Thursday, November 06, 2008

On Hawthorne and Douglass: A Research Note

I haven't done too much with Hawthorne's "Egotism; or, the Bosom-Serpent" (1843) since I mentioned it here and here, but this passage from Frederick Douglass's "What to the Slave Is the Fourth of July?" (5 July 1852) got me thinking about it again:

Oh! be warned! be warned! a horrible reptile is coiled up in your nation's bosom; the venemous creature is nursing at the tender breast of your youthful republic; for the love of God, tear away and fling from you the hideous monster, and let the weight of twenty millions crush and destory it forever!

I don't think Douglass was intentionally reallegorizing "Egotism," but his switching of the gender of the afflicted victim and the location/actions of the serpent sure puts Hawthorne's short story in a different light, doesn't it?

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