Mesmerism was a popular form of entertainment in the 18th and 19th centuries. At the time, people believed that one could use natural energy to put another person in a trance (sort of like hypnosis) that would allow them to speak to the dead, predict the future, read minds, heal themselves, find lost objects, and more. Many people would pay to see mesmerism in action—one person (typically called a mesmerist or magician) would put another person in a trance and then that person might answer audience questions, start sharing messages from the afterlife, or perform some other seemingly miraculous feat. Like many other people, Nathaniel Hawthorne was very critical of mesmerism.
Mesmerism Term Timeline in The Blithedale Romance
The timeline below shows where the term Mesmerism appears in The Blithedale Romance. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1: Old Moodie