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Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864): A Romantic Novelist and Short Story Author Anchored in Puritanical Roots

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Brooke Dobson

on 15 October 2018

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Transcript of Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864): A Romantic Novelist and Short Story Author Anchored in Puritanical Roots

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Personal Life
Judge Hathorne was his ancestor. He persecuted witches and Quakers during the Salem Witch trials
Distant Puritanical Relations
Born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachussets
His father was a sea captain who died in Dutch Guiana when Hawthorne was 4; this made for a lonely life
He was lamed by a boyhood accident, playing "bat and ball". He was bedridden for a year even though physicians couldn't determine what was wrong, which resulted in him becoming an avid reader, influencing his writing career.
Graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine. This is where he met the poet, Longfellow, and Franklin Pierce, who later became President.
Educated Man
A Romantic Novelist and Short Story Author Anchored in his Puritanical Roots
Because of being haunted by Puritanical roots, he feared his literary pursuits were not considered serious work;.
Spent 12 years in seclusion to perfect his writing
He worked in the Boston Custom House to save money to marry Sophia Peabody and married her in 1842, which brought him the happiest years of his life.
The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850, gave him financial security and he became the first professional writer.
He was an introvert and uneasy in large social gatherings
Edgar Allan Poe
Travels in New England
Obsessed with the sins of his ancestors who reflected religious intolerance of the Puritans.
Herman Melville - Dedicated Moby Dick to Hawthorne because he admired the "power of blackness" in Hawthorne's writing.
Henry Longfellow
Reaction to the Transcendentalists
The Romantics
Poe and Hawthorne were considered "dark" Romantics
Romanticism is characterized by valuing feeling over reason
places faith in inner experiences and the imagination
Finding truth and beauty in the supernatural realm
"Right brain" perspective of life
high value placed on truth discovered in nature.
They "mingle the marvelous" in their work
Writing is characterized by the strange and mysterious and use of the symbolic imagination. They turn to the past for subject matter.
They believe they can discover moral truth in nature.
Characters are tormented and passionate in their pursuit of either good or evil. They are complex in their ambiguity.
Themes and Styles
Struggle between Puritan philosophy and broader, more humane instincts
Examination of evil and the nature of sin - the eternal question "What is sin?"
Presentation of the psychological effects of sin - Hawthorne analyzes the human mind like a psychologist and not a moralist
Ambigous meanings and shifty narrators. Hawthorne intentionally leaves his work open to mulitple interpretations of meaning, which often leaves a reader disconcerted.
He uses imagery to create mood and emphasize his ideas.
Pay attention to:
Plant life
darkness and lightness
civilization versus nature/ forests
the meaning of physionygmy
daytime versus nightime
science versus nature
Thoreau and Emerson were his friends.
Transcendtalists believed that each human is innately divine, that God's essence lies within all individuals.
They rely on sensory experience and believe rational thought may impede acquisition of transcendtal truths.

Hawthorne believed they were too optimistic.
Full transcript