The concept of the unified sensibility in selected works of Nathaniel Hawthorne



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The unified sensibility describes the qualities that Hawthorne saw as necessary attributes of the mature, fully realized personality. Although Hawthorne saw every individual as unique and capable of working out his destiny in his own way, it is possible to group his characters according to their general attitudes toward life, and on the basis of such groupings, to understand some of Hawthorne's beliefs about human nature, creativity, and reality. The three classes of characters are the violators, the victims, and the survivors. The violators--those who "violate the sanctity of the human heart"--see other people as less than themselves and become manipulators; sometimes knowingly evil, sometimes they think of themselves as doing good and noble deeds. But without -the unified sensibility, they lack respect and reverence for the human spirit and use people, however unwittingly. Among the violators in Hawthorne's works are Rappaccini, Aylmer, and Chillingworth. [...]