Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
A comparative study of the references to science in the works of Nathaniel Hawthorne and those of Jean Jacques Rousseau, William Wordsworth, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, and Edgar Allan Poe revealed Hawthorne’s attitude toward science and scientists was similar to that of these Romantic writers. The popular attitude toward science during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries had an effect on the portrayal of science in the writings of the period. Although the Romantics, like others of their time, hoped science would lead to an improved life for man, they were skeptical of the disastrous effects of new scientific discoveries. Hawthorne shared the Romantics dislike for science meddling with nature and destroying nature’s beauties and causing evil. Science was also accused of destroying man’s individuality and of destroying man’s love of beauty. According to Hawthorne and the other Romantics, by delving deeply into the study of science, scientists became so absorbed in their work that they lost their love for humanity. No sacrifice, not even a loved one’s life, was too great if it would add to the store of scientific knowledge. The Romantics did not portray all scientists as cold, inhuman monsters, but implied that even those with good intentions harmed mankind through errors resulting from too little knowledge. Research for this paper was largely confined to the works and autobiographical material of each of the five writers. Biographies and critical analyses of these authors’ works were helpful for interpretation and background material.
Copyright 1958 Doris Chipman
Chipman, Doris, "The Attitude of Hawthorne Toward Science Compared with the Attitudes of Rousseau, Wordsworth, Goethe, and Poe" (1958). Master's Theses. 596.