“Earn It with the Sweat of My Brow”: Essential Labor and Survival in The Blithedale Romance focuses on the dynamics of class struggle and essential labor within the utopian community in Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Blithedale Romance. The article argues that at the center of all of the novel's failure and tragedy is a negotiation of labor and class. Informed by the coronavirus pandemic, the article focuses on instances in the novel wherein Miles Coverdale, the narrator, filters his viewpoint of labor on the farm through the lens of a “mist of fever.” In this mist of fever, Coverdale is able to acknowledge his own lack of commitment to labor on the farm as well as his reinforcement of class struggle through a degradation of working-class characters such as Silas Foster. The article is informed by a close reading that attends to the instances in which Coverdale withdraws from labor and deploys his clairvoyant vision; thus, the performative nature of labor on the farm is thrown into stark relief and Coverdale's own lack of commitment is revealed.

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