Sunday, May 22, 2011

Discussion Forum 1b or assignment #2

Questions of the week:

How does setting influence artists? Can setting serve as muse? What does Emerson’s house say about that author? Why did the Old Manse inspire both Emerson and Hawthorne? Describe Hawthorne’s The Wayside. What does the house reflect about the man? The artist?

My Answer and posts from other’s about my answer:

As I sit out in my beautiful Green backyard I feel peaceful and serene, the waterfall is making a small trickling noise, three blue jays are eating from the bird feeder and all seems right with the world- my thoughts are flowing smoothly helping me to write what I need to- then along comes a speeding loud bullet of a train- whistle blaring not more than 5 blocks away and I feel as if my writing has become more sporadic, my thoughts more hectic and the moment of fluidity has past. This is how setting influences an artist. I believe that setting such as being in my backyard, the woods, a peaceful spot on the beach in the early morning can help your "moments" to flow- your thoughts are like a prayer being said- your minds is at peace so the words come not haltingly but flowing. Our minds tend to dream up anything, but to make it more realistic, our surroundings will push that dream to paper if we but listen to that muse. Do all Authors/ Artist have to be in Paris to write about Paris? No, but we as readers fall in love with a book faster, harder when the author actually writes about places they have visited and things they know about, somehow we sense these things in their writing. I imagine if I was sitting at the "Old Manse" upstairs with the Concord River flowing serenely by my thoughts would be the same. If I was sitting at "The Wayside" where it is a little darker, drearier and lonelier, I would write a little more depressingly.

Both Emerson and Hawthorne lived in the Old Manse, this home affected them both in different ways. Emerson was born in this home, His family heard and saw the first shots of a revolutionary war begin at this home and I would think that this was the foundation to how Emerson writing style began, he wrote like a true patriot, and a religious man and this house reminds me of that. Hawthorne, on the other hand, started his married life here and in all that I've read about him and his wife Sophie they were a happy, loving couple, so besides the influence of the beauty around him, he also was feeling beauty from within with the love he felt surrounding him. Hawthorne never loved The Wayside as much as The Old Manse, and as a person who has lived in a home of my own, that I truly loved (Victorian styled by the way,) you can NEVER replace that home even if you try, some of your soul is left in that house that you can never regain back. Hawthorne, wroteMosses from an Old Manse while living in this home. Obviously the setting of this land, and the love he felt in this house was his muse for this novel.

I know a lot about The Wayside house because it was home to 2 of my favorite American children’s authors Louisa May Alcott and Margaret Sidney. The Wayside from its description, it’s pictures and what I have read reminds me of the house in Harry Potter that the Weasley’s lived in, bits and pieces added here and there where ever it suited the owners. In my mind’s eye I see this house differently than how Hawthorne felt while living in it. The few years that he lived in it was a great time for his family, but he tended to seclude himself unless the people he felt comfortable with were visiting. I believe that this seclusion dampened his mood, and thus affected his writing. To me it is apropos that Hawthorne would build a Tower on this house; helping him banish himself whenever a deep mood would strike him, or he needed the influence of the view of his immediate property to help in his writing. I, on the other hand always felt like this house was loving, warm, and caring because of how I felt about the people who lived in the house before and after Hawthorne. To me, there is beauty to the surroundings, the house is large, yes, dark because it was blended into the nature surrounding it, but brightly painted and stately and as Ms. Alcott described in Little Women had an attic where the girls would practice their plays before performing them for Marmie. I find it curious that most books written in this house were for Children and Mr. Hawthorne did not let me down in that aspect. He wrote Tanglewood Tales here. Because of the numerous additions that Mrs. And Mr. Hawthorne placed on The Wayside, I can only believe that their lives might have been as chaotic the house looks from the back. There were additions being made the whole 5 years that the Hawthorne’s collectively lived in the house. I can’t imagine that while Hawthorne was writing during this time that the noise didn’t affect his writing which is why he really only wrote and published one book there. He wrote short stories, he wrote The Dolliver Romance while living there, but he never finished it or the other works he was doing, such as Septimius Felton, 1, which The Wayside served as a muse for.

1. Intro:Hawthorne, Nathanial. "Septimius Felton; or, The Elixir of Life, by Nathaniel Hawthorne." Project Gutenberg - free ebooks online download for iPad, Kindle, Nook, Android, iPhone, iPod Touch, Sony Reader. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 May 2011. <

Ingoglia, Michele



What an interesting post!  I very much appreciate your descriptive example of setting as muse!  Your post provides us all with extra information which assists in discovering the author's purpose, explains his tone and some of the conflicts incurred while he was writing, as well as provides history to assist in explaining his worldview.  It is amazing how different residents of the same home can have such contrary feelings and memories!  Louisa May Alcott is also one of my favorites!  I look forward to future communications!  Thanks for listening!

Cole, Alisha



I enjoyed your comparison of The Wayside house to that of the Weasley's dwelling in Harry Potter.  Perhaps the writer of Harry Potter had heard or seen that house once before and it became inspiration for that particular home in her stories.  If that is, indeed, the case, that would be just one more instance in which the theory that location gives inspiration was proven to ring true.  Also, I found it amazing that these particular homes were lived in by so many famous artists.  In today's world, that usually does not happen.  Perhaps they kept the houses among talented writers, because they did, indeed, give place to the muse and aided in an author's success.

my response to Ms. Cole’s comments:


That is a very interesting point about J.K. Rowling and being influence questionably by The Wayside. I am really curious to research out what did influence her besides Greek Mythology and British Lore and her wonderful surroundings. I mean, just like Dr. Robison asked- How does Setting serve as Muse. Do you think that Harry would’ve gone to a boarding school had she written this book in the States? 

This is my own feelings, but I think that back when Emerson and Hawthorne, Margaret Sidney, Bronson Alcott, Louisa May Alcott lived, the writers (as Dr. Robison suggests,) had such an influence on each other that to be part of their Society (whether Transcendentalist or just writers in general since I don't believe Margaret Sidney was a Transcendentalist.) you just traded houses or in Emerson's case since he was wealthy shared property with your friends. I would think (like you said,) that you would just naturally surround yourself  with like-minded people to help you reach your true potential, Hence the reason Painters some times live in Art Colonies.

I look forward to more discussions with you!

I really love this online class, but I do miss the personal interaction of a classroom setting!  It’s too bad, Dr. Robison doesn’t teach this one on campus!


Old Manse- home to Emerson and Hawthorne   wayside home to Louisa May Alcott, Hawthorne and Margaret Sidney

The Old Manse and The Wayside

Teacher’s response

Dear Sandy,

This is an exemplary posting that shows keen insight, sensibility regarding artists/writers, and an understanding of the correlation between setting and muse.  I enjoyed reading it so much and look forward to future postings.


Dr. R.

and another 5 points! I think I am not playing fair…