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My Kinsman, Major Molineux

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on 13 January 2015

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Transcript of My Kinsman, Major Molineux

Robin vs Boston (external):
When Robin discovers the crowd of civilians, with the tarred-and-feathered Major Molineux, the crowd laughs. Ironically, Robin laughs loudest of all. His loud laughing, with the crowd, shows Robin has lost faith in the major. The conflict is resolved when Robin understands that the people of Boston were so reluctant to help him, because he portrayed himself as a supporter of someone they despised. “The contagion was spreading among the multitude, when, all at once, it seized upon Robin, and he sent forth a shout of laughter that echoed through the street; every man shook his sides, every man emptied his lungs, but Robin's shout was the loudest there.” (Hawthorne 111)
My Kinsman, Major Molineux
Aavo Reinvald, Ashish Dahal, Neil McNair, Paul Lorenc
Plot
Synopsis:
A young youth named Robin arrives in the city of Boston with hopes of finding Major Molineux and receiving the Major's financial help. While searching around the city for the Major's residence, Robin encounters unfriendly townspeople who spurn his pleas for aid. Robin finally understands his situation when he sees the Major in the middle of a mob, tarred and feathered.

Major Events:

1) Robin arrives in Boston and encounters hostility when trying to find the whereabouts of Maj. Molineux. He is given threats of imprisonment after encountering an old man, individuals at a Tavern, and a night watchman.

“If this be the respect you show your betters, your feet shall be brought acquainted with the stocks, by daylight, tomorrow morning!” (Hawthorne 98)

Discussion Questions
Were the townspeople justified in treating Robin with scorn? Why?
Will Robin ultimately stay in the city, or will he return home? Support your response.
What is the significance of Robin's laughter being the loudest out of the crowd?
Why does the man who waits with Robin on the church step decide to help him? What does this say about human nature?
Did Robin change for better or for worse?
Thank you!
Plot (cont'd.)
Resolutions
Conflicts
Robin vs Boston (external):
The most prevalent conflict is between Robin and the people of Boston, who refuse to help him find the dwelling of Major Molineux. “‘Let go of my garment, fellow! I tell you, I know not the man you speak of....’” (Hawthorne 98).
Major Molineux vs Boston (external):
Although it is not unveiled until the final paragraphs of the story, one of the reasons that the majority of the civilians of Boston were so opposed to helping Robin, is because they are opposed to helping the major, someone who, supposedly, supported British rule in the colonies. “There the torches blazed the brightest, there the moon shone out like day, and there, in tar-and-feathery dignity, sat his kinsman Major Molineux!” (Hawthorne 110)
Conflicts (cont'd.)
Robin vs Individuality (internal):
Robin comes to Boston in hopes of finding the major, who will help him start a new life, and become an individual. When Robin discovers that the major is a supporter of British rule and is hated by the community, he loses faith in the major, and severs his dependency on him, in turn, becoming an individual. Robin considers returning home (losing his individuality), but is told to stay (and keep his individuality) by the man who waited for him. “‘Will you be kind enough to show me the way to the ferry?’ said he...” (Hawthorne 111). “Or, if you prefer to remain with us, perhaps, as you are a shrewd youth, you may rise in the world, without the help of your kinsman, Major Molineux.” (Hawthorne 111)
Resolutions (cont'd.)
Major Molineux vs Boston (external):
The conflict between Major Molineux and the people of Boston is resolved when they capture him and tar-and-feather him. Prior to this event, the people of Boston never were able to satisfy their hate for the major, only talk about it and express it through their emotions. This event allows for the angry civilians to satisfy their hate, and allows for Robin to lose his faith in the major. “There the torches blazed the brightest, there the moon shone out like day, and there, in tar-and-feathery dignity, sat his kinsman Major Molineux!” (Hawthorne 110)
Resolutions (cont'd.)

Robin vs Individuality (internal):
Robin’s internal conflict between himself and individuality is never settled. When he discovers the tarred-and-feathered Major Molineux, the conflict only intensifies, because Robin begins to further question his individuality. He decides that he wants to go home (lose his individuality) but the man who waited with him tries to convince him to stay in Boston. Robin’s final choice is never explicitly stated, and therefore the conflict is not resolved. “‘Will you be kind enough to show me the way to the ferry?’ said he...” (Hawthorne 111). “Or, if you prefer to remain with us, perhaps, as you are a shrewd youth, you may rise in the world, without the help of your kinsman, Major Molineux.” (Hawthorne 111)
Setting
This short story is based in Boston, Massachusetts during colonial America, circa 1730. The time is around nine o’clock at night.




The setting plays a major part in contributing to one of the main conflicts of the story (Major Molineux vs Boston). Due to the time and the place, the townspeople have prejudice towards the Major for his position in the British Government. Also, the setting is new and mysterious to Robin, and he does not know where to find the Major, which also adds to the conflict. The dark and desolate streets add to the gloomy tone and mood.
Characterization
Vocabulary
Vocabulary (cont'd.)
Theme
Overcoming adversity through growth and maturity:
The process of coming of age and growing includes having to deal with all types of people and will change one’s point of view and ideologies. As soon as Robin departs the ferry, he is challenged by the unfamiliar urban setting of Boston and desperately hopes to find Major Molineux. Robin encounters people who refuse to help him multiple times. He is clearly an outlier in the story. Ironically, by the end of the novel, Robin has made a friend, the man who waited with him, and has completely lost faith in the major. The events that occurred in Boston, in turn, matured Robin
"Let go of my garment, fellow! I tell you, I know not the man you speak of...” (Hawthorne 98).
“Left the house of the subscriber, bounden servant, Hezekiah Mudge--had on, when he went away, gray coat, leather breeches, master's third best hat. One pound currency reward to whosoever shall lodge him in any jail of the province.' Better trudge, boy, better trudge!” (Hawthorne 100)
“Home, vagabond, home! Home, or we'll set you in the stocks by peep of day!” (Hawthorne 103)
“Well, my good lad, why are you sitting here? Can I be of service to you in any way?” (Hawthorne 107)
“His cheek was somewhat pale, and his eye not quite as lively as in the earlier part of the evening.
“‘Will you be kind enough to show me the way to the ferry?’ said he...” (Hawthorne 111).
Themes (cont'd.)
The Human Desire for Identity and Independence
: To become and individual and discover one’s identity, one must get out of their comfort zone. Robin arrives in Boston to find Major Molineux, but also to declare himself as an individual and find his own identity. Robin originally seeks to find the major so that he can become an individual with the support of the major. To find the major, Robin endures a quest saturated with bizarre encounters with multiple people who refuse to be of any help. Ironically, when the major is finally discovered by Robin and he laughs with the crowd, Robin severs his ties and dependency with/on with the major, and, in turn, declares his individuality. At this point, Robin has the choice of returning to his family and taking up his old identity (and lose his newly found individualism), or stay in Boston and live with his new identity. Identity also is thematic for the townspeople and the major. They punish him because he, supposedly, showed support of British rule.
“...it was therefore determined that Robin should profit by his kinsman's generous intentions, especially as he seemed to be rather the favorite, and was thought to possess other necessary endowments.” (Hawthorne 107)
“There the torches blazed the brightest, there the moon shone out like day, and there, in tar-and-feathery dignity, sat his kinsman Major Molineux!” (Hawthorne 110)
“‘Will you be kind enough to show me the way to the ferry?’ said he” (Hawthorne 111)
Tone and Mood
Literary Devices
Literary Movement
Propriety (Hawthorne 101)
: (n.) conformity to established standards of good or proper behavior or manners,
Synonyms
: decorum, morality, rectitude;
Antonyms:
discord, lawlessness
Origin
: 1427-1475; from Late Middle English
propriete
‘ownership’, from French
propriete
, from Latin
proprietas
‘quality, property’, equivalent to
propri
(us) ‘proper’ +
-etas
(variant, after vowels, of -itas’) ‘-ity’ (dictionary.reference.com and Wiktionary)

Variegated (Hawthorne 109):
(adj.) varied in appearance or color; marked with patches or spots of different colors
Synonyms:
polychromatic, kaleidoscopic, prismatic, varied;
Antonyms:
unvaried, monochrome, plain
Origin:
mid 17th century; from Latin
variegat-
‘made varied’ (from the verb
variegare
, from
varius
‘diverse’); Suffix: “-ed” creates past participle of verbs to form adjectives (dictionary.reference.com and Google Define)

Inebriety (Hawthorne 110):
(n.) the state of being befuddled, or drunk
Synonyms:
drunkenness, intoxication, elation;
Antonyms:
sobriety, temperance, soberness
Origin:
1780-90; “in-” + obsolete ebriety < Latin
ebrietas
, equivalent to
ebri
(us) ‘drunk’ +
-etas
(variant, after vowels, of -itas’) ‘-ity’; Root: ebriety, ‘drunkenness’; Prefix: “in-” (dictionary.reference.com)
Cachinnation (Hawthorne 110):
(n.) a loud or immoderate laugh
Synonyms:
hilarity, guffaw, cackle;
Antonyms:
none found
Origin:
1620s; from cachinnate + “-ion” ‘an action or process’; cachinnate <from Latin participle
cachinnat-
, from
cachinnare
‘to laugh aloud’) (dictionary.reference.com, Online Etymology Dictionary, and Wiktionary)

Potentate (Hawthorne 111):
(n.) a person who possesses great power, as a sovereign, monarch, or ruler,
Synonyms:
despot, chieftain;
Antonyms:
servant
Origin:
1350-1400; from Latin
potentatus
‘dominion’ (from the adjective potent- ‘being able or powerful’); Suffix: "-ate” ‘a thing characterised by the specified thing’ (dictionary.reference.com, Google Define, and Wiktionary)
The story shows aspects of American Romanticism
Romanticism puts an emphasis on nature, which is done in the short story. Robin, a country boy, is so disheartened by the dark, gloomy, and evil Boston, that he considers going back to the countryside that is lush with nature. Hawthorne is putting such a dark emphasis on Boston to contrast it with the country and nature.
The hostility of the city people towards both Robin and Major Molineux again emphasizes the “evil” of an urban setting
“But the streets were empty, the shops were closed, and lights were visible only in the second stories of a few wellinghouses.” (Hawthorne 98)
The negativity of the people towards both Robin and Major Molineux are added to the story to again emphasize the “evil” of an urban setting
“Let go of my garment, fellow! I tell you, I know not the man you speak of....” (Hawthorne 98).
The overall mood of the story is dark and somber. The unfavorable treatment that the protagonist receives creates a negative atmosphere.
Additionally, Hawthorne’s word choice helps to establish the mood.

“The streets lay before him, strange and desolate, and the lights were extinguished in almost every house.” (Hawthorne 103)

The story has a grim tone. The author ensures that the protagonist does not achieve his initial goal. Additionally, by incorporating punishments (the tar and feathering) for one of his characters, Hawthorne is expressing his serious attitude towards the story.






2. Robin meets the horrific looking man from the Inn again, who tells him that the Major will appear within an hour.
"Watch here an hour, and the Major Molineux will pass by" (pg. 104)

3. On the steps of the church, Robin finally encounters an individual who sympathizes with his situation. This new friend gives Robin guidance for the remainder of the night.
"I bear you company...you must not expect all the stillness of your native woods here" (pg. 109)

4. Robin finally sees Major Molineux, but realizes that he has been tarred and feathered. Instead of sympathizing with his kinsman, Robin "sent forth a burst of laughter...the loudest of them all" (pg. 111).
Allusion:
"...a man, who, like the Moonshine of Pyramus and Thisbe, carried a lantern, needlessly aiding his sister..." (Hawthorne 103).
Hawthorne's allusion to Shakespeare's play A Midsummer Night's Dream highlights the foolishness of mankind; the man and woman perform a parody of the play.

Symbolism:
"Under his left arm was a heavy cudgel, formed of an oak sapling, and retaining a part of the hardened root..." (Hawthorne 97).
The oak cudgel serves as a symbol of Robin's rural background. Similar to how the cudgel retains its root, Robin retains a part of his background.

Irony:
"But the streets were empty, the shops were closed, and the lights were visible only in the second stories of a few dwellinghouses." (Hawthorne 98)
The description of the town can be interpreted as a peaceful one. However, the town is truly at unrest when it seeks to capture Major Molineux.
Protagonist
: Robin plays the role of Protagonist as he is the main character that the reader is introduced to in the short story. Furthermore, Robin is the central driving force of the the story's plot: he wants to search for the Major in order to receive an inheritance he was promised.

Robin is also a
round
,
dynamic character
because he changes over the course of the story. He goes from a character who respects the Major, to being an individual who laughs in the Major's face. Robin's self conflicts showcase his round personality.

Major Molineux is a static character because he does not change within the story.

Setting
This short story is based in Boston, Massachusetts during colonial America, circa 1730. The time is around nine o’clock at night.

This Colonial America setting is responsible for the tension between Maj. Molineux and the townspeople.


The townspeople are the
main antagonists
within the story. They are hostile to the protagonist, Robin, and prevent him from fulfilling his desire to meet Major Molineux.

These individuals are also
flat, static characters
. They are very one dimensional- they seemingly hold just a vengeful personality trait. These individuals also do not change- for instance, the deformed man from the inn still acted hostile towards Robin.
Characterization (cont.)
Full transcript