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Hawthorne and Melville/Sub-topic:Literary Links - Images

Learning Activities Related to "Drowne's Wooden Image"

Indian figurehead
Indian figurehead (courtesy of Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA)
In "Drowne's Wooden Image," Hawthorne explores the difference between the work of an artist and an artisan through the dialogues between Drowne and John Singleton Copley and through Copley's observations. To understand why this comparison is important to Hawthorne and his ideas about the artist in America, students can do the following:

1. Compare the pictures of the ship's masthead carvings by various artisans listed below to the portrait of Sarah Erving Waldo by Copley. What differences do you see between these two art forms? What skills are needed to be able to create each of them? How do these differences in skill create distance between the creator of each?

2. Look up the words artist and artisan in the dictionary. How do their definitions suggest important differences in the assumptions made about people who are labeled one or the other?

3. Look at the conversations that take place between Drowne and Copley. How does Copley feel about Drowne's work? Why does he see the current carving as an exception to what Drowne has done in the past? How does this reveal what Copley values in an artist?

4. Hawthorne knew that New Englanders often viewed artists with skepticism or disdain. How do the comments of townsfolk or the narrator reveal this in "Drowne's Wooden Image"? How do you think someone like Drowne or Copley might feel when hearing these things?

Page citation: http://www.hawthorneinsalem.org/page/11546/

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