Mirror images and reflections in Nathaniel Hawthorne's works



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In Nathaniel Hawthorne's tales, sketches, novels, and notebooks, reflections in mirrors, pools, or other shiny surfaces frequently appear, and the sketch "Monsieur du Miroir" is entirely concerned with the mirror image. An examination of Hawthorne's numerous mirror images and reflections throughout his works shows that his ideas came from a variety of sources: folklore and folktales, magic books, Gothic novels, myths, and other literature, A magic clairvoyant mirror from which a medium could evoke spirits, common in folklore and witchcraft, occurs in Hawthorne's works, such as "Old Esther Dudley." Mirrors of vanity, suggested by the Narcissus myth, appear in such works as "Feathertop." Water nymphs, common in mythology, appear in "Vision of the Fountain" and other tales. Finally, the common experience of discovering another person by seeing his reflection in a mirror occurs in "Sketches from Memory" and two of the novels. [...]