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The Magic Barrel Essay | Critical Essay #5

This Study Guide consists of approximately 56 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of The Magic Barrel.
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Critical Essay #5

In the following excerpt, Miller discusses the role of love in "The Magic Barrel."

Although Bernard Malamud has colored his short story "The Magic Barrel" with the language and the manners of the Jewish ghetto, he also makes use of a cultural past that has a closer relationship to Nathaniel Hawthorne and Blaise Pascal than to Sholem Aleichem.

Malamud, of course, is using the same motif that Hawthorne mined in The Scarlet Letter—the love of the minister and the whore. Hawthorne's Dimmesdale, the man of God, was destroyed because he could not accept Hester and her emblem of sexual transgression. In Malamud's story too, Leo Finkle, the young rabbinical student, is at first repelled when he senses the sexual history of Stella, the matchmaker's daughter. Although he does not yet know specifically that she is a whore when he first sees her picture, his attraction is...

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This section contains 1,014 words
(approx. 4 pages at 300 words per page)
Purchase our The Magic Barrel Study Guide
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The Magic Barrel from BookRags and Gale's For Students Series. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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