Hawthorne Author Nathaniel Hawthorne's Literary Works Constantly Essay

Download this Essay in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Essay:

Hawthorne

Author Nathaniel Hawthorne's literary works constantly reference ideas of the supernatural and the religious ideas of the Puritans who colonized the United States. Of particular interest to Hawthorne is how these two things work together in that time period. Many of Nathaniel Hawthorne's works take place in Colonial times, a good century before the author himself was born. His own ancestors were active participants in Puritan society, even serving as judges during the Salem Witch Trials. Scholars have argued that Hawthorne's work heavily features this time because of the guilt he felt over the actions of his relatives. Nathaniel Hawthorne used this historical setting to create moral points about Puritanical society and the hypocrisy of those times, as well as the continued hypocrisy of his own time period. This hypocrisy is linked back to the religious zealousness of the Puritan times where the beliefs of the church superseded all others. A man's life was entirely devoted to church and the teachings of the Bible were paramount in his life. Every action was dictated by the Bible and the word of the town preacher and the town elders was akin to the word of God. In three of his stories, "Young Goodman Brown," "Rappaccini's Daughter," and "The Minister's Black Veil" Hawthorne uses the supernatural to tell his stories about hypocrisy and the trouble that religious zealotry can have when it comes in between man and his sense of logic.

In the short story "Young Goodman Brown," written in 1854, the title character goes out into the woods to test his dedication to God and his church by going on a trek with the Devil. He literally and figuratively leaves behind his Faith as he goes on his nighttime journey. Faith is Brown's religious beliefs and his trust in God and the Bible. It is also Brown's young bride who is the embodiment of all his religious devotions and the choice he has made to become a member of the Protestant community. Brown promises that after this one night of indulging in sin, he will forever after be a devoted member of the church and an equally devoted father. "After this one night, I'll cling to her skirts and follow her to Heaven." While on his walk with the wicked traveler, Brown comes across many of the men and women he knows from the Puritan township, even the woman who taught him his catechism. The devil swears that they all have signed his book and that each one has committed an act against the church and thus they have all kept his company. All the members of the church, historical figures, even Hawthorne's ancestors exist in the shadows of the forest, reflecting the evils that have been done by mankind since the beginnings. Even his wife Faith, the embodiment of what he believed to be pure and holy, is among the group of Puritan citizens at the meeting of sinners that is taking place in the center of the woods. Hawthorne does not let the reader know for a fact if the events that Brown has recently witnessed were true or if the things that he saw in the woods were merely the result of a fevered imagination. Brown is a man who refuses to see that there is wickedness in his own self and instead he casts all the other people that he knows in the roles of sinners. What is factual in the text is that Brown awakens in the wood the next morning and is forever altered by the night before. "When the minister spoke from the pulpit, with power and fervid eloquence, and with his hand on the open Bible, of the sacred truths of our religion, and of saint-like and triumphant deaths, and of future bliss or misery unutterable, then did Goodman Brown turn pale, dreading lest the roof should thunder down upon the gray blasphemer and his hearers." From that moment on, Brown judges everyone by the hypocrisy he believes that they now represent. He takes what he witnessed in the woods as the gospel truth and no one is excerpted from his hatred, especially his wife Faith. Hawthorne makes it clear that the darkness he sees in them is only a reflection of himself.

"Young Goodman Brown" is about a man with demons. Unable to face them, he projects all his own inadequacies on his neighbors. A similar theme can be found in the story of "Rappaccini's Daughter." In a garden cultivated by a scientist and professor, toxic and unnatural flowers are cultivated and grow. This is very similar to the society of Young Goodman Brown; on the surface a community of good people who no secrets that, upon further investigation, show themselves to be capable of any evil. The most dangerous of the flowers in the garden is a large poisonous flower in the very center. Equally dangerous is the daughter of the scientist, Beatrice, who is as unnatural as the other flowers in the garden. The young woman, herself, was made of the same toxins as the flower. Beatrice even declares the flower to be her family, more kindred to her than any person could be. "Give my thy breath, my sister" she says to the flower, inhaling the scent which would kill other people. This is the same attitude Goodman Brown possesses. He believed that he could go into the woods with sin and come out unstained. He would be immune to the same things that would cause anyone else to falter and be doomed. Young Goodman Brown is similar to Beatrice in this way and to the hero of the story, Giovanni Guasconti, in another. Brown was both attracted to and repulsed by the sins offered him by the man in the woods, so too Giovanni is attracted to and repulsed by Beatrice. "It was not love, although her rich beauty was a madness to him; nor horror, even while he fancied her spirit to be imbued with the same baneful essence that seemed to pervade her physical frame; but a wild offspring of both love and horror." Even though he is completely aware that the woman is a toxin to him and can do him no good, he finds himself unable to resist the temptation of the potential for sin. At story's end, Giovanni survives and Beatrice dies much like Brown at the end of his tale, at least in his own mind. Brown believed that he left the woods, assured in his righteousness and filled with the knowledge that everyone around him was evil and he alone was pure. In "Rappaccini's Daughter," Beatrice dies and pure Giovanni survives. In surviving he is forced to face the future alone without any companionship to make his righteousness at all bearable.

This trilogy of stories is thematically similar in exploring the secret side of men and the hidden sins each one has committed that are hidden beneath the facade of Christian life. In the story "The Minister's Black Veil," Hawthorne also probes the line between religion and hypocrisy. Reverend Hooper wears the titled veil as a symbol of "secret sin, and those sad mysteries which we hide from our nearest and dearest, and would fain conceal from our own consciousness, even forgetting that the Omniscient can detect them." Whereas Brown's family and friends all become enemies within his eyes, Hooper sees all men and women as equals, all sinners. The difference is that Hooper does not condemn his fellow men; rather he is encouraging one and all to admit this dual side to themselves. Instead, it is the townspeople who turn on the wearer of the veil rather than the single man against the townspeople. "In this manner Mr. Hooper spent a long life, irreproachable in outward act, yet shrouded in…[continue]

Cite This Essay:

"Hawthorne Author Nathaniel Hawthorne's Literary Works Constantly" (2011, February 01) Retrieved December 10, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/hawthorne-author-nathaniel-literary-84258

"Hawthorne Author Nathaniel Hawthorne's Literary Works Constantly" 01 February 2011. Web.10 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/hawthorne-author-nathaniel-literary-84258>

"Hawthorne Author Nathaniel Hawthorne's Literary Works Constantly", 01 February 2011, Accessed.10 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/hawthorne-author-nathaniel-literary-84258

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Nathaniel Hawthorne Was an Eighteenth Century American

    Nathaniel Hawthorne was an Eighteenth Century American author who through his works explored the subject of human sin, punishment and guilt. In fact, themes of pride, guilt, sin, punishment and evil is evident in all of his works, and the wrongs committed by his ancestors played a particular dominant force in Hawthorne's literary career, such as his most famous piece, "The Scarlet Letter" (Nathaniel Pp). Hawthorne and other writers of

  • Henry David Thoreau s Life Without

    " Furthermore, it is noteworthy that many of the views espoused by Thoreau within his works of literature were regarded with as much condescension, and perhaps outright disdain, as he seemingly regarded those pursuing the gold rush in the preceding quotation. For instance, it is known that of the 1,000 original copies that the author published of Walden, he was only able to sell approximately a third of it. To a

  • Civilization vs Wilderness Prominent Literary Theme

    Civilization and the Wilderness -- Early American Literature The collision of society against the wilderness in the early stages of the development of America was used often as a theme in early American literature. As "civilization" arrived in the New World and immediately encroached upon the natural world and the Native Americans who thrived in that New World there were stories to be told to reflect the conflicts and relationships that

  • Theatre Art

    Blood by Suzan-Lori Sparks expands on the main theme of society's unfair disregard for its people of low condition in general, for women, and for adulterers. Hester La Negrita, the protagonist, is an African-American woman who struggles to survive in poverty along with her five base-born children. The family's outcast status is portrayed as a direct inducer and accelerator of emotional suffering, poverty, lack of education, and sexual exploitation. (A)

  • Humor in Literature American Literature Is Unique

    Humor in Literature American literature is unique in that the attitudes of the works tend to reflect the spirit of the nation and of her citizens. One of the trademarks of American literature is that authors display a tone that can be very serious, but that also can be interpreted as humorous. Whereas texts from other cultures are usually more concerned with message and in presenting that message in a dry,

  • Rock and Roll Clearly Music

    He encourages people to come aboard a train being engineered in "weirdo abandon" by musicians who "dramatized a sense of what it is to be American" (1987, p. 10). Christgau, another writer who sees the correlation between this music and the greater society in which it occurred, adds: "rock criticism embraced a dream or metaphor of perpetual revolution. . . . Worthwhile bands were supposed to change people's lives,


Read Full Essay
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved