The Wives of the Dead Essay

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In the following essay, Christophersen explores how Hawthorne "challenges conventional moral assumptions" in "The Wives of the Dead."

In 1832, the year Hawthorne wrote "Roger Malvin's Burial" and "My Kinsman, Major Molineux," he also wrote a less remembered, but no less exquisite story entitled "The Wives of the Dead." In it Margaret and Mary, the "young and comely" brides of two brothers, discover within a day of each other that their husbands have been killed. Grief draws them together. But during the night, each unknown to the other receives word her "dead" husband is alive and on his way home. A drama of mixed emotions ensues: neither woman can bring herself to break her news to the other, for fear of accentuating the other's sorrow.

The few critics who have addressed this tale have underlined the ambiguity of what happens that night: Do the women only dream their...

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This section contains 2,429 words
(approx. 7 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy The Wives of the Dead Study Guide
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