He listens to conversations, watches Hollingsworth and Zenobia together, and flaunts their relationship in Priscilla's face, when it is clear she loves Hollingsworth. In this, he is selfish, just as he has accused the others of being, and he uses the others in a sort of voyeuristic way. In addition, Coverdale, even though he is the narrator of the story, seems removed from it somehow. He does not understand the relationship between Zenobia, Priscilla, and Hollingsworth, and he is kept at arms distance by many of the characters. He is remote and removed, and perhaps this is how Hawthorne felt after his stint at Brook Farm, and why he was so disillusioned with his time there. It seems that others felt the attempt would fail, and finally, so did he. He seems to be pointing a finger at those who hoped for "Utopia" to say that it cannot exist, and that hopes for it are futile. Later in the book Coverdale thinks to himself, "I remember our beautiful scheme of a noble and unselfish life; and how fair, in that first summer, appeared the prospect that it might endure for generations, and be perfected, as the ages rolled away, into the system of a people and a world!"
Hawthorne 285). He wanted the dream to work, and it seems Hawthorne wanted and hoped the dream would work, but the real truth is, people get in the way of dreams, just as they got in the way of the dream of Blithedale. Coverdale was in the dark about many of the people around him, who brought their own backgrounds and baggage to the commune, and so, he was somewhat like an outsider looking in, even though he lived and worked there. Hawthorne may well have suffered the same treatment, and embittered, he wrote this book to point out the foibles of man's noblest ideas.
Near the end of the book, Zenobia leaves the commune, and states, "But I am weary of this place, and sick to death of playing at philanthropy and progress. Of all varieties of mock-life, we have surely blundered into the very emptiest mockery, in our effort to establish the one true system. I have done with it'" (Hawthorne 264-265). Now, the grand experiment is reduced to nothing more than a game, and Coverdale has missed the most important part, just as he was in the dark for so long about the true relationships between the people. For a poet, he is not too observant, and as a man, he is not too sharp. Perhaps Hawthorne felt these things about himself, and that his attempts at writing were as fraudulent as the experience at Blithedale is for the narrator of this disturbing story. Ultimately, Hawthorne's outlook is bleak. He finds death a nothingness that is a waste and a travesty of life. In addition, indeed, Coverdale's life has been like a walking death. He has accomplished nothing, loved the only person he could never have, and spent his years alone and without passion or purpose. Thus, when the romantic ideals fail, there is nothing left to hope for, and nothing left to live for.
In conclusion, the real message of this book comes out in Coverdale's telling of the story. The people are not really suited for communal living, and the experiment fails. These people bring their own backgrounds, their own heartbreak, and their own emotional baggage to an experiment, and end up ruining it for everyone. As the leaders, they are not exemplary, they are in fact flawed, and their flaws are bigger than the experiment. Hawthorne's romantic ideals of the perfect life were obviously shattered at Brook Farm, and his novel about his experiences seems to take the worst of his experiences and lay them out for the reader to see, and make their own decision about these communal experiments, and if they did more harm than good. His ideas of peace and purpose give way to death and meaningless existence. It seems that as much as he wanted the experiment at Blithedale to work, he somehow knew man is doomed to failure, and meaningless existence stretching toward meaningless death, especially when it is perpetrated by selfish people more in tune with their own motives than those of the group.