College of Arts and Sciences

Department of English

ESQ: A Journal of the American Renaissance

Michael Borgstrom

"Hating Miles Coverdale"

This essay considers how heated critical reactions to one of Nathaniel Hawthorne's narrators, Miles Coverdale (of The Blithedale Romance), demonstrates both a striking investment in stable forms of identity and a staunch rejection of personal claims to self-definition. Indeed, in spite of the prominence of poststructuralist analytical paradigms that prize indeterminacy and social ambiguity, Coverdale's refusal to be "known" by his readers is routinely interpreted as personal duplicity. As such, negative reactions to Hawthorne's character, particularly when coupled with views of him as proto-homosexual, reveal the tensions within the concept of identity as "choice."

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