eng102 mid essay r11 submitted for study mode

Submitted By krististeph
Words: 2029
Pages: 9

Kristin Mxxxxxx
Barry Wxxxxx, PhD
1 February 2015

(Leonardo) Daguerreotypist: Renaissance Man
Traditional silver halide photography (chemically sensitized and developed) of which the daguerreotype is ancestor of incorporates many disciplines: Optics and lighting; chemistry formulation, testing, and use; mechanical skills (working in the dark); polishing -- silver plates or glass optics; logic concepts (positive-negative); as well as the artistic element. The variety of disciplines required suggest a polyhistor (polymath) education (from the Greek muse Polyhymnia meaning preserver of knowledge) typically associated with the traditional definition of a renaissance man. The good Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson was a photographer and developer, in addition to his many other interests. Even in the pedestrian reference of Wikipedia, the portrait of Louis Daguerre is done by a real life renaissance man- Jean Baptist Biot., himself a physicist, astronomer, mathematician, and musician. This idea of the Renaissance Man, the renaissance ideal personified by Leonardo DaVinci, lives on through the character Holgrave in the house of the seven gables. Holgrave contrasts Hepzibah primarily, in terms of social engagement, and the Pyncheons in general- offering definition by negative analogy. But of what reference to the Pyncheons would this ideal man, this renaissance ideal, this DaVinci –minded Matthew Maule of Boston be? One must consider the use of light and dark, the contrasts, used by the daguerreotypist himself, as well as the myriad symbolisms throughout Hawthorne’s work: The daguerreotypist is the contrast- the antithesis- the antipode- of the old Pyncheon ways of hoarding money and power, and of using others to do their work or create worth. Jaffery can be seen either as the recurrence (or possibly the culmination?) of the Pyncheon criminal element. If taken as a recurrence, this new technology of the daguerreotype is analogous to the portraits surrounding the old Pyncheons. Perhaps it is the fact the Jaffery has been captured by this new technology (after his death) whereas his antecedents were inaccurately captured by artistic rendition:
“This powerful comparison is a recurring element in Hawthorne’s novel The House of the Seven Gables, where he uses the early daguerreotype photographic technology. Dinius believes that the daguerreotype, which would show its developed yet primitive image on a silver plate, ‘singularly materialized the dialectics of romance and reality,’ which is one of Hawthorne’s objectives for the novel, according to his introduction (Dingus 66). Hawthorne takes this technology and presents it in opposition to the painted portrait to show how an image can both conceal and reveal truth.” (Collett 219)

This student (Sandow) likens the “romance” to the old ways and family legends, and the “reality” to the understanding brought upon by the Age of Enlightenment (17th to 19th century arguably) and the Renaissance (European, 14th to 17th century) in general. Cries of witchcraft die to science- the stealing of someone’s soul by photography explained by the science of optics and light (not to mention the effects of mercury and other heavy metals on the brain).
Of course Hawthorne provides so much material that one should be able to interpret this in any manner one chooses, there exists the wealth of others who have also done- John Dolis of the University of Kansas does so thusly:
“Holgrave’s willingness to challenge the existent derives from this belief, and the attendant belief in the absolute disclosability of nature. His naïve trust in the ability of light to elucidate the truth of the world equally sustains his confidence in its transparency…
… Holgrave’s [initial] daguerreotype of Judge Pyncheon, despite numerous efforts to make it more agreeable, similarly reveals the judge as a morally despicable person.”(Dolis 269)

Hawthorne is telling us that Holgrave’s (Maule’s)