Mistaking the Terrestrial Slum for the Celestial City: A Reading of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “The Celestial Railroad”

Nyaa Hans Ndah


Nathaniel Hawthorne’s allegory “The Celestial Railroad” depicts an American society in which morality and spirituality have been relegated to the background. We set out in this study to critically analyse how Hawthorne in this short story depicts the alarming extent to which terrestrial distractions especially in this modern age of industry, innovation and capitalism have instead derailed many Christians from the celestial city to the terrestrial slums of perdition, misery and destruction.  The qualitative approach was used to analyse the data collected for this study. This paper is based on the hypothesis that the quest for pleasure and the advent of industrial and technological development have drifted the Christian further away from the path of salvation as depicted in Hawthorne’s “The Celestial Railroad.” New Historicism was the theoretical lens employed for this research endeavour. This study revealed that, Hawthorne’s “The Celestial Railroad” is even more relevant in the 21st century due to the alarming extent to which Christian ideals have been violated, much more than what obtained when the story was published.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.22158/selt.v11n4p45


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