Masks in Hawthorne's "The Blithedale Romance" Book Review by HigherEdu

Masks in Hawthorne's "The Blithedale Romance"
An examination of the use of veils and masks in Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel, "The Blithedale Romance."
# 114394 | 2,559 words | 5 sources | MLA | 2009 | CA
Published on Jun 08, 2009 in Literature (American) , Gender and Sexuality (General)

$19.95 Buy and instantly download this paper now


This paper explores the way in which Nathaniel Hawthorne employs the trope of the "Veiled Lady" in his novel "The Blithedale Romance" to characterize and comment on not only Zenobia, but several other key characters as well, including Hollingsworth, Coverdale, and Priscilla, who is the 'real' Veiled Lady. The writer explains that the trope is an apt way in which to organize or approach some of the romance's major themes, including sexual politics and male-female domination. The various themes of, and struggles for, love, such as the half-sisters 'vying' for Hollingsworth's affections are a deceitful veil behind which various 'factions' attempt to assert themselves, and their respective ideologies, as heads of the community, and attempts at domineering are a mask to hide true emotions. The paper concludes that, ultimately, politics, social roles, and love are inextricably entangled, and Blithedale is a world where masks insulate individuals from one another and from themselves.

From the Paper:

"The fact that the social experiment is a failure, and that we have numerous references to this failure from the very outset, suggests that the veil behind which the majority of the characters conceal themselves, extends not only to hiding their true faces from the world, or those around them, but masks them from themselves as well. Coverdale's initial zeal for his new life, evident in the joyous ride through the snowstorm, is quickly transformed into joy and ardour for Zenobia, and just as rapidly, into a rejection of the utopian experiment in favour of death (yet another new form of being) during his illness. He is shown to be a character that rapidly vacillates between various positions."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Christophersen, Bill. "Behind the White Veil: Self-Awareness in Hawthorne's 'The Blithedale Romance.'" Modern Language Studies, Vol. 12, No. 2. (Spring, 1982), pp. 81-92.
  • Fogle, Richard, Harter. Hawthorne's Imagery: The 'Proper Light and Shadow' In the Major Romances. Oklahoma, USA: The University of Oklahoma Press, 1969.
  • Hawthorne, Nathaniel. The Blithedale Romance. Ed. William E. Cain. USA: Bedford/St. Martins, 1996.
  • Male, Roy, R. Hawthorne's Tragic Vision. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1957.
  • Miller, John N. "Eros and Ideology: At the Heart of Hawthorne's Blithedale." Nineteenth-Century Literature, Vol. 55, No. 1. (Jun., 2000), pp. 1-21.

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

Masks in Hawthorne's "The Blithedale Romance" (2009, June 08) Retrieved September 22, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Masks in Hawthorne's "The Blithedale Romance"" 08 June 2009. Web. 22 September. 2020. <>