Artist of the Beautiful

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Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804—1864) American novelist and short-story writer


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Allegorical ale by Hawthorne, published in the Democratic Review (1844) and in Mosses from an Old Manse (1846).

Owen Warland, a youthful watchmaker, obsessed with a desire to create something ideally beautiful, loves Annie Hovenden, daughter of his former master. She is unsympathetic toward his aspirations and his delicate nature, and Peter Hovenden and the blacksmith, Robert Danforth, both rough and unimaginative, oppress Owen and destroy his inspiration. Annie marries Danforth, and for a time Owen forsakes his dreams for grosser practical activities, but then devotes himself to creating a mechanical butterfly, fragile, lovely, and endowed with living qualities. When he exhibits his work to Annie and her family, Danforth and Hovenden seem to oppress the insect as they do its creator, while Annie prefers to admire her child. The child, who resembles his grandfather, rudely crushes the butterfly, but Owen looks on calmly; “he had caught a far other butterfly than this.”

Subjects: Literature.

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