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October 31 , 2008

Nathaniel Hawthorne as Political Philosopher

Revolutionary Principles Domesticated and Personalized


Using the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne as a case study, John E. Alvis shows that a novelist can be a political philosopher. He demonstrates that much of Hawthorne’s works are rooted in the American political tradition. Once we view his writings in connection with the principles expressed in the Declaration of Independence, we grasp that what Thomas Jefferson and John Adams had stated explicitly, Hawthorne’s fiction conveys dramatically. With examples drawn from Hawthorne’s shorter works, as well as acknowledged classics, such as The Scarlet Letter, John E. Alvis shows that Hawthorne’s characters bear something sacred in their generic humanity, yet are subject to moral judgment. He conveys reciprocity between obligations regulating individual relations and the responsibilities of individuals to their community.

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