The Blithedale Bromance: A Queer Reading of Nathaniel Hawthorne

22 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2012

Date Written: May 10, 2010


Though the word “homosexual” did not yet exist in 1852 when The Blithedale Romance was published, its author portrayed both characters and relationships in it which clearly indicate distinctive aspects of queerness. In this romance, Hawthorne sets up a sort of “love square” in which the four main characters, Coverdale, Hollingsworth, Zenobia, and Priscilla, operate. Though the romance seems to discuss the heterosexual relationships between these men and women, there is strong evidence that erotic homosocial relationships are also at the core of the story. By reexamining some overlooked aspects of the work, we learn that the true heart of this tale of love and loss is found in the relationship between Coverdale and Hollingsworth. This tragic pair were doomed from the start because of nineteenth-century social repercussions of homosexuality, their opposing archetypes, the ways in which they act out and also repress their homosocial desire, and their relationships with Zenobia and Priscilla, particularly how they interpose these women as functional vessels of their love.

Keywords: Nathaniel Hawthorne, queer, Blithedale Romance

Suggested Citation

Bader, Christopher Kennedy, The Blithedale Bromance: A Queer Reading of Nathaniel Hawthorne (May 10, 2010). Available at SSRN: or

Christopher Kennedy Bader (Contact Author)

Saint Louis University School of Law ( email )

100 N. Tucker Blvd.
St. Louis, MO 63101
United States

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