Coursera Fantasy and Science Fiction Week 5
Twice Told Tales, Mosses From An Old Manse And Other Stories - Hawthorne
As obsession increases we are drawn ever deeper into the world of madness. Hawthorne uses different methods to signpost this by choosing to locate an objective voice differently in three of his tales. In each case, the victim or victims lose their sense of perspective, but a voice of reason exists to define the moral centre.
In "The Birthmark", as Aylmer's obsession leads Georgiana into a madness which will ultimately overwhelm her, the author relects her descent through an ironic lifecycle image system which passes through puberty: "...a crimson stain upon the snow..."; marriage: "...he led her over the threshold..."; procreation: "...a... fragrance, capable of impregnating the breezes..." and finally "...he was as pale as death..." Once Georgiana dies, the narrator's voice returns the narrative to an objective voice.
By contrast, in "Dr. Heidegger's Experiment", Heidegger himself appears objective. His four elderly friends who taste the elixir are so seduced by the feeling of youth they momentarily experience, they resolve to dedicate the remainder of their lives to seeking, obtaining and consuming it. The wise Heidegger looks on, apparently remaining the incorruptible and objective scientist, but at the same time responsible as the catalyst of their downfall.
In "Rapaccini's Daughter", one objective voice is the wise protector Guasconti, who warns Giovanni that he has "...fallen into fearful hands..." by coming under the spell of Beatrice and her father. Giovanni is so enchanted, he refuses or is unable to listen, but a second protector in Baglioni provides an antidote which finally results in Beatrice's death.
Ultimately, this makes the latter the more moral tale. Rapccini's transgression is punished, Heidegger is revealed not to be the benign figure he originally appeared, while Aylmer may never escape from the delusion he has fallen into.
peer 1 → Very well written. Excellent use of quotations. Very well structured.
peer 2 → Well written, with clear examples taken from the stories to defend your point. Clear and concise with a very easy-to-follow structure
peer 3 → I like it very much, I would like you to give a title, as I always say, but no matter, the essay is well written and calibrated, everything is clear and the comprehension is fluid and pleasant...
peer 4 → "As obsession increases we are drawn ever deeper into the world of madness." I really liked how this sentence was worded, and that it was the beginning of your essay. You have a very clear beginning that helps the reader know what to expect throughout the beginning. This is a very clear and matter-of-fact form of essay. The grammar is correct and the words are properly used.
peer 5 → very well-structured
peer 1 → I learned a thing or two from your insightful analysis, and appreciate it very much.
peer 2 → Good insight and comparison among the 3 stories. I like your final summary in the last sentence. It really expresses in a concise way the point you want to make in the essay
peer 3 → Contents are interesting, the question of madness is an important point in Hawthorne's poetics. I like how he/she deals with it, the examples are well explained and the fil-rouge is clear. Bravo!
peer 4 → "Hawthorne uses different methods to signpost this by choosing to locate an objective voice differently in three of his tales." This is a very interesting insight. I was amused reading your essay.
peer 5 → This is so far the best essay I've read this week