic?
kind of allegory is this, and what kind of devices (mentioned above) does
are the subjects of Hawthorne’s satire here, and what real moral points does
he attempt to make?
what you’ve read, how would you characterize his views of transcendentalism? Progress? Mechanization or the machine age? Contemporary
allegorical or symbolic figures does the narrator meet?
“My Kinsman, Major Molineux”
kind of allegory is this story? Why is the setting important?
- Who is
Robin supposed to represent? Why does he “have the name of being a shrewd
allegorical or symbolic figures does he meet? Why do they respond to him
is happening on the night of the story? Why is the man from the inn covered
with red and black paint?
does Robin join in the laughter?