William Hill Brown: Contribution as American Novelist

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      William Hill Brown’s The Power of Sympathy (1789) is the first American novel, was published anonymously. To begin with it was originally attributed to the Boston writer Sarah Wentworth Morton because it deals with a contemporary scandal of incest and suicide in the Morton family. It was not until 1894 that Brown also Boston, was recognized as the author. An epistolary romance its didactic purpose is announced in the Preface: "To Expose the dangerous Consequences of Seduction and set forth the Advantages of Female Education". The main plot deals with a threatened incestuous marriage between two main characters - Hamngton and Harriet Fawcett. They are both the children of the elder Harrington, the first by his legitimate marriage and the second, by his mistress, Maria. When the relationship is discovered; Harriet dies of shock and sadness. Harrington commits suicide. The novel like other novels, places the fate of woman at the center of the narrative. The didactic purpose is conspicuously felt by the readers.

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