PJAS 16-5

Justyna Fruzińska
Becoming Real to Oneself: Emerson, Thoreau, Hawthorne
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 16 (2022), pp. 61-69

Abstract: This paper focuses on three American Romantic writers: Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, examining the problem of ghostliness or life not fully lived present in their works. The point of departure for the present discussion is Arnold Weinstein\’s analysis of Hawthorne’s short story “Wakefield,” suggesting that the main goal of its protagonist is an attempt to become real to himself. This paper finds similar issues to the ones tackled by Hawthorne in the essays by R.W. Emerson and H.D. Thoreau, and argues that the method applied by Wakefield, which is looking at one’s life from a distance, is also present in the two Transcendentalists’ writings, though often as a danger rather than a wished-for solution of the problem.

Keywords: Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Nathaniel Hawthorne, ghostliness, selfhood

DOI: 10.7311/PJAS.16/2022.05

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