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The Role of Hawthornes Women Authors of the nineteenth century have long ignored the fact that women had equal roles in the founding of this country Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the first writers to feature women as prominent figures in his literary works He got the idea to use women characters from Sir Walter Scott who changed the role of women characters forever when he wrote the novel The Heart of Midlothian In this work no stereotypical roles were assigned to his female characters such as Magdalene Eve madonna the wife of Bath drudge or vampire In Hawthornes works The Scarlet Letter Rappaccinnis Daughter and The Birth-mark each female character is portrayed as unique and unconventional Hawthorne expanded the characters of women through his use of five recurring themes the nature of women the power of passion the discovery of evil the problem of guilt alienation pride and initiation According to some Hawthorne is able to capture the beauty and intensity of the female character because of his upbringing Hawthorne grew up with two sisters and a widowed mother He married Sophia Peabody an intellectual and emotional peer and together they raised two outspoken daughters To Hawthorne women were companions not threats which would explain why he thought the choice of a female main character was simply a natural necessity Almost no women characters existed in American literature before Hawthorne and interestingly Roy Male seems to be the only Hawthorne scholar to note the scarcity of women as major characters in early American literature Male writes In this predominately masculine enterprise writing the role of women has always been anomalous The notorious ineptitude of the heroine in Western films serves as a constant reminder that in a world of movement in space a woman was simply an encumbrance Her alternatives were to remain behind in the ancestral covered wagon and the squatters hut Without destiny
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