NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE / GRETCHEN KAY SHORT
1. The Marble Faun is one of the earliest novels of Americans abroad. In your opinion, what precedent does it set, if any? Is the depiction of Italy primarily positive, or not? How significant a role does the setting play in the novel? 2. Discuss the character of Donatello. What does Hawthorne intend to convey through this character? How representative is Donatello of all Italians in the novel? Does Hawthorne glorify Donatello, or infantilize him, or both, or neither? 3. Why is Miriam in Rome? Is there any connection between the secret in her past and her presence in Italy? In your opinion, is her decision to come to Italy ultimately a fortuitous one? Why or why not? 4. How would you characterize the relationship between Miriam and Donatello? Is Miriam?s treatment of Donatello consistent through- out the novel? Are Miriam and Donatello held equally responsible for their individual transgressions? How does Hawthorne resolve this issue? Does he? 5. What are the roles of Hilda and Kenyon? In what ways do they provide a point of contrast to Miriam and Donatello? What distinction is Hawthorne making here, in your opinion? 6. What do you think is the ultimate value of the American characters? European experience? And what is the ultimate value of their visit for Donatello? Is the meeting of the cultures more of a clash, or a success? Why or why not? 7. What significance, if any, do you attach to the fact that the three American characters are artists? What role does the aesthetic play in their lives, and in the novel? How does their concern with surface and appearance inform the novel?s action?