In regards to Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Marble Faun, what is meant by European Romantics heritage?

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

This is fairly broad in scope.  I think that the heritage or legacy of the Romantic movement in Europe relates to how its ideas are in action in contexts that are apart from it.  For example, how would Hawthorne's work embody the Romanticist heritage?  I would say that one way this is plausible is through the exploration of emotions that both Hawthorne and the Romantics vaulted above all else.  The Romantic heritage is an emotional one, where the frame of reference for individual consciousness is a subjective one.  Hawthorne brings this out in his story, as there is an exploration into the emotions of love, guilt, loyalty, sin, and hopes at redemption.  Additionally, a Romantic heritage is one where there is a comfort with the idea of "the unexplained" and ideas that lie outside the realm of scientific appropriation.  Hawthorne's story embraces this aspect of the heritage as well as the ending's idea of Miriam's redemption is not something that is clearly defined.  Along these lines, there is an equivocation brought out in terms of Miriam's guilt.  Hawthorne draws out the idea of a difference between legal and moral culpability.  This is Romantic in its very nature, as it seeks to bring out that within the realm of human emotions lies a realm that the calculating and rational precepts of civil and conformist society cannot appropriate.  While Miriam is not legally responsible for the crime, she sure carries a great deal of moral weight and condemnation for what she did to Donatello, robbing him of his faun like joie de vivre.

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The Marble Faun

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