The Blithedale Romance is the story of four principal characters who work with -- and sometimes against -- each other on Blithedale, a communal farm antecedent to those that sprang up later in the 1960s, and similar to one on which Hawthorne himself lived in 1841. These communes arose out of the pressures on society and the individual brought by the Industrial Revolution. Some were organized around religious philosophies, some were secular. Among the secularists, the Transcendental movement mentioned in the novel espoused the idea that the individual's intuition, rather than religious dogma, was the true path to spiritual enlightenment. Our four characters, like so many who fled to these communes, struggle to free mankind from bondage as they struggle with the unaccustomed day-to-day tasks of farm life. But they are plagued by a mystery that follows them from the world, and ultimately leads to tragedy.