Nathaniel hawthorne

Essay by dudd88 February 2005

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Nathaniel Hawthorne


Nathaniel Hawthorne was born on July 4, 1804 in Salem, Massachusetts, the descendent

of a long line of Puritan ancestors, including John Hathorne, a presiding magistrate in the

Salem witch trials. After his father was lost at sea when he was only four, his mother

became overly protective and pushed him toward more isolated pursuits. Hawthorne's

childhood left him overly shy and bookish, and molded his life as a writer.

Hawthorne turned to writing after his graduation from Bowdoin College. His first novel,

Fanshawe, was unsuccessful and Hawthorne himself disavowed it as amateurish.

However, he wrote several successful short stories, including "My Kinsman, Major

Molyneaux," "Roger Malvin's Burial" and "Young Goodman Brown." However,

insufficient earnings as a writer forced Hawthorne to enter a career as a Boston Custom

House measurer in 1839. However, after three years Hawthorne was dismissed from his

job with the Salem Custom House.

By 1842, however, his writing amassed Hawthorne a

sufficient income for him to marry Sophia Peabody and move to The Manse in Concord,

which was at that time the center of the Transcendental movement. Hawthorne returned

to Salem in 1845, where he was appointed surveyor of the Boston Custom House by

President James Polk, but was dismissed from this post when Zachary Taylor became

president. Hawthorne then devoted himself to his most famous novel, The Scarlet Letter.

He zealously worked on the novel with a determination he had not known before. His

intense suffering infused the novel with imaginative energy, leading him to describe it as

the "hell-fired story." On February 3, 1850, Hawthorne read the final pages to his wife.

He wrote, "It broke her heart and sent her to bed with a grievous headache, which I look

upon as a triumphant success."

The Scarlet Letter was an immediate...