The fundamental ideas of Brook Farm, according to Ripley, were to “combine the thinker and the worker...by opening the benefits of education and the profit of labor to all.” At Brook Farm, and as in other communities, physical labor was perceived as a condition of mental well-being and health. The farm did not become a phalanx based on Fourierism until 1845.
Brook Farm was named for the brook that ran near the roadside and that eventually went to the Charles River. It was surrounded by low hills and its meadows and sunny slopes were diversified by orchard, quiet groves and denser pine woods.
When the original founders bought the of land there was already a large farm house there, which was later called “The Hive.” The Hive became the center for social activities and was where the people of the community went to eat three meals a day.
As the community grew, it became necessary to add more buildings for lodgings and various activities. The first building constructed was “The Nest,” where school lessons took place and where guests of the farm would stay. Mr. and Mrs. Ripley's house, later to be called the Eyrie, was built during the second year. The next building to be built was Margaret Fuller's cottage. Her home, complete with three pianos, was used by Mr. Dana and other music teachers. The last building constructed was called the Plymouth house and was used for boarding pupils.
When entering the school, each pupil under high school age was assigned a woman of the community who was in charge of his/her wardrobe, personal habits, and exercise. The main teachers at the school were Mr. and Mrs. Ripley, Mr. Dwight, and Mr. Dana. Mr. Ripley was in charge of teaching English and was known to be relaxed in his class. Mr. Dana, who could communicate in ten different tongues, was in charge of teaching languages. Mr. Dwight taught music and was quite an attraction for pupils enrolling in the school. Pupils studied European languages and literature. At no extra cost, pupils could also indulge in the fine arts.
Within the school there was an infant school for children under six, a primary school for children under ten, and there was a preparatory school that prepared children for college in just six years. If anyone else wanted to take classes, elective classes were available.
The people of Brook Farm spent most of their time either studying or working the farm, but they always set aside time in the day for play. This time was spent at or participating in dancing parties, picnics, musicals, pageants, plays, and tableaux. The tableaux, in which they acted out scenes from books and plays, were the favorite of all the entertainments. Every week everyone in the community would gather at “The Hive” for a dance of the young ladies of the community. They would wear wreaths of wild daisies on top of their heads, and each week a special wreath, bought from a florist, would be given to the best dressed girl.
“My dress on this occasion was made by my mother. It was simple and was trimmed with flowers.”
Nathaniel Hawthorne was a founding member of Brook Farm and presented a fictionalized portrait of it in his novel, The Blithedale Romance. (He acknowledged the resemblance in his introduction, saying "in the 'Blithedale' of this volume, many readers will probably suspect a faint and not very faithful shadowing of Brook Farm, in West Roxbury, which (now a little more than ten years ago) was occupied and cultivated by a company of socialists.)" Some have seen a resemblance between Margaret Fuller and Hawthorne's fictional character Zenobia. In the novel, a visitor—a writer like Hawthorne—finds that hard farm labor is not conducive to intellectual creativity:
In Whit Stillman's 1990 film, Metropolitan, two characters at a party debate whether Brook Farm was a failure or simply "ceased to exist." One character, Charlie Black, ends the argument by saying that ceasing to exist is, to him, failure.
`MOON' HAS A SOME SHINE ALL SORTS OF DISCOVERIES ARE MADE IN TONY GOLDWYN'S MOVIE DIRECTORIAL DEBUT.(LIFE & LEISURE)(Movie review)
Apr 16, 1999; Byline: AMY BIANCOLLI STAFF WRITER In case you miss the metaphor crashing into your head like a block of concrete, ``A Walk on...