This essay traces Hawthorne’s use of the classical expression pro aris et focis, or “for hearth and altar,” over the four-decade span of his literary career. Hawthorne most fully fleshes out his romantic idea of the American hearth in “Fire-Worship,” a short essay he composed at the height of his transcendentalist phase while a resident at the Old Manse. Although Hawthorne has frequently been censured for his political incompetence, this essay shows that the author clearly announces his Northern abolitionist sympathies in “Chiefly about War Matters” even while he expresses his pacifist disapproval of the Civil War. More important, Hawthorne used the occasion of the Civil War to further develop his aesthetic representation of the domestic hearth as a romantic symbol for the Freedom that he believed burned at the heart of the human condition.


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pp. 31-60
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