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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 83 | volume XV | March-April, 2012



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 83March-April, 2012
Essays

(American) ‘Women-Others’

A Look inside Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Male-Centered Short-Story World


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Jelena Nikodinoska

This paper will attempt to define, as fully as my study allows so far, the status of the women in society, and the inward perception of her as “the Other” in a male-centered society. I plan to focus my analysis of the American 19th century isolating male-dominated narrative cosmos, by taking my cue from Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Selected Short Stories (1946) – two stories in particular, “Rappaccini’s Daughter” (1844) and “The Birthmark” (1843); for it is a narrative world within which the female mindset reads as fully molded by self-centered self-actualizing men. Thus, my two-fold analysis aims to introduce the reader to a historical outlook of woman in American society, and to the concept of “Woman as the ‘Other’”; and, drawing on these notions, to decipher male-female relationship in Hawthorne’s male-dominated narrative cosmos.

1. The history of 19th century American woman, and her (assigned) values


    ‘The [Narrated] Other’ does not simply imply one’s non-belonging to 'The (Physical) Same', for it makes reference not only to race or gender, but it overpasses materialism and penetrates into one’s psychology and self-perception among “The Others”. However, the role of ‘The Other’ has shifted/shifts, since it relies, at any one time, on the chosen point of view: namely, it can stand for an individual society perceives as distinct, or as a separate community, viewed as such by from a marginalized standpoint. Henceforth, today, our (re)examination of the term ‘The Other’ cannot simply rely on the ratio of majority to minority, or vice versa, for we need to look for ways which would help us frame it within a specific historic, socio-economic, and/or cultural reality.
    In the first place, through the focus on 19th century American society, this analysis aims to look at how America had transformed itself politically, economically, and in its social arrangements; most precisely, the manner in which these factors influenced, and imparted woman’s position in society.
    The first point to note is that America’s independence marked the beginning of a new kind of dependence; for in the newly Independent America’s “All men are created equal” there was no room for women. Along with that, the beginning of the 19th century set up the “Cult of True Womanhood”[1], which taught values of piety, purity, submissiveness and domesticity, and nourished the new ideal of the domestic angel confronted to the self-reliant style of manhood. Women were assigned the home as a morally better world, where they were “to

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1. Welter, Barbara, “The Cult of True Womanhood: 1820-1860” (1966 ) http://www.pinzler.com/ushistory/cultwo.html






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