An Analysis on three works by Nathaniel HawthorneNathaniel Hawthorne born from a family cursed by an accused witch generations before, carried with him a dark romantic side. He wrote eerie, haunting works, emphasizing sin, guilt, evil, and terror on the human psyche. A mysterious, distant man he lived, and wrote many of his works during the Romanticism period. His style of writing, diction, and themes are very prevalent among other works in our history.
Hawthorne's writings share many characteristics which helps you to indentify him as the author.
"Had a man seen old Roger Chillingworth, at that moment of his ecstasy, he would have had no need to ask how Satan comports himself when a precious human soul is lost to heaven, and won into his kingdom."ÃÂ This passage is from the book, The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850. This book is perfect example of Hawthorne's style in writing, and themes.
The story is one of desire, sin, guilt, and death. The setting of this story is in Salem, Massachusetts during the 1600's in a deeply religious Puritan town, Boston. A woman gave a token of her love to the one she truly loved, and was treated as a criminal, a disease almost, when it was discovered that she was pregnant, and unmarried, with the father of the sin unknown. Instead of a woman struck blindside by love, she was looked upon as whorish outcast. The symbol of the sin was the elaborate, adamant, scarlet letter branded on the guilty party's breast. The living symbol of the letter is a fiery, sprite- like child named Pearl born from that woman. The letter had a profound effect on the witnesses to it's boldness. At first it was a symbol that made people stare with scorn, and then it turns into a sign of repentance, and compassion. The letter is alive as soon as it is sealed on Hester's breast. It is made of sin, and fire burning into her chest. It has a humanistic quality of being beautiful but wicked.
Human nature is explored in this book. A bold, unbreakable character proves the strength of the soul. A physician's depravity towards a man of whom he was jealous, was a driving conflict in the story. The guilt felt by the Reverend Mr. Dimmesdale was a main idea that interested Hawthorne. At the end of the book, the sin of Mr. Dimmesdale was revealed, but not in a direct way. The stress, and guilt on Mr. Dimmesdale leads to his death after admitting his sin. The passion between a woman and her lover was not shown until they met alone after seven years of lamenting in their sin. The story does not have a good, happy ending, but ends as a sad tale, with a touch of fate. Hawthorne used a poetic yet dark way of writing this tale. His diction is formal and educated. This story is a romantic yet dark tale, that appeals to the senses of most that read it.
"There is an hour to come, he said, when all of us shall cast aside our veils. Take it not amiss, beloved friend, if I wear this piece of crepe till then"ÃÂ- The Reverend Mr.
Hooper (Hawthorne, 23).
The basis of the story The Minister's Black Veil , is very similar to that of the The Scarlet Letter. It is about human sin, which is our nature dating back to the Bible, and then the guilt of the committed sins. The setting of this story is also in a strict Puritan town somewhere in New England during the 1600's. This story includes a clergyman and his sins, also like one of the themes in The Scarlet Letter. The role of the church and the sins that can occur to anyone may they be blessed or not was explored by Hawthorne.
There was a strong, almost super human character who was holding a secret throughout the whole story. Like the scarlet letter, the black crepe veil scared those who encountered it. By the end of the story it is looked on as a symbol of experience, and help to those who need guidance. The black crepe is mysterious, never revealing what was underneath.
It was the dividing line which sectioned the minister off from the rest of the tainted world. It was a change that no one expected, and yet worried all. If a minister is not worthy of forgiveness then how are the common men? The veil made the people realize that it's victim was just like a common man. Sin touches everyone, no one is safe from it, and it seers into the souls of those that fall victim to it. A man of the church does not supposedly sin, so when it does happen it throws the town into a state of confusion, not knowing how to receive his sin. The refusal to cast the veil aside frightened his congregation, because of it's severity and the secrets that it stands for. Whatever the sin was, and if there ever was really one, we will never know. Yet the reader often finds herself understanding the veil in a profound way. Hawthorne brings out the fact that we all have sins that only we know of and there shall be a day when we all will cast off our black veils which hide our true faces away. But in some cases as is pointed out by Hawthorne, the sins we cover will never be shown, and we will die with them in our breast.
"Old and young, we dream of graves and monuments"ÃÂ-The Stranger "All had left separate tokens, by which those who had known the family were made to shed a tear for each. Who has not heard their name? The story has been told far and wide, and will forever be a legend of these mountains. Poets have sung their fate,"ÃÂ "Woe for the high-soled youth, with his dream of Earthly Immortality! His name and person utterly unknown; his history, his way of life, his plans, a mystery never to be solved, his death and his existence equally a doubt! Whose was the agony of that death moment?"ÃÂ These passages are taken from the bizarre, psychological tale, The Ambitious Guest. Elements that are included in this tale are also related to human nature. The desire to be famous, to be known with a some dignity is a normal wish felt by many. Reflecting on your life, thinking that it may have been worthless, has also crossed many peoples minds at some point in their lives. The desire to make an impact on an area is what caused the tragedy that fell upon a simple family one night when a stranger walked through their door. The family lived in a dangerous spot next to a mountain. They knew this but a feeling was felt by the family that if they respected the great mountain, it in turn would do them no harm. Perhaps they felt that the love generated from their family was enough power to protect them from the stones and boulders that fell down the mountain time to time. Their love kept the great winds from entering their cozy home.
On a certain evening a man came to house with them for the night. Seeing the happy family the man felt at home and brought up his views on how he wants a monument put up for him. Though he has not done anything of exceptional merit, he feels that he can not be buried until he has. The family ponders on the idea if they are known and if they will be remembered when they perish. The different views on the subject by the eldest daughter, the grandmother, and the father offer insights into what they feel they have done, or do deserve. The daughter of the man and woman has perhaps a foreshadowing of something to come, as she sits thinking, afraid to give up her thoughts to the rest.
The rumbling of the mountain prevails over the conversation and with that the family flees to their safety spot in their yard. There the mountain rushes upon them, thus swallowing the family and the stranger. The family is not found and remembered. Few tears are shed for them. They had a greater impact with their simple lives on people.
More than the stranger had. The stranger died exactly that, a stranger. His name was never even introduced to the family that he died with. He had died and been buried by the rubble, even though he had not made his mark on the world. This strange tale of fate is an example of romanticism. It includes isolation of the family and of the stranger. There is a certain terror involved, and unsettling feeling given off by this story. But alas the stranger did go out in a tremendous fashion just as he wanted to. He was destroyed by nature.
The question remains that if the family had stayed in the home, would they still be alive? Or was it fate that had already mapped out what was going to happen. If they were in the home would the mountain come straight through the house instead of dividing around it? The strangeness of this tale gives the reader a view into Hawthorn's dark side. Innocent characters that are trying to be good people, and selfish, evil intentions are a theme in this story.
Hawthorne as a dark romantic, writes to stimulate thinking, and questioning. The abnormal plays a part in developing such ideas. Each of these stories are craftily written with full intention of diving into human nature and it's sinful ways. Hawthorne is known as a genius for the power that he provides in his stories, and the pure harsh concepts that he wrote about in such a way that one might wonder what their own personal fate is.
The similarities between these elegiac stories are great evidence that the writer obviously wrote all three. The idea of peoples desires, end up corrupting them in the end.
In all three stories demise was an ending to the depression of all the main characters. It seemed that, that was the only way to end the stories. If these characters stayed alive, these tales would be very different, with not such a harsh, but completed ending. Some of the works were ecclesiastic, which adds to the guilt brought on by the sin, to the stories.
In each story there is an irony whether it is obvious or not, that keeps the readers attention. In The Scarlet Letter the fact that the father of Pearl was a minister, is ironic.
When Roger Chillingworth arrives at the public demonstration starring Hester, there is a twist of irony in it. In The Minister's Black Veil the irony besides the fact that a clergyman had committed a sin that condemned him to wear the black crepe, was when he was dying he would not let the veil be lifted from his face. In the last story, The Ambitious Guest the irony is how the "perfect"ÃÂ world was destroyed. Another irony is when the rubble split around the home and did not demolish it. The family thought that they would be safe, but if they had stayed in their cozy home they might have stayed alive.
Hawthorne as conservative as he was, wrote with a decorous aire, and his diction was constant in each of the three stories. The sentence structure and arrangement of sentences gave him a very distinct style. He picked conservative places during conservative time frames in our country.
His dark views remind us that sin has been around for almost the whole existence of our earth. Everyone has given into it at one time or another. He also implies that sin will be around for as long as this earth supports human life. Even today his works are being read and enjoyed. Today he is looked upon as one of the greatest romantics in American history. Those who have examined his works can usually agree with this statement.