Master of Arts (MA)
Number of Pages
To declare that Nathaniel Hawthorne is not known for humor would be a conspicuous understatement, for literary criticism has assigned to him the role of a melancholy, reclusive descendant of Puritans who explores and expounds the evil that lurks in the heart of man. In spite of this grave characterization, initiated by Melville in the critical essay "Hawthorne and his Mosses" and cultivated by the melodramatic exaggeration of Hawthorne himself, a thorough and unprejudiced reading of the tales and sketches reveals an abundance of humor and mirth; This study surveys the subtle humor evinced in many stories through the ironic voice of Hawthorne's narrator confronting the vagaries and ambiguities of reality--a minister inexplicably wears a veil, a scientist experiments with the Fountain of Youth, a man imagines a snake nesting in his bosom. It elucidates many instances of Hawthorne gently ridiculing himself and the writing profession and amiably displaying the foibles of mankind. It explores the startling assertion that even Hawthorne's so-called "dark side" has its humorous vein, and concludes with an in depth look at Hawthorne's humorous tales, culminating with the masterful "My Kinsman, Major Molineux.".
Hawthorne; Humor; Mirth; Nathaniel; Secret; Sketches; Smile; Tales
University of Nevada, Las Vegas
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Power, John Steele, "The secret smile: Mirth and humor in the tales and sketches of Nathaniel Hawthorne" (1993). UNLV Retrospective Theses & Dissertations. 332.
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