Mesmerism and Hawthorne: Mediums of American Romance
In Mesmerism and Hawthorne, Coale examines the mesmerist-spiritualist craze and relates it specifically to the way in which Hawthorne wrote fiction. Although many critics have discussed mesmerism as a theme in Hawthorne's work, few have analyzed the use of mesmerism as an influence on the very structure and texture of that work. For Hawthorne, mesmerism provided a fertile circumstance, complete with its sense of enchantment and the necessity of breaking its spell. The powers and techniques of mesmerism offered Hawthorne a way of describing the fiction he was trying to create. In effect what he described as the romance participates in the very acts of mesmerism it invokes and thematically or morally opposes.
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