“Are we singular or plural, dearest?” Reframing the Literary Complexities of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s and Sophia Peabody’s Epistolary Courtship
Perry, Emma Katherine
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Julie Norko and Leland Person have worked to deconstruct Nathaniel’s letters to Sophia in light of a larger context of meaning. Each succeeds to varying degrees. However, the limited scope of their articles leaves many complexities unanswered. In “Hawthorne’s Love Letters: The Threshold World of Sophia Peabody,” Norko argues that Sophia’s nicknames function as a literary tool. This theory applies directly to my argument. However, Norko’s reasoning neglects Sophia’s active role as a constructor and negotiator of her relationship with Nathaniel. In “Hawthorne’s Love Letters: Writing and Relationship,” Person aptly argues that the letters should not “be dismissed as the effusions of star-struck lovers” (Person 211). However, he falters when he argues that Hawthorne’s use of language in his letters serve as a biographical indicator. He neglects to integrate fictional texts with this biographical approach to the letters in an effective or dynamic manner. With little-to-no scholarly analysis of my three central fictional texts and a few short guiding examples serving as an approach to the letters, this paper sets out to explore uncharted territory. Not only will we reverse conventional literary criticism, allowing the fiction to inform the letters instead of the opposite, but we will also approach and dissect the letters as if they were constructed literary materials. I argue wholly that the letters are as consciously constructed as the fiction. Only by examining these two different outlets for literary construction in tandem can we arrive at any telling conclusions concerning Hawthorne’s attitudes towards courtship, union, and the artifice of constructed identity.If you are not a current K College student, faculty, or staff member, email firstname.lastname@example.org to request access to this SIP.