Spring 1953 • Vol. XV No. 2 NonfictionApril 1, 1953 |

Baby and Butterfly

The climactic scene of Hawthorne's "The Artist of the Beautiful" is of course the last, in which Owen Warland, after much disappointment and solitary labor, brings his mechanical butterfly as a bridal gift to the parlor of Robert Danforth, where he is confronted with the child that Danforth and Warland's old sweetheart, Annie Hovenden, have produced between them. On the one hand is Danforth, "man of iron . . . his massive substance thoroughly warmed and attempered by domestic influences"; Annie, "a matron, with much of her husband's plain and sturdy nature"; and the baby, "a young child of strength" that extraordinarily resembles Annie's father, the skeptic watchmaker Peter Hovenden: on the other, quite alone, is Warland, bearing in his hands the little ebony box. This is a symbolic meeting between art and life. The dénouement is swift and violent, yet not without its equivocations: while the artist looks on "placidly at what seemed the ruin of his life's labor, and which was y

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