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Monsieur du Miroir (From "Mosses from an Old Manse")   By: (1804-1864)

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Monsieur du Miroir, a short story from Nathaniel Hawthorne's collection Mosses from an Old Manse, is a mesmerizing tale that explores themes of identity, perception, and the haunting power of art. Hawthorne's distinctive writing style, characterized by its rich symbolism and introspective narrative, creates an immersive reading experience that is both thought-provoking and emotionally resonant.

The story revolves around the enigmatic character of Monsieur du Miroir, a renowned painter whose stunning portraits possess an uncanny ability to reflect the true essence of their subjects. With a mirror as his primary tool, Monsieur du Miroir captures not only their physical appearance but also their innermost thoughts and emotions. Through his art, he enables others to see themselves with newfound clarity, often leading to profound introspection and personal transformations.

Hawthorne skillfully weaves together the threads of various narratives, all interconnected through the transformative power of Monsieur du Miroir's art. The author's exploration of the blurred boundaries between reality and illusion adds layers of complexity to the storyline. As readers, we are left questioning the nature of truth and the limits of perception. Is Monsieur du Miroir's mirror a portal to deeper truths or merely a tool for self-deception?

The characters in Monsieur du Miroir are vividly drawn, each uniquely affected by their interaction with the painter's mirror. From a young woman confronting her true desires to an elderly man grappling with the weight of his past, they all undergo profound journeys of self-discovery that are both enlightening and unsettling. Hawthorne's masterful portrayal of their psychological transformations adds depth to the narrative, making it more than just a simple story of painted reflections.

Moreover, the themes explored in Monsieur du Miroir resonate beyond the pages of the story, inviting readers to reflect on the power of perception in their own lives. How well do we truly know ourselves? To what extent do we project our own desires and fears onto others? These are the questions that linger long after the story concludes, challenging readers to examine their own perceptions and assumptions.

Monsieur du Miroir is an elegant and captivating tale that showcases Hawthorne's ability to penetrate the depths of the human psyche. With its exquisite prose, intriguing characters, and profound themes, this short story leaves a lasting impact on its readers. It serves as a reminder that art, in all its forms, has the power to illuminate the hidden corners of our souls and reshape our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.

First Page:


By Nathaniel Hawthorne


Than the gentleman above named, there is nobody, in the whole circle of my acquaintance, whom I have more attentively studied, yet of whom I have less real knowledge, beneath the surface which it pleases him to present. Being anxious to discover who and what he really is, and how connected with me, and what are to be the results to him and to myself of the joint interest which, without any choice on my part, seems to be permanently established between us, and incited, furthermore, by the propensities of a student of human nature, though doubtful whether Monsieur du Miroir have aught of humanity but the figure, I have determined to place a few of his remarkable points before the public, hoping to be favored with some clew to the explanation of his character. Nor let the reader condemn any part of the narrative as frivolous, since a subject of such grave reflection diffuses its importance through the minutest particulars; and there is no judging beforehand what odd little circumstance may do the office of a blind man's dog among the perplexities of this dark investigation; and however extraordinary, marvellous, preternatural, and utterly incredible some of the meditated disclosures may appear, I pledge my honor to maintain as sacred a regard to fact as if my testimony were given on oath and involved the dearest interests of the personage in question... Continue reading book >>

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