Tag Archives: American Short Fiction

The Ethics Of Covert Playacting: In Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Wakefield” (Published)

Wakefield” constructs the situation of theater within theater within theater where almost every character is playing the audience of another stage. The story offers three layers of stages where the husband (one stage), who is being watched by the narrator and the readers (another stage), is furtively watching Mrs. Wakefield, the only player (a third stage). Oddly, no one theater is conscious of the encircling one.  Each renders the encircled theater in vulnerable conditions and undergoes what it consciously makes others unconsciously experience. The paper examines three key groups of characters to explore what Hawthorne tries to find out through vulnerability and theatrical watching. These are Wakefield, his wife, and the narrator and readers.  I will also attempt to examine how the treatment of these two concepts are manifested in the two authors’ handling of the narrative point of view. My objective is to reason that Hawthorne’s notion of vulnerability and theatrical watching offers innovative observations.

Keywords: American Short Fiction, Audience, Hawthorne, Narrative Point of View, Vulnerability, Wakefield Stage