Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Ambitious Guest

The Ambitious Guest

Spoiler alert: you will read the ending here. It's a quick read...3280 words.

I hear this story as a teleplay, as I have heard other stories of Hawthorne's that way in my recent reading. Particularly in the last paragraph of this story, like that of Wakefield, I hear the cadences of spoken word. I expect I encounter the narrator's voice more on television than in modern short stories. Is it that stories in the past were written to be read aloud to a degree that they are not today, though teleplays are, and perhaps that is what I hear?

Whose was the agony of that death moment? Strange last line. Why whose?

More like WHAT was the agony at that death moment? We are to think it wasn't so much the agony of death, that he could bear. But dying unknown, perhaps unidentified, oh what tragedy for the youth and his ambitions.

I suppose "Whose was the agony..." is the author's sly wink and acknowledgment of his own ambitions.

There were circumstances which led some to suppose that a stranger had been received into the cottage on this awful night, and had shared the catastrophe of all its inmates.

Circumstances? Like bones?

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