This essay discusses Hawthorne’s Fanshawe as a forerunner to the environmental mystery, a literary subgenre with a greater environmental emphasis that shapes the course of the story and possible interpretations. Environmental mysteries focus on how a particular place impacts characters as much as they account for how a crime is committed and a case is solved. Settings are a force, human-environment relationships are central, and metaphors allude to complex and sometimes uneasy conclusions. As these three characteristics are foundational components of Fanshawe, the novel serves as a precursor to present day environmental mysteries engaging with issues such as habitat loss, environmental degradation, and global warming. Fanshawe suggests a deep connection between Hawthorne and a distinct geographical place, a protagonist who must navigate the perils of a particular environment, and memorable supporting characters who reinforce the way environmental circumstances shape identity and relate to crime. It also includes prominent natural metaphors, as well as an ending that redirects readers back to its central human-environment concern, encouraging them to reflect upon human plights in the context of challenging environmental situations.

You do not currently have access to this content.